Five Major Downsides of Open-Source Construction Technology

Open source facilitates free reign—but in construction, that can be a bad thing. Let’s explore why.

About 75 percent of the world’s software is open-source according to the Future of Open Source Survey. This makes virtually anyone capable to code albeit rather for themselves since sellable products come with top-notch professional tech support. Something that’s always going to be missing in open-source software.

The construction sector’s complexity is crawling its way into the smallest project decisions. Project managers are turning to innovative software to resolve old issues dragging projects through delays and cost overruns. At the same time, they seek affordability in onboarding such software that acts as a centralized smart data management system that synergizes on-ground activities with decisions made in the boardroom. However, meeting that sweet spot isn’t always realistic. Free construction technology may work for specific projects but are largely ineffective due to insidious inter-operability issues with a company’s existing project software.

Ascertaining the worth of open-source construction project management software must be adequately backed by project needs. If a project involves intensive documentation, open-source software may not be able to provide document handling tools crucial for efficient information exchange.

We explore what challenges abound for owners considering open-source construction project management software.

Little and lackluster customer support

OSS construction project management software, like any other open-source system, doesn’t come with tech support. Construction companies are evolving with the kind of projects being undertaken in major industry sectors of energy, transportation, public infrastructure—they’re volatile and vulnerable to market risks requiring agile handling and constant backup. A construction company can’t afford to rely on in-house software developers providing in-the-moment support since construction software needs specialized care. Only experienced full-stack IT developers who’ve been building such software for a good deal of clients know where bugs and lags may occur and can jump right in should they jeopardize project delivery.

Besides, open-source software never has code documented; in other words, if someone alters the code to meet a specific project requirement and that surfaces issues, later on, it would be hard to understand what led to the issue in the first place since code entered by members doesn’t get recorded. This can create irrevocable errors and provide intruders with a window into project software as its unresolved code increases its vulnerability for exploitation. With no customer support, a company is left in the lurch to fix these expensive errors, to say nothing of the overall project schedule-cost overruns in bringing the project back on track.

Lacks project-specific tools

Construction documentation includes sharing heavy design files, drawings, submittals, daily logs, punch lists, invoices and the like on a regular basis. Open source construction project management software doesn’t provide these tools which can derail project documentation. This can lead to chaos in the job site as projects often encounter such situations as change orders and design implementation has gone awry due to insufficient specifications or error in execution. Contractors and field workers are required to refer to updated documents provided by architects and engineers if appropriate amends are to be made.

This isn’t possible with most open-source construction project management software. Also, the proprietary versions of certain open source applications can only be worked with prominent programs. This restricts businesses seeking open-source software from operating it in its entirety. Another reason is that developers are driven by personal motives to design customized software for a certain type of clientele—this automatically excludes other businesses with a different focus.

For these and many more reasons, open-source software can stifle project progress if not looked into carefully in tandem with project scope and requirements. Should the project survive without frequent usage of aforementioned construction document tools, then project managers stand a chance to truly benefit from it. If you’re looking for inexpensive open-source software, access this source to compare your options.

Set-up and compatibility costs can be astronomical

To get to the point of using an open-source project management software, you will need to spend a considerable amount in hiring talent to develop it up to that level. Even after development, its integration with other construction software such as quantity takeoff and estimating software, CAD tools, and budget software can be difficult since they’re made in different formats that may or may not seamlessly gel with the OSS project management software.

Rectifying emerging issues would take exorbitant costs and humungous time commitments from developer teams. This is something that is never affordable nor justifiable for companies both big and small regardless of the size of the project.

In-house teams may fail to operate effectively

Limited customization will invariably result in changing your existing construction processes to fit the free software. Lack of skilled in-house software developers to handle open-source construction software can hamper project progress—the most immediate consequence is a breakdown in communication among teams. For a project to function like a well-oiled machine, communication software needs to avail project teams to share real-time concerns with as few hiccups as possible, in order for project activities to achieve desired targets.

With open-source software, there are several kinks to work out before it becomes gainfully usable. Inexperienced team members can easily lose their way with its operability and as a result, remain incapable of working around inadequate communicative tools. Training project teams to operate OSS would eat up precious productive time and costs, something companies already on tight budgets can’t commit to. Click for more info to learn how project teams can be synced better through a project delivery method that’s been widely practiced.

Recurring maintenance costs can exceed budgets

Open-source software must be regularly maintained to support complex IT needs of a project. These costs can tantamount to huge bills over time. Where on the contrary open source was supposed to be affordable, it becomes a massive cost center in no time.

Construction owners and managers are better off onboarding paid construction management software. For the sole reason that projects are fast-paced and grow in complexity, leaving no room for errors that can easily be avoidable. Rather than improving code every now and then to suit evolving project needs, paid software comes with advanced capabilities allowing options for different tasks and helping redirect costs were most relevant.

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