Managing the moving pieces of a construction project is no easy task. To effectively manage a construction project, general contractors must monitor costs, keep teams on schedule, and maintain safety processes for the project. Fortunately, software has been created that simplifies all of these processes, and helps project managers handle the changing and complex flow of their construction projects.
This guide will cover the software products that contractors, project managers, and owners can use to effectively manage schedules, share plan changes, and update daily logs for their construction projects.
If you know enough about construction project management software to make a purchase decision, here’s our list of recommendations:
Best Construction Project Management Software (Summed Up)
- Procore (Best Overall)
- Buildertrend (Best for Remodelers)
- Autodesk BIM 360 (Best for Large Projects and Teams)
- Plangrid (Runner-Up)
- Autodesk Constructware (Runner-Up)
Understanding Construction Project Management
The purpose of construction project management software is to streamline the project management process and to make general contractors and their teams more effective and efficient through the course of a construction project. To understand how this technology does that, let’s first learn more about construction project management and what it entails.
What Is Construction Project Management?
Here are some of the main responsibilities involved in construction project management:
- Creating and managing the project schedule.
- Contracting out or internally directing the design process.
- Negotiate the scope of work and costs with consultants and contractors who will work on the project.
- Create contractor agreements defining scope of work, costs, and schedule.
- Manage consultant invoices.
- Monitor the project budget, and securing additional funding from the owner or sponsors when necessary.
- Work with government departments, like the Department of Transportation to get permits and meet project deadlines.
- Facilitate meetings to discuss project progress.
So in a construction project, who is responsible for managing the project? This depends on many factors, including the simplicity, size, and budget of the project. In most instances, the project manager is a general contractor hired by the owner. The general contractor is also usually a company with several people or teams working on different aspects of the project. For smaller projects, the project manager could be an individual. And in some cases, the owner manages their own construction project. These businesses are commonly called owner-developers.
Construction Project Management vs Construction Management
Project management, and therefore the project manager, is usually focused on the operational logistics of the project discussed above – managing invoices, creating a schedule, and facilitating meetings between different parties involved in the project. On the other hand, the construction manager is on the front-lines of construction and usually has a more intricate understanding of the construction process. Construction manager responsibilities usually include hiring subcontractors, ordering materials, and leasing equipment.
So construction managers are much more in the weeds of the project and usually have more specific knowledge of construction than the project manager, who has a more administrative role in the project.
The construction managers and the project managers are usually different individuals or teams, depending on project size and how the owner chooses to have it managed.
Understanding Construction Project Management Software
This section will cover the basics of construction project management software — what it is, the key features, and the costs.
What Is Construction Project Management Software?
It is often the primary collaboration tool for individuals and teams working on construction projects to share information and collaborate on project documents once the project has broken ground. Teams use this technology to track the progress and costs of one or more projects.
Typically, construction project management tools are separate from the technology used to design and engineer project plans. However, these tools frequently integrate with each other or use compatible file types.
Construction Project Management Features
There is no official template for the features that a construction project management software will offer. Most project management software developers even have their own workflows and terminology for their features. But in general, companies who identify as construction project management software are solving the same problems and offering most of the same core functionality.
Here, we’ll cover the key features that most construction project management software will include.
1. Document Storage and Management
Over the course of a construction project, many documents are shared and managed internally or sent between contractor and the owner, their subcontractors, suppliers, or other involved party. Managing the flow of these documents and files can become exponentially more challenging as projects grow in size. Luckily, many project management tools take care of this for their users with storage and collaboration capabilities for project plans, subcontractor contracts, and receipts.
A submittal is information about materials, equipment, etc. that a contractor submits to the architect or designer prior to fabricating or ordering, in order to ensure that the materials are appropriate for the project. Many of the best products provide a platform for sending and receiving submittals.
RFI stands for Request for Information, which is simply a message to one party involved in the project requesting additional information. Most often, this is a question for the designer, engineer, or architect clarifying details about the project plans. Many project management tools offer a platform for this.
4. Change Orders
A change order is sent when one party in the project needs to make a change to the existing project plans. The change orders are submit for any change to the plans, small or large. For example, both a change to the doorknobs on a small subset of doors or an additional 2 floors to an apartment building
5. Instant and Remote Syncing
Every cloud-based product will be accessible from most devices remotely, as long as the user has an internet connection. That is the beauty of the cloud and online software. In addition, information that they update remotely will be instantly available for all users immediately, because all users access the same data.
6. Daily Log
Some software will include a daily log to track project progress and keep owners and contractors informed of what is happening on the project. This can also be useful to reference back to later if mistakes are made or if questions come up.
7. Plan Markup
Often, if changes need to be made, it is common to markup the original plans with notes, rather than redrafting. Some construction project management software will include the ability to digitally markup plans so notes and changes can be shared with the team instantly and digitally, and no reprints need to be sent to team members.
8. Punch Lists
Sometimes after construction has concluded, there are several items that the contractor must still address in order to meet the contract specifications. Often, this is work that was completed incorrectly or forgotten. When this happens, the owner or another party will create a punch list, to specifically itemize each thing that must be addressed before the project is complete by the contract’s terms.
Many software platforms will provide summary and analysis reports to their users about their projects, either individually or in aggregate. These reports usually vary between software, but typically summarize things like project progress and budget / spending information.
If any features, reports, or aggregate information is important for your business, get a product demo before buying and verify the tool offers it. It’s very common for the sales team to get their wires crossed when buyers are asking detailed questions about product features.
Construction Project Management Software Cost
Construction project management software is actually some of the least transparently priced software used in the construction industry. Several products designed for small businesses and solo contractors have very straight forward pricing models, but the pricing for enterprise-level construction project management software is much higher and more complex.
That said, many of these products are priced similarly. Usually, products that don’t have a flat monthly or annual rate for a license charge by the amount of business done within the software. The exact methodology for measuring business volume is not always the same, but the goal is to price the software as a percentage of business done within the platform. This is meant to keep the software affordable relative to the size of the project.
Since the pricing can be so custom and unique for a given product, we recommend testing out and getting quotes from a number of providers when cost is a major factor in the decision. Unfortunately, there’s no table to summarize this universally, but most software companies will readily give you a quote if you share some key information about your business with them.
Finding The Best Construction Project Management Software
Buyers in the market for a construction project management tool should consider several factors when weighing their options. This section will outline the most important things to consider.
Business Size & Type
Some products are designed for large businesses while others target small businesses and solo practices. Make sure you’re looking at products that are designed for your size of business before you dive in too deep. Also, if you have specific project management needs as a subcontractor or developer, you may search for products that have developed specific workflows for your field. The pricing models for “large enterprise” software is typically not favorable for smaller companies.
Many construction project management solutions will offer very similar functionality, allowing users to manage schedules, communicate changes and request information from the project team, and monitor budgets. However, they are not all built identically and many offer unique features that competitors don’t. Take a hard look at the features that these companies offer. Firms who work on specific types of projects or within specific industries can often find products that offer specific workflows for their use case.
Once the software is implemented, users will rarely need to contact the software provider. However, there are several times when it is necessary — during setup / implementation, during product training, and for troubleshooting and customer service. Even though this won’t be very often, customer service should be a top consideration when comparing companies. Websites like the Better Business Bureau and Construction Coverage will give buyers information about each company’s reputation and the strength of their customer service.
Product Usability & Experience
Almost all construction project management software developers will give prospective buyers the opportunity to test the software with a free trial or guided product demo with a company representative. Take advantage of these opportunities because they will allow you to experience the product’s interface and ensure that its workflow fits the needs and processes of your business.
Software Deployment & Accessibility
Construction project management tools will be either cloud-based or locally-installed. Typically, this will also impact the on-the-go accessibility of the software. Online tools can usually be accessed from any device with an internet connection, making them the preferred option for users who need remote access. Online tools are also ideal for companies with highly collaborative processes because data is immediately updated and shared any time a user makes an edit.
Because most construction project management systems are not priced using flat monthly, or annual, pricing schemes, it is often difficult to get an exact estimate of product costs without the help of a company representative. Regardless, it’s worth doing the due diligence with each company you are considering to determine if their pricing model fits your business. In rare circumstances, the pricing method of a product can be very unfavorable for a businesses workflow, causing the price to exceed the value of the software. But usually these products are priced as a percentage of the business run through the platform.
Expert & Customer Reviews
Until you become a user of the software, product reviews, like the ones below, can be the best insight into a piece of software and the company who makes it. Read what others have to say about these products before making a decision, starting with the detailed reviews below.
Best Construction Project Management Software
All products in this section meet a high set of standards, ranking near the top of all construction project management software on all of the metrics we discussed above.
Procore (Best Overall Construction Project Management Software)
Procore is one of the most popular and complete construction project management software on the market. Their customer reputation is practically spotless, with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and positive reviews across the web. Along with project management, Procore offers field service, quality and safety management, and financial management software as well.
Procore is intended primarily for general contractors, but is also a great fit for construction managers, subcontractors, and owners. The product is totally customizable at purchase, so users can choose the tools they need, making it a good fit for any size user or business. However, it is probably best suited for businesses doing about $5 million or more in annual business.
Procore’s platform is offered as an online (cloud-based) app for desktop computers. They also offer mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Windows devices. This makes them convenient and easy to use when on the go, and ideal for users who need collaboration capabilities. Their online platform and mobile apps are among the cleanest and most modern user interfaces of any project management tool – in part because of their young team of software developers and product managers
Procore offers much more than a slick interface, with one of the most complete feature offerings of any tool we’ve reviewed. Procore’s suite of tools offers features that span a variety of needs from bidding to closeout. Their project management tool includes features to address user needs in bidding, daily logs, drawings, emails, meetings, project photos, punch lists, RFIs, scheduling, project specifications, submittals, timecards, and transmittals.
For the features that Procore doesn’t include, they offer a number of product integrations, for Sage 300 CRE, Sage 100 Contractor Connector, Docusign, Microsoft Project, Primavera P6, Vista, Spectrum, Quickbooks, Buildingconnected, Isqft, and ProEst (for estimating).
Procore’s pricing cannot be simplified to a one-size-fits-all model. The cost of the software is a function of the types of projects and volume of business that is run through the platform. And while pricing isn’t clear until you dig in to specifics with their sales team, the majority of users find significant value in Procore’s platform. Over half of superintendents, project engineers, and project managers said that they save over 5 hours a week thanks to Procore. Furthermore, over 76% of users said that they were able to reduce the duration of a 6 month project by over 3 days. Especially for large projects, that time savings can significantly improve the bottom line of a project, and the software more than pays for itself.
The last thing we’ll mention about Procore is their outstanding service. With a subscription to their product, they include product training and ongoing support with an outstanding staff of representatives. Product reviews show high satisfaction with Procore’s customer service.
Because of Procore’s extensive feature set, convenient integrations, and great reputation, they are our top recommendation and we rate them Best Overall Construction Project Management Software.
Buildertrend (Best for Remodelers)
Buildertrend is a fairly new business, founded only in 2007. However, it’s already become one of the most widely used construction project management tools. The company offers stellar customer service and scores an A+ with the Better Business Bureau.
Buildertrend is designed for construction projects for home building, remodeling, and specialty contracting, but can even be used for commercial projects. As a project management tool, it’s best used if everyone involved in the project buys in and uses the product to track progress and updates.
Buildertrend’s platform provides more than just construction project management – it also includes features that span the pre-sale process, financial management, and customer relationship management. This review speaks only to their project management capabilities, but buyers are getting many more than a project management solution. To learn more, read our full review of Buildertrend’s estimating solution.
Buildertrend’s cloud-based platform can be accessed via any device with a web browser and also through their iOS or Android apps. The same easy to navigate and clean interface is used on each of their platforms. Since the platform is online and app-based, the developers at Buildertrend are consistently releasing updates, which all users receive instantly.
Buildertrend has a powerful suite of features addressing project management and much more. Their project management tools include daily logs to keep project teams up to date, to-do’s for creating and tracking action items, scheduling to keep the team informed and on schedule, in-platform messaging, and a ton of other features to help teams collaborate and efficiently meet project deadlines. Other features include document and photos storage and sharing, warranties / punchlists, and plan markup.
Plan Markup with Buildertrend for Project Management
Buildertrend’s product covers a lot of needs, but they also offer a large suite of integrations for users who work in other technologies. Some of the popular software that Buildertrend connects with include:
- ProEst and Clear Estimates for estimating
- Stack, eTakeoff, PrebuiltML, and PlanSwift for takeoff
- Quickbooks and Xero for accounting
- Several file-sharing and design tools.
Buildertrend’s entire suite of features comes with a license which has a base cost of $99 per month. Buildertrend charges either monthly or annually and has additional costs based on the number and type of projects worked within the software. The cost of the product scales proportionally with the amount of business being done with it.
Buildertrend includes a 30-day money-back guarantee with a purchase of their license, meaning that there is no commitment if the software doesn’t work for your business. And buyers can optionally pay annually, but the license is month-to-month, so users can cancel their subscription any time.
Buildertrend is an awesome product and a contender for best overall. They designed their product with remodelers, builders, and specialty contractors in mind. We rated them Best Construction Project Management Software for Remodelers.
Autodesk BIM 360 (Best for Large Projects and Teams)
Autodesk is a large, public company (NASDAQ:ADSK) that does billions in annual revenue. They are extremely popular and the company makes a broad range of tools to help engineers, architects, designers, contractactors, and other construction professionals. Their construction project management software is one of the most popular tools available.
Autodesk has a perfect A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, which demonstrates their willingness and ability to address the needs of their customers. Their numerous products are among the most widely used in each sub-field of construction and their customer reputation is strong.
BIM 360 is a cloud-based “construction management” tool designed to help construction pros manage the entire project lifecycle within a single platform. It is a great fit intended to suit the needs of designers, project managers, superintendents, and owners.
BIM 360 can be accessed on any device with a web browser, but Autodesk also offers app-based versions of the software for Windows and iOS. The variety of access options and the cloud-based storage make BIM 360 ideal for collaboration on plans and sharing information quickly.
BIM 360 is extremely powerful with a large number of features. Because not all features are necessary for every user, BIM 360 is split into a number of modules, which are priced and sold separately, but all operate together on the same platform. Users can select and pay only for the solutions they need. The primary modules of BIM 360 are:
- BIM Coordination – created to ease the identification and resolution of problems between different disciplines engaged in the project.
- Change Visualization – used to help visualize changes between different versions of project plans.
- Controlled Work-Sharing – a security feature that makes sure files are shared with only the right people / organizations, and only when they need them.
- Deliverable Coordination – created to improve the scheduling of milestones and effectively track and manage project progress.
- Design Review – allows users to share plans, submit comments, suggest edits, and leave markups and view changes in real time, to more effectively collaborate on plans during the design phase.
- Issue Management – this feature is used to identify, track, and resolve issues from start to finish.
- Quality Management – a tool created to standardize the quality measurement and management workflows and easily assign and resolve issues.
- RFIs and Submittals – this module is used for the creation, management, distribution, and approval of submittals packages.
- Safety – used to distribute safety checklist and share site observations with all individuals who visit the site to prevent accidents.
These modules can be pieced together to make a custom solution, or they can be purchased in one of BIM 360’s bundled products. BIM 360’s different products are BIM 360 Docs, BIM 360 Build, BIM 360 Design, BIM 360 Glue, BIM 360 Layout, BIM 360 Ops, or BIM 360 Plan – each of which are tailored to specific users and purposes.
BIM 360 offers a number of different integration options. First of all, they offer an open API, which allows to developers to create their own integrations. Furthermore, they also offer an integration marketplace where developers can share their integrations and download integrations created by other developers. Some of their popular, existing integrations include Bluebeam Revu, CMiC, eSUB, RedTeam, SmartBid, Stack, and over 60 more.
BIM 360’s price to license depends on the size of the projects it is being used for and which of its modules are included. They do not offer a standardized way to understand the pricing model, so interested users must contact a representative to learn more about what the costs are for their unique business. BIM 360 is a bit more expensive than basic construction project management solutions.
Because of the collaborative nature of its features, it generally makes sense for larger teams or very large projects which involve a great deal of coordination between different teams. We recommend BIM 360 as the Best Construction Management Software for Large Projects and Teams.
Plangrid is an extremely popular construction project management solution. They receive great reviews from users across the web. Plangrid is a young company, founded only in 2012, but their strong reputation with a large number of customers, and a lack of complaints with the Better Business Bureau, makes them a trustworthy choice.
Plangrid’s software is accessible from any device with a web browser. This is the ideal way for Mac users to access Plangrid, but for Windows, Android, and iOS users, Plangrid has custom apps for each platform.
Plangrid is designed for all kinds of firms, including general contractors, subcontractors, owners, and designers. They also offer solutions for specific construction industries, including commercial, heavy civil, industrial, healthcare, and education.
Plangrid also has one of the most comprehensive feature sets of any construction project management tool, spanning the gamut of project management needs – document management, progress tracking, and reporting. Their features include submittal management, RFIs, punch lists, and field reporting to name a few.
The number of integrations that Plangrid supports is almost jaw-dropping, and may just be the most of any project management software. Some of the popular products that Plangrid has integrations for include Asana, Basecamp, Box, CMiC, DocuSign, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, eSUB, Jonas Premier, RedTeam, and SalesForce. The complete list of Plangrid integrations is actually much longer than just the products we named here.
There are several pricing tiers that Plangrid uses to price their software. Each tier includes an unlimited number of projects, photos, and documents. The software is priced by number of “sheets” used monthly, where a sheet is a pdf project plan. Each time you save an edit to a plan, it adds another sheet to the monthly tally as well. A single project could make use of any number of plan sheets, depending on its size. This pricing model is generally very fair, because it scales with the size of the project. The pricing tiers are as follows:
- $49 per month for 550 Sheets ($39 per month if paid annually)
- $69 per month for 5000 Sheets ($59 per month if paid annually)
- $139 per month for Unlimited Sheets ($119 per month if paid annually)
Because of Plangrid’s great feature set and phenomenal user experience, we rate them as a runner-up in our list of best construction project management software.
Autodesk Constructware (Runner-Up)
We’ve already discussed the popularity of Autodesk and its construction management software, BIM 360. Autodesk actually offers another construction project management tool with features more focused specifically project management. Where BIM 360 includes many features that cover the design process, Constructware is focused on managing a project’s cost and schedule from groundbreak to project completion.
Being an Autodesk product, Constructware is naturally very popular. However, Constructware was originally a separate business that was acquired by Autodesk in 2006 because of their excellence in construction project management. As Constructware and Autodesk customers, users have historically received excellent customer service, according to online reviews of the software.
Constructware is “software as a service” meaning it’s a subscription model that is deployed completely online. Users access the product through a web browser from any device with a stable internet connection. It is a collaborative tool meant to be used by anyone involved with the project, including owners, architects, project managers, contractors, and subcontractors.
Constructware includes most of the essential construction project management features, such as job cost reporting and purchase order and change order tracking. The online platform is also design to ease document management and collaboration for teams. Constructware doesn’t offer any specific integrations, but does give customers the ability to create their own customer data exchange processes with a number of different platforms; however, this will require some custom code development.
This product demo will give potential users a good idea of what Constructware is all about:
Similar to Autodesk’s other products, the pricing is custom and depends on the projects being managed within the platform. Interested buyers should contact the Constructware sales team to gauge the cost commitment for their business.
Constructware is a powerful online construction project management software, and we rate them as a runner-up on our list of top construction project management software.