Construction management software continues to evolve, creating cost savings and efficiency
Carol Brzozowski - Nov. 15, 2021
Greg Norris, B2W Software spokesman, acknowledges that it can be challenging for some people to move from paper and spreadsheets to digital for managing job sites.
B2W Software’s heavy highway and civil construction software is focused on improved operational workflows through five applications: scheduling, dispatching, field tracking, equipment maintenance and electronic forms and reporting.
The applications are presented in a cohesive platform.
The construction industry is ramping up in terms of software deployment, so having a cohesive platform such as offered by B2W Software addresses the challenge of interoperability – getting different software platforms to ‘talk’ to each other, Norris points out.
B2W Schedule is the company’s newest product, replacing a previous product. It serves as an online scheduling and dispatching tool to replace whiteboards and spreadsheets that contractors typically use to schedule and dispatch their crews, employees, equipment and materials, notes Norris.
It replaces the "old-school" way of making a phone call or sending someone an email or text and is simultaneously visible in real-time to employees in the field, the shop and the office, he adds.
“There’s tremendous benefit in terms of resource optimization and resource efficiency in getting the right resources to the right place at the right time and knowing where your resources are going to be,” says Norris.
In using construction software from the start of a job to its completion, B2W end users start with the estimating product, which helps to enable them to cast a wide net to win more profitable bids, notes Norris.
The software includes pre-populated cost structures for accuracy and speed in bidding, enabling contractors to build bids more quickly, he adds.
The field tracking and scheduling applications are designed to help contractors’ staff and build the job in the field, helping to generate more workflow efficiencies.
“If you’re a foreman and you’re in the field and have a piece of equipment that needs to be repaired, you can make an immediate repair request in the field tracking software that becomes visible in the maintenance software,” says Norris.
“The maintenance manager can decide to send someone to fix it or bring it into the shop through real-time communication. Someone in the scheduling department can assign another piece of equipment while it's being repaired.”
Data further proves its usefulness by generating reports to make data-driven decisions, Norris adds.
For example, a contractor can see a machine’s repair history and use data to predict when the machine may go down. A history of safety incidents can be used to get predictive and preventative with safety.
The software goes a long way in improving communication among employees in the office and the field in creating real-time workflow efficiencies, which helps avoid errors or miscommunication, Norris points out.
The field-tracking software in particular enables supervisors and their crews to track the project status in contrast to where the estimate indicates the project should be.
That includes tracking performance, hours, materials and equipment utilization, with the data serving as a motivational factor, says Norris, adding there are no surprises in terms of being over or under budget and project hours.
The software also provides an opportunity to switch to a more proactive approach to equipment maintenance, Norris says.
“It’s less expensive to maintain a piece of equipment than to fix it when it breaks in most cases,” he adds. “Then there’s the added cost of job disruption and the cost of having to replace that with another piece of equipment or with rental fees.”
Payroll also benefits through a streamlined tracking of hours that is communicated directly to the accounting system, eliminating redundancies, Norris says.
Norris acknowledges the importance of ease of use for construction software, given that some companies are reticent to go digital.
“These systems aren’t being sold to IT professionals,” he points out. “They don't want their primary focus to be how to make the software work. We’ve focused on making it extremely intuitive and easy to use.
“That’s not just the interface, but the construction logic. We try to make the software work along with the same logic of doing things manually or with a spreadsheet would work and make it fit construction.”
B2W Software provides help to contractors in implementing the software, setting up the servers, cloud deployment, building databases as well as in-person training and online training, followed by support.
Norris says security protocols can be set up in the servers, with administrators determining who can have access to what data, including protecting proprietary information both internally and externally.
Using construction management software yields cost savings that are derived with accurate bids and maintenance cost savings, notes Norris.
“End users routinely tell us when they switch from spreadsheets to estimating software, they can do two to three times more estimates in addition to being more accurate or more confident,” Norris says. “They are getting two or three times what they were turning out when they had to rely on paper or Excel spreadsheets.”