Project management systems are not new to the industry. For decades, AEC and real estate firms have benefitted from streamlined solutions to scheduling, asset management, data organization, and team correspondence, but in the past few years, the pool of software companies offering these services has dramatically deepened.

Why? With building projects increasing in scale and complexity, and advancements in BIM technology, computing power, and mobile connectivity, there is a greater need for project management solutions than ever and a much greater capacity to support applications in a highly mobile and visually driven industry.

By looking at battle-tested veterans amidst new breed upstarts, we felt it might be interesting to offer some perspective on how the approach to developing systems for project management has evolved over the years. Pioneers like Viewpoint and Autodesk continue to expand their cloud-based software to reach all corners of your project’s lifecycle, while newcomers like Procore are turning heads with their nimble and intuitive mobile platforms.

This list of PM players is, in fact, not at all exhaustive! There are many other players we have not covered here (check out our website for more). However, the Built World is a very big place. With hundreds and thousands of players, in the United States alone at all levels of the value chain, phases in the life cycle, and varieties of end-products, there may be plenty of room for different solutions for different needs.

The following listing in roughly chronological order may provide some perspective on how those needs have been addressed over the long spanning effort to digitize the way we deliver our infrastructure.

The First Wave

The Rise of The Cost Engineer, the Scheduler and Project Controls

Perhaps, not surprisingly, early project management systems for the industry tended to be very much tied to accounting and financial management software, although companies like Primavera and Autodesk sparked interest in automating critical processes associated with scheduling and plan visualization, respectively.

The Second Wave

The Internet Begins to Connect Our Teams in New Ways

With the advent of the internet in the early 90’s, project management software began its migration into the cloud, and interest in systems facilitating collaboration among teams grew. In addition to companies like e-builder, Penta, and Jonas Systems that are on our list, companies like Buzzsaw, Constructware, and BuildPoint (acquired by ConstructConnect) began to allow players in the industry to connect as never before.

The Third Wave

The Age of Mobile Apps and “big data”

With the advent of smartphones, 4G, and cheap sensors, the industry is finally able to connect the field, labor, and our many players and inputs like never before. Meanwhile cheap and abundant computing power, is allowing us to collect, transmit, and integrate massive amounts of data like never before so that we can better visualize what we are building, better track the parts and pieces, better understand the supply chain, and begin to apply artificial intelligence to the process.

The Three Waves Timeline