I’m going to start with a basic assertion: to be effective and successful in their job, Project Managers need good information and the right tools. These two things are an absolute must. A bit more specifically: project managers first need current, accurate and complete project data; then secondly, they need the right tools to analyze, and report on that data. This is especially true when managing large construction projects, where there are so many moving parts, changes, documents, contractors, costs, schedules, etc. to stay on top of. There are other things they need of course, but without these two key things, construction project managers are left feeling around in a dark room, desperately hoping to find a light switch.
More and more companies are demanding greater visibility into construction project performance. Simply put, companies want to know that funds are being well spent and that their projects are going to run to plan. As a result, increased demands are being made on project controllers to deliver timely and accurate cost and revenue forecasts to help shape business decisions. But hey, you know all about this, don’t you?
Construction contractors are increasingly adopting technology to track their daily costs and activities from the jobsite. Some will refer to this as tracking their daily LEM – which stands for Labor, Equipment and Materials – however others may call it Field Data Capture; and some may call it the Daily Field Report, or Site Superintendent Report. Although we’ve adopted an industry term, “Construction Cost Tracking” as a general name to describe the activity and process, we tend to use “LEM” as the term that describes the final document(s) that contain all the jobsite data that gets tracked.
If you’re familiar with 4castplus at all, you’ll know that the system enables contractors to track much more than labor, equipment and materials. There’s clearly much more going on than that – so a “LEM” is just a term used that encapsulates the broad variety of everything that gets tracked. Other data that gets captured in the LEM includes: labor expenses like subsistence and meals; along with 3rd party vendor expenses; material field receipts; daily log and the weather. Field personnel can also input production quantities as progressed items that are completed. It also allows field personnel to upload any number of documents into organized document repository categories. There’s additionally a very powerful Vendor LEM option to track the costs and expenses from subcontractors.
Any organization that executes on major projects will know the importance of gathering information on how far along they are on a project. In other words, evaluating Percent Complete. Evaluating that by activity, by phase, by project, etc. At 4castplus, we refer to this as a "Progress Measurement" and it serves as a critical function for calculating analytics such as Earned Value Management (EVM) metrics. Measuring progress however, is a tricky thing to do; and can cause companies to not bother with it if they don’t have a good system and process in place. This is unfortunate as it is a vital part of project management and project controls on major projects. Without it, you’re flying in the dark.
If you’re like most companies that run construction projects, you know that getting accurate and real-time cost data from the jobsite can present many challenges. If you’ve never considered a software system to take on the heavy lifting of that process, here are the top 9 signs you need construction cost tracking software and how 4castplus can help:
Before I get started on the details, I’ll give you a quick definition: A CPI Forecast allows project controls professionals to predict the performance of their project using a subjective CPI value rather than the calculated CPI that’s determined based on past performance.
I was visiting a client yesterday helping them get started with some new projects they were planning. They’re a fairly new client and are still working through some of their internal processes with respect to how they’re going to take full advantage of this enterprise software they've just adopted. They were engaged in a very productive, but heated dialogue about how to manage this transition. The challenges they face are similar challenges that most companies would in this situation, so I thought it’d be worth writing about.