Every construction project includes a pre-construction process, which typically requires completing an avalanche of paperwork before you can get started, including estimates, subcontractor bids, blueprints, and bills of material (BOMs). Before you can reach the final design of the engineer or architect, you have to wade through different reports, diagrams, and lists, and they are likely all generated in silos from resources that don’t communicate with each other. Reconciling all that paper can be a nightmare—unless you rely on technology.
The goal of the pre-construction process is to solidify the project cost, scope, and scheduling so you have a plan to begin construction. The accuracy of that pre-construction plan will determine whether the project is completed on time and within budget. There are many moving pieces in any construction project, and trying to use manual processes for pre-construction planning leaves room for errors that could affect the entire project. Manual processes also make it harder to collaborate with other stakeholders in the project.
Technology is changing the way we approach pre-construction, shortening the time required to develop a pre-construction plan, streamlining data sharing, and giving contractors and subcontractors a competitive edge.
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As the name implies, pre-construction refers to anything that goes into a construction project before you actually start building. This includes site assessment, initial design, cost estimates, creating a production schedule, and assigning project responsibilities and leadership roles.
All parties involved—such as the architects, engineers, builders, and suppliers—have input into pre-construction planning. The interdependencies between design, building, and supply will affect costs, scheduling, labor requirements, and other aspects of the job. Using technology, you can grant all parties access to the same blueprints, schematics, BOMs, and related information to coordinate activity and get sign-offs from everyone involved.
A comprehensive pre-construction process also sets expectations for post construction. Final drawings, operating instructions, inspections, and other such processes should be included as part of the pre-construction plan.
Digitizing the pre-construction process simplifies everything, starting with creating a single data repository that contains all the project information. There are many elements to pre-construction planning, and having a central source of information ensures that you have the latest updates at all times. If you can integrate the pre-construction software with catalogs and software from partners and suppliers, then you can stay current with any changes.
For example, building information management (BIM) plays a significant role in pre-construction planning, providing a common platform where everyone can share plans and assess outcomes. BIM is the ideal planning tool for pre-construction because any changes in design, materials, scheduling, etc. are reflected in all the pre-construction plans.
Creating a central data source promotes better collaboration, simplifies data sharing, and ensures that all the necessary resources are aligned without having to rely on multiple catalogs and spreadsheets. Centralizing data makes it easier to generate equipment lists, parts lists, and other pre-construction data. It also provides an information center for data such as regulatory requirements, local zoning ordinances, LEED certifications, etc. You can use data sharing to maintain updated materials and labor costs and scheduling.
Technology makes pre-construction faster, reducing the time required for research and data entry. It also saves money by reducing costly errors due to incorrect information or manual mistakes. Using pre-construction planning software provides a single, end-to-end view of the pre-construction process, including change orders. The entire process is completely auditable; you can track every step, including authorizations.
Applying technology to pre-construction also offers certain business benefits. For example, you can create a proven and repeatable business process that meets the unique requirements of your operation and your suppliers and partners. It also creates a data history for analytics, simplifying risk analysis and making it easier to identify areas that can be streamlined or made more cost-effective.
When shopping for the right pre-construction tools, you should look for technology that can scale with your business. Here are basic criteria to consider:
Is the technology easy to use?
The construction industry is notorious for being slow to adopt technology, often because of user resistance. For you to get away from manual bids and spreadsheets, the pre-construction platform needs to be intuitive and easy to use, with training and educational resources readily available.
Does it integrate with other technology platforms?
The real advantage of pre-construction software is data sharing—not only with partners and suppliers but with other software platforms. Integration is the key to faster, more accurate bids and eliminating waste and errors throughout the construction process.
Will it help optimize your workflow?
Pre-construction technology should make your job easier, which means it should adapt to the way you operate your business and how you find, apply, and share information.
Does it streamline construction takeoffs?
The pre-construction process lays the foundation for everything that follows, including construction takeoffs. You should be able to apply pre-construction data to make takeoffs simpler and more accurate.
Does the historical data help improve your pre-construction process?
The data generated should tell you about the flaws in your pre-construction process and help make bidding and pre-construction faster and more accurate over time.
Choosing the right pre-construction technology can save time, money, and resources for everyone involved in any construction project. Technology streamlines every aspect of bidding and planning, promoting greater accuracy and giving you an end-to-end perspective on the project to keep you on track and in the black.
If you want to learn more about automating your pre-construction process, we can help!
ProEst helps commercial construction companies maximize profits by helping them streamline cost estimation, takeoffs, and more. We believe commercial construction companies grow at scale through visibility of data, cohesion among teams, and accurate estimating. To see how ProEst can streamline your commercial construction processes, contact one of our experts today!