Jim Dawkins, U.S. Channel Manager for Elecosoft

If you work in construction and use scheduling software, you’ve likely found that the scheduling tool you were given to use doesn’t fit with what really happens day-to-day on a construction site. The software wasn’t designed with construction in mind. And, that can lead to frustration.

Frustration can lead to your team not doing formalized scheduling on all jobs. And that, of course, can lead to poor on-time performance, jumbled resource scheduling, lost revenue, and unhappy clients.

Many schedulers say their scheduling software’s functionality is just too basic for the task or, conversely, that it is way too complicated for what they need. On the one hand, it doesn’t provide the tools needed and on the other, it takes way too much time to learn and produce a schedule.

Obsolescence is another key complaint among schedulers.

Jason Werkeiser, project manager for the Norwood Group fought this issue as the construction management firm tried to keep Suretrak, a ubiquitous tool in the 1990s and early 2000s, working. The legacy software “had more and more problems with other system updates we were making,” he said.

Whatever the reason, many forward-thinking construction firms are now looking for a solution that can help them make scheduling a competitive advantage and a system that can grow with them in the next decade…and beyond.

If your firm is in a similar situation, there are some key points to consider when looking for a replacement scheduling system. Here are a few that project managers tell us are important to them:

  1. Works the way they do – Most project schedulers have other responsibilities outside of creating schedules. An overly complex system that takes too much time to build schedules won’t get used unless specifically required in the contract. Then, the benefit of project scheduling is lost. Features like drag-and-drop schedule building and the ability to cut-and-paste from Excel, for instance, were requests from Asta Powerproject’s customers that allow them to get the job done faster.
  2. Helps them meet job requirements – Construction schedulers need a system that can produce schedules which meet commonly accepted standards and can be easily understood by all parties involved. The system also needs to track changes in order to help mitigate against risk of lawsuit due to scope changes or outside delays and help defend the firm in the event of such litigation.
  3. Allows for easy import/export from and to other platforms – Often, data comes in from other companies or users so project scheduling software needs to be able to import that data from commonly used programs including Microsoft Project, Excel, and Primavera and export it back out in multiple formats.
  4. Includes solid reporting functionality – Knowledge is power and a good scheduling system tells you both how the project is performing but also how a change order would impact the overall timeline. This allows proactive measures to be taken early so the project stays on track. Reports can also keep customers and subcontractors in the loop about progress.
  5. Backed by trusted company that actually listens – If you’ve ever experienced the frustration of an obsolete product or one with limited support, you know the importance of working with a company that has a strong track record and customer orientation. Top scheduling software makers like Elecosoft (developers of Asta Powerproject) also tap into customers’ requests to drive change. Regular user group meetings, conferences, and an active customer advisory board ensures that the development roadmap sticks close to the evolving needs of users.
  6. Provides exceptional value and fair pricing – If you have many part-time or occasional schedulers, a shared licensing model could be the right option and help you save thousands. Be sure to consider the price of support plans in your calculations too.

Of course, your company’s goals will define the order of importance you place on the various criteria.

Saunders Construction recently did an exhaustive search of their own. The Colorado-based commercial builder employs many project managers who only schedule and plan jobs occasionally. For them, Asta Powerproject was the right fit because of its intuitive and robust functionality. Additionally, it’s shared pricing model allowed the company to give more users access to the tool at a lower price than competitive systems.

“With Asta we now have a very effective and efficient tool that is helping us achieve all of our goals of improved scheduling and planning throughout Saunders,” said company president Greg Schmidt.

Rob Strickland, Project Manager at PCS Builders, LLC in Cleveland, Ohio also found Asta Powerproject to be the “clear choice” for their firm.

“It had the power and functionality we needed,” he said. “And, it had several unique features to better serve the construction industry – the ability to set up customized templates for scheduling, unique reporting capabilities, and its ability to effectively progress a schedule so that we can accurately track our projects’ performance.”

You can learn more about Asta Powerproject and how contractors around the world use it to get more done by visiting www.astapowerproject.com (http://www.astapowerproject.com/scheduling-tool-designed-construction/). The company also offers a 14-day no-obligation demonstration copy for download on the site.