The market for scheduling software in construction remains in a constant state of flux. As such, contractors try to juggle their options as best they can, amid the changing landscape. While a few legacy systems may no longer be an option for construction, other new players might step up to fill the need.

One such provider is Phoenix Project Management Systems, www.phoenixcpm.com, Salt Lake City, Utah. The company recently announced a new capability called Phoenix “WorkStream” to its Phoenix Project Manager. According to the company, this upgrade is intended to reduce common complexities in the scheduling process by as much as 40% or 50%.

This includes a user-definable network diagram designed to simplify complex project bar charts into groups of work. This is intended to provide a higher degree of visibility and accountability for the process. According to Phoenix, this view will hope to recreate hand-drawn schedules from the past with the technology of today.

Also included in the process are two schedule progress views: status on current and status on master.  These capabilities allow the project team to compare the impact on the project end date and against the baseline, which can help identify where the schedule is slipping and help to take corrective action.

Construction companies like J.H. Snyder Co., www.jhsnyder.net, Los Angeles, Calif., have been using the WorkStream Network Diagram, for example, in early planning of a project. According to Pat Irvine, senior vice president of construction, J.H. Snyder Co., this allows the team to see how the whole project fits together, and where to cut time out of the original plan before even breaking ground.

Irvine adds the software lets the team quickly see what is ahead or behind schedule, and how progress in the field is affecting the plan, without the need to have in-depth technical experience to interpret the software. This can be a highly valuable aspect to using the technology, as is the ability to use the same schedule to communicate with executives.

For Jay Poulsen, president, Phoenix Project Management Systems, the key is making it easy. He points to the fact that on complex projects, understanding the critical path from the bar chart can be difficult. For this reason he says the Phoenix WorkStream process has been designed to help project teams organize projects based on how they plan to build, which can go a long way toward simplifying project delivery.

As the market for scheduling software continues to expand, construction-specific features and functions will most certainly help some systems stand out from the pack. However, at the end of the day it is all about providing contractors with that level of accountability, and perhaps most important, simplicity.