3 Preconstruction Activities Ready for Innovation


Since 2014, BuiltWorlds has been keeping a pulse on the state of technology in the construction industry. More formally, the BuiltWorlds benchmarking program was released in 2018 which has allowed our team to gather primary data on what technology contractors are using, what they like, and what else is available to the market. Construction tech benchmarking research has since split into 5 major topics: preconstruction, project management, field management solutions, tools/equipment/robotics, and prefabrication.

In advance of the release of our 2023 preconstruction tech specialty reports and 2023 Annual Benchmarking report release in March, it is important to understand the sentiment behind preconstruction processes and technology. As is increasingly obvious, technology solutions looking for a problem do not thrive in this industry; rather, understanding a need in the market and building a solution to address that need is a critical component of innovation. Below is a visual of how contractors perceive the risks associated with preconstruction activities from our benchmarking data. In other words, here are where contractors see problems that need to be solved.


Why Are These Activities Risky?

Contractors have clearly identified bid management and prequalification, estimating, and scheduling as critical risk areas associated with the preconstruction phase. Why are these so important to the success of a project?


  • Bid Management & Prequalification -  The process of soliciting, receiving, and aggregating estimates for a scope or scopes of work, and then identifying if the company submitting the estimate is qualified to perform the work
  • Estimating - The process in which the scope of labor, materials, equipment, duration of schedule, and overall costs of project deliverables are assessed to forecast the demands of the project for their organization and any other organizations under contract
  • Scheduling - The process of analyzing and coordinating all activities required for the successful completion of the project

Combined, these three activities provide an understanding of what is needed to complete a project, and identifies the parties that will be able to successfully meet those needs.

How Can Technology Help?

There are many different forms of technology that can help not just in preconstruction but in a more general way as well. Technology solutions can provide a variety of benefits, including storing data, communicating data, monitoring a process, and other tasks that make daily life easier. There are also more advanced technology solutions including robotics and artificial intelligence that can augment or replace human activity in a substantial way. How can these technologies help with our preconstruction problems?

Bid Management & Prequalification

In the 2000's, fax machines were a primary technology solution in order to solicit and receive bid documents. In the next decade, and even still to this day, email is now a key solution to communicate bid documents, manage estimates, and work with partners and vendors. As technology has evolved, platform solutions allow estimating teams to more clearly and easily aggregate, communicate, and track large amounts of data.

Construction has also traditionally been a relationship-driven business, where business get familiar with a partner or vendor and continue to rely on them. With the introduction of prequalification technology, the process of identifying and evaluating a company is not only in one place, but it can be automated to require minimal effort from the project team


The days of using a scale to measure 2D drawings are not yet long gone, but technology has offered some meaningful advancements to this activity. AI and robotics solutions are becoming more prevalent, not necessarily to develop and submit hard bid estimates yet, but certainly to develop initial estimates, design-build initial pricing, and other key exercises during the precon phase.


The two technology solutions you are familiar with today, Primavera and Microsoft Project, are the same two you would have been familiar with had you been scheduling in the 1980's. And, frankly, scheduling doesn't look a whole lot different functionally from 40 years ago either. There are more recently solutions utilizing artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to develop "better" schedules; however, this technology has yet to be proven. What has become more prevalent is scheduling analytics, where a software has the ability to assess a traditional schedule and provide analytics which can be used to potentially improve the project roadmap.

In the coming weeks, benchmarks of these, along with three other preconstruction areas, will identify the technology solutions contractors across the globe are using, piloting, and interested in. One would think, based on the above, interest in bid management & prequal, estimating, and scheduling solutions would be quite high.