Construction and software development are very different industries, but their project delivery processes have interesting similarities. Both businesses deal with projects that are unique, contrasting with the large batches of identical products found in manufacturing. Also, construction and development both depend on effective project management – a poorly managed project will likely have issues even if the team is composed of experts.
Communication is key when managing both software development and construction engineering. This includes communication with the client and communication among team members. The first step for a successful project delivering is ensuring all team members understand client requirements and technical specifications.
Importance of Client Requirements in Coding and Construction
One of the first challenges in both coding and construction is defining the performance requirements of the project. This involves a detailed discussion with the client, where needs and preferences are translated into technical specifications and performance features. After defining the project scope, the next step is negotiating a project deadline and budget with the client.
A central element of project management is balancing the scope, delivery time and cost, since any decision that deals with one factor affects the other two. For example, if the client needs an earlier delivery date without reducing the scope, the project will likely become more expensive due to overtime.
Assembly line manufacturing deals with large batches of identical products, but this approach does not work in coding and construction. Software and buildings have a thing in common – both must be custom-tailored according to client requirements. Technical specifications and a project plan are the starting point in both software development and construction. These documents guide work activities for both developers and design engineers.
Similarities Between Software Sales and Building Sales
Software and buildings are similar in how the finished products are delivered to the end user. Consider the two most common purchasing options in both cases:
- Residential and commercial property can be sold or rented.
- The software can be purchased directly, or it can be obtained as a service through a monthly subscription (Software as a Service, or SaaS).
When software is purchased, the client must normally pay for subsequent upgrades. However, their upgrades are bundled into the service agreement when software is obtained through a subscription. This is similar to how a building user becomes responsible for maintenance when a property is purchased, but the owner remains in charge of maintenance management and building upgrades in a rented property.
Owning a building involves a maintenance staff, just like a software solution must be managed by an IT staff. A client who purchases a software package or a building must also hire the qualified personnel to service it, but this responsibility is delegated to the supplier when renting or using SaaS.
The Role of Project Managers
Case studies about successful project management often use software development or construction administration as examples. Due to the unique nature of projects in these industries, best practices are strongly recommended. Adequate planning, risk management and effective communication all contribute to success when delivering a project that must meet specific client requirements – this applies for both buildings and software solutions.
Project managers must combine technical knowledge and people skills to direct projects successfully. They must understand client requirements, which are often expressed in a non-technical way, and translate them into performance features for the finished product.
Another common element of coding and construction is managing a multidisciplinary team. Software development involves specialization areas like web development, Big Data, AI and graphics; and construction involves areas like structural, mechanical and electrical engineering.
Michael Tobias PE is a visionary in the construction industry. His passion resonates as the
Founding Principal of New York Engineers, an Inc 5000 fastest growing company. New York
Engineers is the most innovative construction engineering firm focusing on Mechanical,
Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) engineering designs in Chicago and New York. Michael has overseen the design of over 1000 construction projects in all market sectors, including LEED certified and Passive House certified projects. He leads a global team of 50 top performers.