The Best 4 Free Construction Management Technology Out There

Construction management technology: the free version

Free at last
Pen and paper. Westend61 // Getty

If you hear the word “technology,” do you think of microchips? Earth movers? Or maybe something completely different? Machines, computers, and software are all examples of technology, but so are techniques and processes. In construction management, technology has a key role to play in improving performance and results. It also extends further than many people imagine. Best of all, a lot of useful technology – in the wider sense of the word – to assist construction management is free if you know where to look.

Helping to Do Construction Management Properly

Construction managers plan, decide, communicate, and automate building project activities. Technologies they use should be of practical benefit in supporting these activities. However, that doesn’t mean technology has to be complex. Simpler solutions can be very effective, and “free” in terms of little or no effort required to use them, not just because you don’t have to pay for them.

Pen and Paper

At a time when the construction industry is heading towards digitalization and virtualization, this combination still stands out as an instant-on, work-anywhere, no-battery-needed resource.

  • At the beginning of a construction project, a “back of an envelope” plan lets you pinpoint and jot down the key success factors as you discuss with a colleague.
  • A blank sheet of paper becomes a rapid pros and cons decision maker, using the “Ben Franklin” technique. Write the advantages of building decision “A” compared to “B” in one column and the disadvantages in another. The bigger column wins.
  • Use sticky notes to get right down to business with informal huddles around a white board. Don’t wait for people to fire up their computing devices. “Do it now” with a tool that has everybody sharing and concentrating on the same thing.

Results and conclusions from these approaches need to be stored for future access on an ongoing basis.

Pens, paper, and sticky notes then rapidly show their limitations compared to IT, for example. All the same, as simple, intuitive, free (or at least, a marginal cost of zero) catalysts to get things moving, they are hard to beat.

The Internet

With still so much unused potential, the Internet is an immense repository of useful construction management information.   

  • Answers to questions. Try typing a question into a major Internet search engine, just as you would ask it to somebody next to you. Search engines will often come back with sources of information that are surprisingly relevant to the problem you want to solve.
  • Better management techniques. Whether for construction management in particular or for management in general, the Internet abounds in free resources to help you apply new and different techniques for improved results.
  • Communication. There is a rich and freely accessible range of communication resources to go with the different information resources too. Coffee shops offer free Wi-Fi to get onto the Internet, while services like Twitter and Gmail allow you to exchange information with others, wherever, whenever.

Brains (Other People’s!)

We already noted that technology also embraces techniques and knowhow, not just devices and machines.

While search engines and forums on the Internet can already help, you can go one step further by finding a good mentor. A mentor is someone with experience and knowledge, who is willing to help you progress without being paid to do so. Advantages can include short cuts to good decisions (the mentor’s knowhow becomes the technology you use), as well as coaching in the application of relevant techniques and processes.

Software

Whether it lives in the web or runs locally on your PC or mobile computing device (smartphone, tablet), free software can be had to help you in many aspects of construction management:

  • Office and administrative work (text processing, spreadsheets and more)
  • Building project management
  • Construction accounting
  • Cost estimating
  • Automation of different IT-based tasks and routines for managing construction projects.

    Remember that free trials are often available for otherwise paying software too. That means you can rapidly see which solution will suit you better, without having to invest anything upfront.