Microsoft Excel SharePoint Power Pivot

Excel as a Construction Project Management Tool

July 28, 2015 by Jeff Lydon

Learn how you can unleash Excel’s hidden superpowers for your construction project team

Excel is currently the mostly widely used project management tool for construction professionals. You may not want to hear that ­­– especially if you are a VP who just implemented a multi-million dollar project management system­­ – but it’s true. Many of those overseeing programs in your company turn to Excel to handle day-to-day project management and reporting. They do this even if you have multiple in-house project management software packages at their disposal.

The widespread reliance on Excel for construction project management might surprise some readers. After all, using Excel for real project management tasks used to be a taboo in the construction industry. But most, if not all, of the construction project managers we talk with admit that Excel is their go-to tool for multi-million – even billion – dollar projects because it is easy to use.

Pros & Cons of Using Excel for Construction Project Management

Excel is a flexible and easy project management tool because it is simple for project teams to update data and create and share reports. Collaboration is easy, since everyone has Excel and is familiar with the software. This is not the case with the limited licenses and steep learning curve of proprietary project management tools.

But the same construction professionals who told us they relied on Excel were also quick to complain about its shortcomings. The most frequently mentioned limitation on using Excel to manage projects include:

• Files are stored locally so sharing and backups becomes a problem

• Consistency and control across spreadsheets isn’t enforceable

• There are often user errors and version control issues

• Excel isn’t a database

It is a classic love/hate story. The construction project managers we meet love Excel for its simplicity and ease of use, but dislike where that simplicity causes the tool to come up short.

The thing is, Excel in recent years has gained some lesser known capabilities – we consider them superpowers really – that make it an even better construction project management tool than most realize.

Excel Power Maps

Power Maps

Power Pivot

Power View

Unleashing Excel’s Superpowers for Construction Project Management

The good news for our fellow Excel-loving construction industry professionals is that recent enhancements to Excel enable it to be a more effective construction management software package.

So what’s changed?  With the release of Microsoft’s Excel PowerPivot Add-in, which is already built into to Excel 2010 and 2013 and can be turned on from the COM Add-ins menu, Microsoft has morphed Excel into a relational DAX database.  Combined with SharePoint Power Pivot Services, the entire project team can connect, report and share Excel files across the organization.

Imagine the possibilities. You can take existing Excel cost reports and other tracking spreadsheets and use Excel Power Pivot and SharePoint Power Pivot Services to turn them into full blown web-enabled applications that leverage SharePoint permissions.  It’s now possible to connect Excel to many different data sources such as SharePoint Forms and Lists, SQL tables, Access tables, and even other Excel files.  No longer do you need to purchase or build an expensive custom coded solution. These capabilities turn Excel in a project management superhero for construction professionals.

And this evolution of Excel and SharePoint places the power of building and managing solutions in your hands.  Users can straight away leverage their existing Excel files that they know and love and immediately create robust cost management tools. No long and expensive development cycles, no coding and no complicated proprietary tools required.

Ready to unleash Excel’s superpowers for your team? All of these functions and more are incorporated into Lydon Solutions Program Management Portal for ConstructionContact us for your free demo or download our brochure.

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