Inventory management is a crucial function of so many businesses. Think about grocery stores: When they’re out of stock, there is a direct impact on the bottom line.
However, grocery stores typically have a wide enough product mix such that customers have options for alternatives if a specific item is unavailable. The same is not true when managing a construction project.
When you’re out of stock in the construction industry, you feel it. After all, 50 to 60% of all construction costs come from materials, which means that successfully managing materials on a project can mean the difference between big profits and out-of-control costs. With multiple job sites and a variety of different types of materials and equipment, construction managers have to juggle a lot of moving parts.
That’s why strong, measured inventory management is so important to a successful construction project. Any slip-ups when it comes to inventory have extremely costly effects.
In the current business climate, with the rate of new construction sites surging, more construction managers are relying on cloud-based construction management software for smarter inventory management. If you’re shopping for a construction management software platform that will allow you to manage your inventory and materials more effectively, make sure they have the following four features.
1. Resource tracking and allocation
Data is vital to any business these days, and the rise of information technologies in the last 20 years has created a whole arsenal of new tools project managers can use to make smarter, more efficient decisions.
Newer construction management platforms, for instance, have capabilities that allow for the precise tracking and allocation of inventory, materials, and assets, all of which can be associated with a particular phase within a project’s timeline.
Software such as this gives construction managers a bird’s eye view of an entire project, while also providing the sort of granular, real-time data necessary to make informed decisions.
2. ‘On-the-go’ purchase order solutions
When you need additional materials, new equipment, or extra supplies, it’s time-consuming to send each request through the home office and check how it lines up with all the other aspects of your business. That’s why you need a platform that uses a purchase order solution that is completely interconnected with all aspects of your inventory management, including accounts payable, work orders, equipment, maintenance, documents, labor, time, and materials.
If you’re shopping for construction management software, choose a platform that leverages cloud technology, so you’ll be able to effectively manage all your purchasing and inventory needs from anywhere, with the insight necessary to keep your project on time and within budget.
3. Simple document management
As a construction manager, you need to be able to access, upload, and manage documents on the go. If you’re shopping for construction management software, do not overlook this feature. A fully-integrated document management system means that documents or images associated with particular aspects of a project are accessible wherever and whenever they are needed.
Purchase orders, contracts, submittals, work orders, RFIs, job site photos—these are all important documents upon which big decisions depend. If your projects require you to make real-time decisions, then document management, including the ability to upload documents of all types from anywhere, is a necessary step toward smarter inventory management.
4. Overall workflow management
Every construction project has inherent risks involved: unexpected increases in material costs, unreliable or faulty materials, delays or fluctuating deadlines, and talent and labor shortages. You need to manage inventory well, but managing the workflow, budget, and time associated with that inventory is just as important.
That’s the beauty of cloud-based construction management software: just as you’re able to manage inventory and materials, you’re also able to manage aspects of your project’s workflow, including job costs, progress, budget, time to complete, change orders, project logs, and more. A dedicated overall workflow management platform is perhaps the most effective step you can take to keep your project on time and budget.
Putting it all together
If you’re currently shopping for construction management software, run through this quick checklist before you settle on a solution. The software should enable you to:
- Track and account for every piece of inventory, regardless of location
- Associate each piece of inventory with a phase of the project
- Generate purchase orders from anywhere
- Access and manage accounts payable, work orders, equipment, maintenance, documents, labor, time, and materials.
- Upload and access all sorts of documents from anywhere, anytime, including purchase orders, contracts, submittals, work orders, RFIs, and job site photos.
- Manage workflow, including job costs, progress, budgets, time to complete, change orders, and project logs.
- Make real-time data-driven management decisions
Got any other tips for construction inventory management that you think we’ve missed? Want to highlight some software that has helped you in this area? Let us know in the comments.