When you are implementing a collaborative construction project management application that will be used by architects, engineers, contractors and consultants, it is important that every participant trust the chosen solution. Construction management software delivers not only important cost savings, it also provides a trusted third-party information cache for managing crucial project information including drawings and schematics, cost information, audit trails and more.
Evaluating an application for deployment requires consideration along a number of dimensions, including data integrity, application availability, data ownership, and what happens at the end of the project. These are explored in further detail below.
When the application is hosted by one of the project participants there is always the possibility that a participant could disable access to other project team members, or worse yet, alter project records by changing data stored in the database. To prevent this from occurring, the application should be hosted by either the vendor in a software-as-a-service (SAAS) or cloud-computing model, or at least hosted by a neutral third-party application service provider.
The application needs to be highly available – 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Whether you host the application yourself or use a third-party, you should verify that they have redundant data centers and redundant equipment to ensure that the application is available 99.99% of the time. The vendor should also provide a service level agreement (SLA) stipulating when they perform maintenance and when they notify you of this maintenance. Make sure you review maintenance windows as not all vendors conduct maintenance on the weekend or during off-hours.
Before your teams starting using any construction management software, your project participants need to have established data ownership terms within their respective contracts. The data stored in the application should belong to the project participants and not the software vendor. With collaborative teams spanning multiple organizations, it is important to spell out data ownership at the beginning of the project.
When the project is complete, all the project participants will need copies of their respective project data for their records. The vendor should provide a minimum of one copy of the project data in a format that can be read without having to purchase proprietary software. Adobe PDF is an excellent format for documents like RFIs, Submittals and Pay Estimates that were stored in the vendor’s database. Pictures, drawings and other files that have been uploaded should be delivered in their native file format.
Selecting a trusted third-party for delivering your construction management software increases acceptance and use of the application, resulting in greater cost savings and improved project control.