To paraphrase an old saying, the construction industry ain’t what it used to be. For an industry that was once considered ‘laggard’ when it comes to technology adoption, software sure is finding its way into the hands of more and more construction professionals. As you are attempting to navigate through the sea of software options for project management, accounting, document management, and more, the Constructech Top Products can be a resource to help recognize some of the ‘top’ solutions in the construction market.
In fact, Constructech Top Products was developed at the request of readers. Construction professionals were looking for a way to filter through the many technology choices on the market. From this, the first Constructech Top Products were unveiled in 2008 as a way to help contractors identify some of the leading technology solutions in construction.
Five years later, the technology needs of construction professionals have evolved. The amount of data on projects has grown exponentially, requiring contractors to carefully look at how document-management and collaboration solutions can help manage the proliferation of information. Everything associated with a job, from invoices to models, holds value. Technology is helping teams not only store information, but share it as well.
Today, specialty and service contractors are more readily using construction technology and are looking for integrated solutions to help with estimating, BIM (building information modeling), and more. Owners are looking for tech-savvy partners to provide models and other project information in the turnover package—moving data seamlessly from construction to operations.
Construction companies are asking key questions such as: how can we create a strategy for mobility; what role will technology play in enabling collaboration; and how can we develop a more integrated IT plan across our company and our extended team of partners; among others. These big-picture questions are requiring contractors to look at technology in new ways.
As the needs of construction companies change, so does the way in which we present the Constructech Top Products. This year, the layout is a bit different, designed specifically with the intent to allow readers to quickly filter through different primary business applications. On the subsequent pages, enhanced writeups of products are called out by application—project management, accounting, and more—to help you easily locate the solution you need.
Mobile, collaboration, and BIM are a few words that have been thrown around the industry a lot in the past year. As contractors look to develop new initiatives for business, technology will play a fundamental role in enabling such initiatives. But as you drill down to the specifics of technology implementation, there are a lot of elements to consider. Do you want a fully integrated construction-management system? Is the platform built on a flexible and scalable platform?
When judging for the 2012 Top Products, the editors of Constructech looked at all of this, taking into consideration the core functionality of the construction technology, as well as new, innovative features.
As always, technology can fall under one of two categories: New Products or Trusted Products. New Products are those that have been in the market for less than three years, and display a solid technology foundation with the potential for future growth. Trusted Products, on the other hand, have been in the market for at least three years, and have a good technology backbone, with timely enhancements specifically designed for needs of the construction market.
Whether you are just embarking on the search for construction software or you are a veteran looking to develop new strategies for the year ahead, this year’s list of Constructech Top Products could be a good place to identify some of the leading solutions in the construction industry.
San Bruno, Calif.
The amount of data on a project is growing exponentially each year—partly due to the amount of information associated with BIM (building information modeling) and 3D models. How can you more effectively manage this data? In many cases, the answer could be a collaboration platform. The Aconex Online Collaboration Platform manages correspondence, documents, and the workflow of drawings, BIM and 3D models, contracts, reports, and schedules, among others. The system allows documents to be shared through one centralized and secure platform. The Constructech editors like that the platform was designed with the entire team in mind, giving all project participants control of data and how it is stored and shared. The company has come to market with apps for the iPhone, as well as new features for BIM and 3D model management and O&M manuals, among others.
Identifying a conflict early can save time and money. Bentley Navigator V8i allows AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) teams to interactively view, analyze, and augment project information. The product not only allows users to do clash detections to solve conflicts early, but also provides greater insight across the project for improved collaboration. Bentley continues to update the product such as adding enhanced IFC format support. Constructech editors like how Bentley continues to develop new initiatives—as well as partner with technology providers—to facilitate data exchange across products in the construction industry. Construction teams can augment data in Navigator by registering comments in the i-models, which is a container for open information exchange and enables bidirectional feedback in dynamic workflows.
ProjectWise V8i takes project collaboration to a whole new level. This software is a work-sharing platform for content management, content publishing, design review, and asset-lifecycle management, helping AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) teams improve quality, reduce rework, and meet project deadlines. With this platform, all stakeholders—from engineers and architects, to contractors and owners—can access project information such as electronic files, drawings, renderings, 3D PDFs, and 3D prints. This makes it easier for participants to share, publish, and review content with distributed teams. These files can also be accessed on devices such as plotters and tablets. Constructech editors like how Bentley continues to update the product to make data sharing easier among the various stakeholders in the project, as well as across the various devices that proliferate the jobsite.
The PDF (portable document format) is ubiquitous in construction. With this in mind, in 2005 Bluebeam Software created a solution that takes the universal PDF format and makes it easy to review, comment, stamp, and add measurements for RFIs, submittals, bids, punchlists, and other workflows. With last year’s release of Bluebeam PDF Revu 9, the company added new features for viewing and searching PDFs and introduced Revu eXtreme. This new edition of the software comes with all the features of the CAD edition plus OCR (optical character recognition) technology for changing scanned PDFs into text searchable files. Constructech editors like that the technology automatically remembers markups made in a session so comments can be saved for future use, helping improve accountability and collaboration on a project. The software is also compatible with tablet PCs so firms can take the technology to the jobsite.
For electrical, low-voltage, and data-cabling contractors, the software allows users to take control of every project from determining labor and material requirements to laying out the building’s electrical system including branch circuit wiring. ConEst Software Systems offers IntelliBid v7, an estimating software program specifically designed for this industry. The technology from ConEst integrates with CAD (computer-aided design) software giving electrical contractors an easier way to share data between the takeoff and the design. Last fall, the company released a new version of the software built on the .NET platform using SQL Server, and with new features such as a Journal Message Center where estimators can communicate critical bid information with suppliers and contractors. The Constructech editors like that ConEst continues to reinvent the product, building out the underlying platform, functionality, and integration capabilities.
Knowing the correct labor unit for an installation—not to mention making sure the right tools, materials, and labor are on every job—could impact the bottomline. With JobTrac from ConEst Software Systems, contractors can schedule, track, and progress bill every project while creating a history of the company’s actual costs for each project. The software is integrated with ConEst IntelliBid, allowing contractors to use existing data and eliminating the need to rekey the estimate in another program. The Constructech editors like that the technology gives contractors a way to compare the original labor budget to the actual labor costs of the completed project, which allows contractors to use the data to determine a company’s unique labor factor. JobTrac’s Impact flags tasks that are not in budget or issues that are impacting a project’s progress, so the project manager can take action. Like IntelliBid, ConEst continues to build out functionality and integration capabilities with this product.
Rocky Mount, N.C.
ECM (enterprise-content management) isn’t necessarily a new term in the AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) industry, but it is one Construction Imaging embraces wholeheartedly. Content Manager is a content-management system that allows retention of data, as well as the ability to create and initiate documents and workflow. The construction-specific, enterprise-content management software integrates with all Microsoft business applications and many of the major backoffice accounting and project-management systems for the construction industry. The Constructech editors like how the technology provider has introduced support for new Web and mobile browsers, as well as created a new photo-capture application for the iPhone. Overall, the technology from Construction Imaging creates a data-retention plan for construction companies, while offering solid integration with Microsoft Office and other industry applications.
Huntington Beach, Calif.
Mobility, collaboration, and integration. These are three areas Corecon Technologies continues to focus on with the development of Corecon V7. This online suite of software is designed for estimating, project management, job costing, scheduling, and collaboration. However, with the addition of CoreconLink Utilities, construction professionals can integrate Corecon V7 with software such as QuickBooks, Microsoft Office, Sage Simply Accounting, or SAP Business One. Constructech editors like the complete technology overhaul the company has done with the product. Following the editors’ selection of the product, Corecon announced another big enhancement—TeamLink Portal—for sharing project information with team members. With this, Web-based team collaboration takes on a whole new meaning. In essence, Corecon Technologies is looking to provide an overall collaboration solution for the construction industry.
Do you want a fully integrated construction-management system, but don’t feel the need to replace your existing accounting system? HomeFront Software is making inroads into the commercial construction market through its Job Simplicity product, which helps contractors tackle this very dilemma. The product features estimating, job costing, project management, scheduling, change management, and progress billing, among others, in one package, allowing contractors to integrate with accounting packages like QuickBooks or Simply Accounting by Sage. This makes the solution an ideal fit for small-to-medium-sized contractors looking to take their operations to the next level. Constructech editors like the way HomeFront has designed the system to scale to meet the needs of varying sizes of organizations, and how the company has provided targeted features like realtime variance, cost-to-complete reporting cashflow forecasting, and profit analysis.
In a market where project management is undergoing a bit of a shift, comes a product that clearly spells out its message to the market: IPM (It’s Project Management). Adopted by many heavy civil and infrastructure contractors across the globe, IPM is a Microsoft Dynamics Certified product that combines job costing, document control, contract control, resource management, and the ability to integrate accounting into a single package. By leveraging the Microsoft Dynamics framework, the appeal of the IPM product is its scalability. Constructech editors like the way in which the product uses the Microsoft Outlook—or Microsoft Internet Explorer, alternatively—user interface to create a familiar and comfortable experience for the user. For example, the system can automatically file emails that come into a user’s inbox, filing them against the corresponding transaction from which it was generated. A customizable dashboard is also appealing, helping to bring relevant information to the forefront without the need for custom reporting.
King of Prussia, Pa.
Do you want a single solution for construction management? Are you looking for one that is built on a flexible and scalable platform? Leveraging the Microsoft .NET platform and SQL Server, ProContractorMX helps any type of contractor to manage the entire project lifecycle for estimating, job-cost accounting, and project management. The product brings together the primary components of a construction business, helping to reduce inefficiencies caused by using disparate systems. A new Mobile Connect application allows contractors to use an iPad to access project information at the jobsite. In addition, new functionality such as enhanced Earthwork Measurements, equipment maintenance, AP workflow, BIM, and shape-recognition features highlight the latest upgrades. The Constructech editors like how Maxwell continually addresses the market with relevant upgrades to key areas of the business through its scalable platform.
Through a unique combination of capital planning, program and project management, business process management, and analytics, Proliance from Meridian Systems provides corporate owners with a single system of record for managing a portfolio of facilities. Launched in 2003, Proliance has been enhanced with a series of updates for version 5.0, focused on workflow improvements that consolidate and streamline tasks for owners. In particular, one program management enhancement adds a new layer of flexibility that allows corporate owners to structure and group capital projects and programs with ease. This allows for greater flexibility when sharing information like cross-project budgets and contracts, yet doesn’t compromise security. The Constructech editors like the feature that provides better high-level summarized project information at an organization level, which can be an appealing feature for corporate owners who need fast rollout for portfolios that contain many similar projects.
Pleasant Prairie, Wis.
Offering a complete system of record for managing projects, Prolog has been among the most widely used project-management systems in construction since its debut in 1993. The Constructech editors like the way in which Meridian continually evolves the platform for Prolog to match the changing dynamics of construction technology. For example, while users can still choose to use the Prolog desktop application, Prolog is also available as a Web-based application, allowing project teams to collaborate more efficiently, and provides users with flexibility to choose how they access and manage critical project data. Additionally, the Prolog product is offered through Prolog Sky services, which includes either managed host or SaaS (software as a service). The Prolog Sky options are ideal for construction firms that need to scale the number of users on the system up or down based on the needs of the business or a particular project. Enhancements to the core product help users incorporate more tools to the project-management process overall.
On Center Software’s trademarked construction project management product, Digital Production Control, is one of the technology provider’s most intuitive offerings. Digital Production Control helps construction companies actualize the exceptions created during the bid stage, allowing project managers to make adjustments as needed during construction. Constructech editors like the way in which On Center Software focuses on creating a tool that allows users to track the project in realtime in order to help proactively identify cost overruns. Digital Production Control fully integrates with both Quick Bid and On-Screen Takeoff, thus creating a single project file that project managers use to run comparisons of estimated labor budgets to actual work-in-place figures. New enhancements allow users to select custom pages when creating a bid package, reducing the size of the file being sent and making it easier for the foreman to navigate. On Center Software may be best known for its project bidding solutions, but now Digital Production Control is making subcontractors take notice of its project management solutions as well.
The name that is synonymous with the digital-takeoff revolution in construction is a registered trademark of On Center Software. On-Screen Takeoff is taking that next step in being one of the most valuable tools in the construction software market. Not only is On-Screen Takeoff in the hands of more and more contractors across the country, but it is also on the curriculum for many construction-management programs across universities. Constructech editors like the way in which the product’s core remains solid, while new features modernize On-Screen Takeoff in a way that appeals to both industry and education. The overlay feature allows users to automatically resize and align overlay images. Overlaying images allows an estimator, project manager, or foreman to easily identify change orders. The ability to custom select image/page when creating bid packages can be valuable when communicating between offices. With the “Project Express” feature, estimators reduce the amount of time involved in the bidding process and avoid email file size constraints by sending takeoffs and plans from the software.
On Center Software efficiently guides construction companies through every phase of the estimate, from the bid through project tracking. Its flagship product, Quick Bid, continues to evolve in both usefulness and functionality based on the needs of today’s highly competitive construction environment. Along with features such as eQuote, which allows estimators to submit and receive requests from suppliers, and the ability to create reports that explain all costs associated with the intended scope of work, Constructech editors like the product enhancements. In particular, On Center Software has added hundreds of Armstrong ceiling materials and more than 200 Armstrong Ceiling System Assemblies into the Quick Bid product. The launch of a new fireproofing database is yet another example of how this product continues to evolve, yet remains a staple at bid day for thousands of contractors across the country. Staying on time and on budget is a top priority for today’s construction company. On Center Software delivers a solution that helps estimators create more accurate bids.
For commercial construction companies, being able to integrate estimating and project-management capabilities provides great value by reducing redundant data entry. In ConstructionSuite, UDA Technologies provides a solution that combines these tools with CRM (customer-relationship management) capabilities in ConstructionNet, ConstructionOnline, and OnSite Mobile apps. ConstructionSuite commercial versions also integrate with leading CAD (computer-aided design), takeoff, and accounting solutions such as QuickBooks, allowing commercial contractors to continue doing business as usual in other areas while implementing new project-management technology. The company also recently announced new integration between its scheduling and industry-standard solutions like Microsoft Project and Primavera. Constructech editors like that the solid underlying functionality is already built into the product, and that UDA focuses on key integrations to other mission-critical portions of a builder’s business with its upgrades.
Scalability and flexibility were the name of the game in construction when Viewpoint Construction Software released Viewpoint V6 Software in 2007. Such freedom in product development has enabled the technology provider to deliver enhancements to this ERP (enterprise-resource planning) system that match the needs of construction. Within its 6.4 release, Viewpoint has focused on Work Centers, which provides a single source for users to navigate records, view document logs, and launch, edit, and perform tasks. A customized dashboard for project managers can be a useful feature to help track all actions in a timely and efficient manner. Financial Manager provides flexible reporting, budgeting, planning, and forecasting. Constructech editors like the way in which Viewpoint has leveraged the .NET platform to provide intuitive features for both operations and financial management, while also being able to provide users the ability to customize records in a manner most beneficial to their particular company.
Below, please find the full list of winners.
LiveCount Pro, Accubid, a Division of Trimble; Aconex Online Collaboration Platform, Aconex; Bentley Navigator V8i, Bentley Systems Inc.; ProjectWise V8i, Bentley Systems Inc.; Bluebeam PDF Revu, Bluebeam Software Inc.; Hosted eCMS Construction Management Solution, Computer Guidance Corp.; IntelliBid Estimating Software, ConEst Software Systems; JobTrac, ConEst Software Systems; Content Manager, Construction Imaging; Corecon V7, Corecon Technologies Inc.; FASTTAC Digital Drawing and Document Distribution and Archive System, FASTTAC Inc.; Project Cost Management, Hard Dollar Corp.; FreightTrain, HTS; SmartBidNet, JB Knowledge Technologies Inc.; Paperless Service Management, Jonas Construction Software; LATISTA, LATISTA Inc.; ProContractorMX, Maxwell Systems; Proliance, Meridian Systems; Prolog, Meridian Systems; NoteVault AlertMe!, NoteVault—The Ultimate CYA; Digital Production Control, On Center Software; On-Screen Takeoff, On Center Software; Quick Bid, On Center Software; PENTA, Penta Technologies Inc.; Projectmates, Projectmates/Systemates Inc.; Sage Master Builder, Sage Construction and Real Estate; Unifier, Skire Inc.; ConstructionSuite, UDA Technologies Inc; Vela Field Management Suite, Vela Systems; Viewpoint V6 Software, Viewpoint Construction Software; WennSoft Signature 2010, WennSoft
DraftLogic Electrical, DraftLogic Inc.; FM:Interact BIM Integration Component, FM:Systems; Job Simplicity, HomeFront Software; IPM – It’s Project Management, IPM Global Pty Ltd.; C3, Scenario Virtual Project Delivery; Trimble Field Link for Structures, Trimble Navigation