By Nathan | Posted on
2018 was a banner year for construction, in fact it's grown by 6 percent since 2017. Of the overall construction market transportation is up 13%, public safety and conservation/development are both up 10%.
As the economy continues to improve we've seen steady growth in both commercial and residential construction projects, with even more projected in 2019.
For construction firms and subcontractors to claim their piece of that industry, and to make sure that they are growing along with the industry instead of being left behind, we've compiled a list of the best construction management apps for 2019, tools that are just as important as the welders and hammers crews use on site.
This list contains the construction project management software that saw the biggest positive changes in 2018 and are poised to become must-haves for any growing construction business in 2019. While they are certainly useful on their own, you'll find that the biggest and best benefits come when you stack them together.
For general and subcontractors the work really begins before you dig your first hole on site: it starts with an estimate. The problem is that estimating can be an enormous drain on your time and resources, and frankly it's not what most people got into this business to do in the first place, which make the time spent on it even more frustrating.
And whenever this is a frustrating task, especially one that has to do with coordinating a lot of different factors, that's precisely the place where you want technology to come in and take some of the heavy lifting off of your shoulders.
To help out with estimating we took a closer look at Clear Estimates and liked what we saw. Specifically, here's what they were doing in 2018 to set themselves up as the go-to estimating solution for 2019.
- A constantly updated database of costs specific to your area so you know you're being competitive: no more relying on national averages that actually have very little to do with your unique business.
- Create customizable, branded estimates in a fraction of the time as your old process, and even incorporate change orders so you're not losing out due to the unexpected.
Experts on Estimates.
Really, one of the main things we love about Clear Estimates and why we put them on a list of construction apps to try in 2019 was the fact that they are a point solution. Essentially that means they are experts in estimating because that's what they were designed to do.
Other software that tries to tack estimating on to an already bursting feature list will likely mess up one of them, and messing up your estimate isn't something that you want to trifle with. An off-target estimate can lead to nasty disputes down the road and plenty of burned bridges, so this is definitely something you want the experts handling.
After the estimates are in and the bid is won comes the drawing, and it's usually where a lot of confusion enters the picture. Version control, markups, and usability are all big issues when it comes to dealing with drawings. Luckily, we've already mentioned how Bluebeam Revu is the best construction project management software when it comes to drawings, markups, punch lists, and QA/QC workflows.
Take a closer look at Bluebeam Revu and you'll discover an app for construction management that has experienced major redesign work, all in an effort to make the experience more seamless and easy for workers in the field.
This sort of field-focused approach is what we've come to expect from Bluebeam, and their 2018 updates prove it. Just look at what they've done with their interface:
- The new design gives drawings more real estate.
- New dashboard interface keeps drawings from all your projects in one place so you can switch between them easier.
A Construction Management App for Drawings
The Bluebeam Studio functionality alone, which allows users to collaborate on drawings across devices and keep all of their changes synced, is worth its weight in gold to the modern construction team. It's that kind of functionality that we love in a construction app, and when it comes to the best construction apps of 2019 you'll notice that a lot of this list is focused on solutions that make the process of construction go more smoothly. Ultimately that's where technology can have the biggest impact. True, a new impact driver could make the work go a little faster, but unless you've got the funds to invest in brand new automated equipment then the changes to practical construction technology in 2019 aren't going to mean that much to you.
However, the field of construction management has exploded in the past few years, and fierce competition within the space means that there are plenty of apps and solutions for you to try, each one valuable in their own way. And the best part is that they come at a fraction of the cost as new construction equipment and, if you use them right, they can save you more time than that driver. That's why we recommend starting with Bluebeam: if you're looking for a better way to manage your drawings in 2019 and save a ton of time and headache doing it, look no further.
Once you've got your drawings in an app that synchronizes comments and punch lists, you're going to want to take some photos of the site as it's progressing. Of all the construction photography apps out there Structionsite is definitely the most innovative. Their x-ray vision mode gives you a history of the site by layering historical photos on top of each other, letting you see through walls into what went into them first while their unique way of linking back to the drawings helped keep the field and the office on the same page.
If you haven't been keeping up with them then you missed out on some pretty impressive updates in 2018 that sealed them as the construction photo app of choice.
- Stronger integration with Procore for RFI's and observations. Just go into a Structionsite photo and make RFI's in Procore right from the photo.
- GPS fencing means that photos of the site get automatically uploaded based on GPS and compass orientation, it even works across multiple devices and puts them into a single project.
One of the Best Apps for Builders
All of this means that with Structionsite and Bluebeam together you will not only have everyone on the same set of drawings with notes synchronized but you will be able to compare those drawings to photos taken on site and use their virtual walkthrough tool to manage activities even when you're not there.
And that's the real value of these two apps working in conjunction: offsite construction management is becoming more and more popular, and not necessarily for the reasons you think. We've spoken with plenty of general superintendents who sometimes work with teams around the country. In such a situation there's no way for one person to get around and check all the sites personally.
Just take the case of David Ingram from Maurice Agrillo. He implemented a construction management software solution to help him communicate with his partner in a different state. He says "I don't have to give him an update during the day or at the end of the week because he's on the daily report automatic mailing list. Sometimes when we're working across the country he'll see a photo in Raken from the site that day and call to ask about what he's seeing. Raken has streamlined our communication because he sees what I see every day."
Hopefully, you're starting to see how these construction management tools, working together in a stack, meaning you can do more than you could before. But there's still more.
Coordinating drawings, markups, RFIs, punch lists, and walkthroughs in apps is a great idea because it will save your firm time and money over a pencil and paper process. But arguably the thing that will save your firm the most, both in terms of time and the resources that go with it, is a faster way to get those high-frequency field workflows out of the way, and that means daily reports and time cards.
The most notorious time-waster on a jobsite has to be filling out daily reports or figuring out subcontractor time cards. It might not be the thing that takes the most time on a jobsite (other tasks, where you're actually building something, take that) but unlike the other tasks you do on-site, filling out reports in the trailer at the end of the day feels like time that's wasted: it's demoralizing and frustrating.
Remember David Ingram, Superintendent with Maurice Agrillo General Contractors in San Francisco? He says "I'd get home and be writing stuff out, minimum an hour, usually two, sometimes three." Those hours could have been spent doing anything else, and with Raken's construction field management app he turned those hours into minutes.
Raken's 2018 was filled with updates to daily reporting and time cards, making our field-focused construction management software easier and faster than it's ever been. Here are some of the highlights:
- Add payroll notes with attachments (like a photo or email of a receipt) to your time cards, eliminating the need for the office to call up and ask for clarification.
- With one click a payroll admin can send a text message notification to every worker on Raken reminding them to sign off on their time cards. No more chasing people down getting paper time cards.
- New integrations with OneDrive, Egnyte, and Autodesk BIM 360.
A Construction Manager App for the Field
Where Raken really distinguishes itself as a solution is a field-first approach. The entire experience was designed so that the guys in the field would not only be able to use but would actually enjoy it. That's where the real value of Raken comes through: it's a pick-up-and-go construction field management app, and that means it requires little to no training before your guys are expert at it. The minimal amount of training required, coupled with the fact that it was designed so that the workers in the field would actually enjoy being on it, means not only massive time savings for your entire crew but an added benefit that can't be measured but nevertheless affects everything about your business: morale.
DJ Mason of Tri-State general contractors has said that when he gave a technologically-challenged superintendent Raken that "within 5 minutes he was excited about his day again. He felt like this was a tool that would make him look more professional, increase his ability to communicate well, and not take as much time for him to do that. He was rejuvenated about his day, and that was pretty cool to see."
So with Raken not only did the daily report compliance for that site turned around practically overnight, but the superintendents and foremen working with the app were happier as well. And when you start getting superintendents excited about their dailies and give them a construction management app to do them faster then you'll be getting accurate, thorough updates from the field, information that's invaluable for everything else on the list. DJ Mason isn't the only one raving about how much time he saves with Raken. Many other construction professionals have given their testimony for how Raken works wonders for them as well.
We put this on the bottom because the last piece of your 2019 construction project management apps is the thing that ties the previous pieces together: an online file storing service that everyone on your team can access and collaborate on.
Why is a file storing service necessary? Because it keeps the big picture in mind, allows for easy organization of your documents, and most importantly it protects you from future litigation. Litigation that comes at construction companies more and more frequently, and while 2018 was a great year for the construction industry it was also a great year for the construction lawyers- more cases were filed and more damages were paid in 2018 than in 2017, and that number is expected to rise. An online file storage system that keeps all of your dailies, drawings, and photos in one single source of truth is a must-have, especially going into the future.
For your construction documents we recommend checking out Egnyte- they are secure, dependable, and what's more they integrate with a large number of construction apps, including Raken. Here's the rundown of how they have set themselves up for 2019:
- Access required project documents from any device, anywhere. You don't even need an internet connection.
- Integrate with on-site servers, do it all on the cloud, or a mix of both: you can store your documents where and how you want them, but no matter what you'll be compliant.
Storage for Construction Project Management
Dominic Silvia, the head of IT at Level 10 Construction in California, writes "Integrating Raken and Egnyte so that our daily reports were automatically synced to an Egnyte Connect project folder was a no-brainer." There's one particularly useful word in Silvia's description that earns Egnyte a place on our best construction apps of 2019 list: automatic.
The second that you automate something you free up minutes in your day and stress off your mind. Daily reports and time cards are necessary, important, and extremely valuable to a company but many superintendents, once they fill them out, ship them off to the office and never think about them again. The office, for their part, only looks at daily reports for major updates and if everything seems okay then they file it away in some dusty cabinet and forget about it.
The problem with that is that these reports are still forgotten when, five or so years down the road, a lawsuit comes up claiming that work either wasn't done on a site or wasn't done right. Suddenly those old dusty reports have become extremely valuable as cold hard cash is on the line for the company. And that's usually the moment when they can't be found, or if they are found they are incomplete or inaccurate, lacking pictures or weather details that could make or break the case.
So that's why we recommend Egnyte so much: a simple, searchable file structure means that everything is backed up and easy to find so it'll be ready when you need it. And the fact that it's automatic means that you can't miss storing your dailies and time cards from that day. Pair that with Raken's ability to send notifications when dailies are missed to increase compliance and you've got a proven way to up your site documentation game in 2019.
Summing it up: Best Construction Management Apps 2019
Let's face it: any app on this list would help your company be better in 2019 than it was in 2018. But if you want to give your construction business the best possible chance of success in the coming year build out your 2019 construction apps with these starters and grow from there.
There are so many more apps and solutions to explore: equipment trackers with geo-fencing, drones that give you a bird's eye view of site progress and many more. But when it comes to the best construction management apps of 2019 these three make the list because they are the best in class at what they do: drawings, reports, and storage. Get those three aspects of your construction field management more efficient and we guarantee that your 2019 will be less stressful and more profitable.