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Exploring the Evolving State of Project Management and Document Management in the Construction Industry


When asked to explore the current state of Project Management and Document Management in the Construction industry, a mix of excitement and apprehension filled me. The topic is vast and dynamic. How can one boil down the automation of the Project Management function, which has been evolving over the last 20 years, into the space of a blog or brief white paper? But it is perhaps needed to provide some context for all the activity around automation and solutions as contractors attempt to make important solution decisions. When one looks back to where the industry was five or ten years ago to now, we can see many positive changes. At the same time, one could say there remains plenty of opportunity for improvement, based on the behavior of the industry.

The Impact of Procore

It is difficult to overstate the impact Procore has had in the industry. An easy-to-use and broadly adopted Project Management application that is highly collaborative and cloud-deployed is clearly what the industry has needed. Many general contractors are using Procore for their engineering documents and drawings. Some are experimenting with the cost management function as well as Safety/Quality Assurance functions. These functions were initially less mature but are evolving quickly.

Procore’s Marketplace and Integration Strategy

One decision Procore made early on was to foster a marketplace for the development of add-on applications much like Salesforce did years ago. This is certainly gaining momentum and allowing many others to enhance the overall functionality of the platform. Integration with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platforms has been a cornerstone of their overall strategy and has been improved through different solutions. However, certain ERP solutions appear less motivated to work on integrating with a solution that they perceive as a significant competitive threat.

Competition in the Marketplace

It is worth noting that Procore is not alone in the marketplace. It may have taken Trimble, Autodesk, Oracle and others to get their bearings once Procore’s popularity became clear, but these major industry players are aggressively developing solutions of their own to compete with Procore. They are working on their own terms, developing capabilities that best complement their other solutions. One could anticipate that one day Autodesk’s Construction Cloud offering would be better integrated with their Revit models than other Project Management solutions, beyond just offering a model viewer. Trimble’s native Project Management solution, called Team, is designed to be well integrated with their ERP solutions Vista and Spectrum. Autodesk has embedded PlanGrid functionality into their Construction Cloud offering, which makes sense given the popularity of their planned collaboration solution.

The Rise of Low-Code/No-Code Capabilities

Another trend is the addition of low-code/no-code capabilities within certain platforms. This is more than just a form-builder; it includes logic, look-up and posting capabilities. While more powerful and workflow-oriented, an IT professional or business analyst would be needed to leverage the tool effectively.

Specialty Contractors’ Perspective

Specialty contractors are both cautious and relieved by the emergence and domination of Procore. When speaking with the foremen on jobs, it is clear they appreciate having convenient access to documents and records, the availability of updated plans, and the ability to view the model when available. However, the corporate side of the contracting company is somewhat concerned. The issue of document sovereignty has not yet been solved and is becoming more pronounced. Contractors are placing their data and documents in someone else’s platform, which may not be available indefinitely once a job is complete. This is the case with Procore and many other solutions in use today (i.e., Textura, PM Web, and other owner-based platforms). Today, the concerns of Legal and Risk Management are acknowledged; not much is being done to solve this problem.

The Need for Enterprise Content Management

While solutions like Procore have document management capabilities, it is essentially a dedicated folder structure for organizing project-specific documents in a cloud platform for immediate use. But much like Box, Dropbox and Egnyte, this approach does not begin to address the longer-term content management needs of the organization. Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions are designed and built with different objectives in mind. Ready access is still important, but they are focused on longer-term storage and retrieval needs. They include more specialized security, metadata tags, advanced search, record retention rules, and customized workflows. They typically have adapters ready-made for acquiring, tagging, and storing all forms of documents, drawings, photos, and other content intended for long-term storage. This technology has been around for two to three decades and is one more solution slow to be adopted in Construction.

The Shift in Storage Strategy

Contractors are starting to view this content-centric storage strategy more holistically and are no longer depending on simplistic cloud storage platforms. It only takes one sales tax audit, a notice of discovery, legal claim, or DOL audit to make the importance of this technology and approach evident. The initiative becomes more CFO and CIO-lead that is focused on risk mitigation and record retention, rather than something strictly focused on Project Managers and the field. Compliance management can also be built into these solutions, which means that rules around records can be monitored, and personnel alerted when non-compliance events occur.

The Importance of Business Intelligence and Data Analytics

The other trend that is impactful is the focus on business intelligence and data analytics. Procore and other Project Management solutions offer this ‘out-of-the-box’. But it is project-specific and project-centric. If you are a specialty contractor and your customers demand use of eBuilder, Procore, Aconex and other solutions, getting a view of your project health across the business is almost impossible. And for General Contractors and Construction Managers, Procore and others can offer a view of project health, but not enterprise health. How does one get a view on HR recruiting, opportunities in customer relationship management, equipment utilization and availability, or financial information? Contractors are coming to terms with their need for real-time enterprise data.

The Cost of Project Management Solutions

The cost of Project Management solutions is surely on everyone’s mind. Some General Contractors are able to recover the fee from the owners that are willing to pay. With the flood of solutions in the marketplace, contractors need to carefully evaluate their requirements. Some solutions are stronger in cost management than others. Some platforms are more functional for owners while others are more beneficial for the contractor. Some solutions are targeting the specialty contractor marketplace and maneuvering around the General Contractor marketplace. When considering a Project Management solution, it is better to evaluate the options that best fit your particular niche.


In short, one could say that contractors should look beyond their Project Management solutions for their overall document management and data strategy. Focusing on business processes will be imperative to accomplish this. The use of solutions like Procore and others, if implemented well, will go a long way towards conditioning data to be viewed via dashboards and other business intelligence tools.

If you would like to learn more about construction technology or how to leverage project and document management software for your firm, please contact Burger Consulting Group.

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