WPL Publishing Launches Its 2013 Construction Schedule Software Survey; Preliminary Results Are In
By Paul Levin
This past Tuesday, WPL Publishing launched its first survey on construction scheduling software. It is intended to collect information about the extent to which computer-generated schedules are used in construction projects and about the software that is being used to create the schedules. The independent survey also seeks feedback on the various scheduling programs currently in use. We want to hear from professionals who have hands-on experience creating and managing the schedules as well as professionals who may be using reports and charts produced by a schedule to plan and manage projects. If you have yet to participate in the survey, please take three minutes to provide your input by clicking on the link below. If you are not actively involved in using schedules or managing construction projects, please forward this email to those in your organization who may possess such expertise, including project managers, project engineers, contract administrators, project controls personnel, planners, and, of course, schedulers.
Click here to take the survey.
With 140 responses submitted so far, we thought we would report some of the early results. Here are the observations that stood out from those results:
Almost half of the respondents represent the contractor-side of the construction community and include contractors, sub/trade contractors, and construction managers. The balance of the respondents are owners, architect/engineers, and consultants. Regarding their involvement with schedules, project managers comprised the largest group of respondents, representing 20 percent of all survey participants thus far, trailed by schedulers and project controls staff. We are surprised by the low turnout of contract administrators and resident engineers.
In looking at the type of projects where critical path method (CPM) schedules are required, another surprise relates to the share of commercial projects, which represents nearly 50 percent of the projects among respondents. We expected to see government and public projects leading the way, and we also expected energy and industrial projects to be near the top.
We asked respondents how often CPM software is used and why. Respondents indicated that on 58 percent of their projects, owners required a CPM schedule for progress reporting and on one-quarter of their projects for measuring progress payments. We will study this in more detail for the final report. We suspect that progress payment reporting use will be dominated by government and public projects. It is heartening to see that 60 percent of respondents use CPM scheduling to plan and manage their projects.
Respondents also were asked to indicate their experience with any of 16 software products listed as answer options. The clear leader here was Microsoft Project at 80 percent, with the various Primavera products close behind. Interestingly, there are seven additional write-in products provided. In the upcoming months, we will use this data to post a scheduling software directory onto the ConstructionPro Network website (ConstructionProNet.com). Keep these suggestions coming! Thank you for your participation. In case you are wondering, those who reported that when CPM software was not used, Excel was the tool of choice while 33 percent still rely on paper.
The highlights of the final survey will be the answers provided to our "Top Three Wish-List" requests for construction scheduling software. With more than 200 discreet items requested, ease-of-use is clearly the comment most often provided. We also received several specific technical requests for specific products, as well as requests for certain functionalities. In the latter case, solutions often are already available, one of the reasons we believe a CPM software directory will prove useful. Other general categories on the wish list include output, training, and interfaces to other applications. Finally, it is concerning that there were at least four comments about accuracy and data consistency, which raises the question: Is this a problem? We look forward to receiving many more comments and categorizing them in our final report, which is scheduled for release in early October.
In summary, this quote from Dennis Spors in Shanghai, China, wraps up what appears to be a sentiment reflecting the ease-of-use requirement: "There are usually two types of people; those who know how to use the program and those who can schedule a project. It is rare to find one person who is good at both." Do you agree? We invite your comments.
Click here to take the survey.