"Excel just wasn’t designed to do some of the heavy lifting that companies need to do in finance.” So says Paul Hammerman, a business applications analyst at Forrester Research Inc. Despite that generally accepted fact, spreadsheets continue to be widely used as the default tool of choice for managing the finances of construction projects large and small. Most individuals that find themselves in this situation however, would enthusiastically agree that the use of spreadsheets for this level of complexity requires a ridiculous amount of meaningless effort for very little return. Far too much effort is put into getting the data into the spreadsheet – and all the formulas straightened out – that little time is actually spent analyzing that data.
Time-phasing the project budget is as core to project controls on construction projects as pasta is to Italian food. Or hockey is to a Canadian winter. Time-phasing is so central to project controls, that in 4castplus there are five different time-phasing plans that can be setup on a single project. Actually, there are 10 – but in this article we’re mostly going to talk about one really important one.
One of the most important functions of project controls and cost engineering, is the ability to accurately forecast remaining costs-to-complete on a construction project. With the new Resource Forecasting tools in 4castplus, project controls professionals can now achieve ultimate accuracy and take full control of how projects are forecasted.
Several decades ago, organizations used to manage all their finances using big paper-based ledgers, where they’d spend much of their day “doing the books”. These large ledger books worked for hundreds of years, however it would be a challenge to find any modern company today that runs their business on paper-based accounting methods.
As the saying goes, “You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.”
Every contract is negotiable, and by negotiating, you can achieve more than you would if you simply accepted what was offered; or refused.
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.
Cash moves at a different pace than activities. Maybe that seems obvious, or maybe you’re not sure what I’m talking about; but it’s an important distinction to understand in construction project management.
Project Management = More Than You Think
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.
Top 9 signs you need construction cost tracking software and how 4castplus can help:
#1. You have way too many spreadsheets
Your Site Foremen probably use one or more spreadsheets to capture the daily hours and activities of your crews and equipment for each of your jobsites. You may also have a few contractors working for you that submit their spreadsheet to your site personnel for approval. Then there are the expenses, documents, scanned receipts, safety and inspection reports, etc. that you need to include into the mix, and if you’re a contractor yourself, everything needs to be combined and organized for your client’s Site Superintendent to sign and stamp.