How you manage your construction projects is unique to your organization, so shouldn't your construction project management software be as well?
Lydon Solutions has been developing custom Project Management Information Systems (PMISs) for the construction industry using Microsoft SharePoint and SQL Server since 2009. Over the years, we have found that every company, every project, and every project manager manages their projects differently. While there are standard practices across the construction industry, there is no one-size-fits-all process used across the scope and breadth of major construction projects.
Given the above, why do so many companies try to make do with an out-of-the-box PMIS when they really need and want a custom solution? The answer is: many management teams incorrectly assume that a custom solution is too expensive and time-consuming to implement. Here is why they are wrong.
The hidden costs of an out-of-the-box PMIS
Custom solutions strike fear in some companies because of their reputation for being expensive and taking too much time to implement. Instead of getting a custom solution that fits their needs and processes, these companies end up doing a combination of the following:
- Working around the limitations of an out-of-the-box PMIS
- Looking the other way as project teams do most of their work in Excel because the company PMIS is too cumbersome to use
- Hiring more people to do the manual administrative tasks required by their inflexible off-the-shelf PMIS
In other words, rather than investing in a solution that works for them, many organizations struggle with tools that ultimately cost them more in the long run.
If companies performed a cost-benefit analysis, they would see that implementing a custom PMIS has the following long-term benefits over their status quo system:
- A custom PMIS mirrors your work processes, allowing you to optimize your business processes for efficiency.
- A custom PMIS offers greater scalability as your organization changes. You can flexibly adapt to changes in process, scope, resources, and so on.
- Since a custom solution includes just what you need, you do not have to pay for unnecessary hardware or functionality. You can also reduce your reliance on offline tools.
- Your organization likely uses other enterprise platforms. Your custom solution can integrate with all the other software products in use by your company, adding more efficiency in to your workflows.
- Having a solution that lets your teams be more efficient and do their job better can give you a strategic advantage over your competitors using rigid off-the-shelf solutions.
- When your PMIS more closely aligns with how you actually do business, the more likely it is that your organization will use the system.
Okay, you might wonder if an off-the-shelf system costs more over time; why don't all organizations go with a custom solution that better fits their needs? Most likely because they are intimidated by the planning required to launch a custom solution successfully.
The cost of a custom PMIS solution lies in the planning
Surprisingly, the cost and challenges of building a custom PMIS have shifted from IT development to upfront planning, requirements, and overall design. Platforms like Microsoft 365 have made it easier than ever to deliver custom solutions. Ultimately, the cost of the custom PMIS and its success is contingent on how well companies can articulate their vision of how the system should function to support their business needs. And how well an IT consulting company, which knows construction, can translate those requirements into a real solution. As with any construction project, you can't build without a solid design. The same goes for IT.
I want a custom PMIS, but where do I start?
In prior posts, we outlined the best practice to follow when rolling out a new PMIS at your organization. We have articles on planning, evaluating technology, implementing, and supporting a PMIS. You can start there to understand the big picture of delivering a PMIS. If you are considering using Microsoft 365 as the foundation of your PMIS, our previous blog post has some tips as well.
If you need additional help with the upfront planning or development for a custom PMIS solution, I invite you to submit a free consultation request with Lydon Solutions. We have an experienced team of construction and IT professionals with a track record of delivering award-winning PMIS solutions. We also have an expanding catalog of integrated Construction Viz apps that you can combine to fast-track your own fully customizable PMIS solution in Microsoft365 and SharePoint.