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ERP in effective construction project management

Posted by  Chris Knight

If you are managing a construction project or have experience in a similar field, you will be all too familiar with how challenging, time-consuming, and incredibly stressful this role can be.

The list of project manager’s responsibilities is exhausting:

  • Compiling and monitoring budgets throughout the project
  • Supervising work timetables
  • Overseeing personnel onsite
  • Tracking all project activities including subcontractor management
  • Monitoring costs and revenues
  • Plus any ongoing and ad-hoc decision-making duties

… That’s all whilst providing the client with work/budget related updates throughout the project life cycle.

However, by implementing a purpose-built ERP solution, project managers can automate some of these duties, helping relieve the pressure and free up valuable time to focus on important strategic decisions and the overall running of the project.

Communication

There are often several different teams and subcontractors involved in a construction project, many of whom have never worked together before. Communication is therefore crucial to ensure everyone is working to the same up-to-date agenda.

By implementing ERP,  anyone - whether they’re on site or office-based - will have access to the same source of real-time financial and operational data. And with everyone using the same system, there will be no risk of misinterpreting unfamiliar reporting formats resulting in potentially costly confusion.

Likewise, having all this project intelligence in one location will provide project managers with a much more accurate picture of how the project is progressing and highlight any areas for concern that may require additional attention to ensure completion is on track and on budget.

Procurement

It is vital for construction project managers to have access to a comprehensive inventory of materials. Having to take a breather during a project to replenish materials is likely to have a knock-on effect, setting back other stages of the project.

It’s also important for project managers to have access to all possible suppliers and their pricing systems to ensure they are getting high-quality but cost-effective materials.

A cloud-based project management solution would enable project managers to create a full, interactive list of supplies, material and equipment involved in a project. It also provides a platform for prospective vendors and suppliers to upload their bids or quotes when it comes to buying in new supplies.

Contingency plan

Although many project managers will reluctantly admit to a ‘we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it’ approach, ERP with built in Risk Management means potential risks are identified and analysed at the beginning of a project and can be revisited if the risk becomes a reality.

An effective contingency plan must be integrated into the overall project schedule, regularly reviewed and clearly communicated with all involved as the project develops.

With a cloud-based ERP, you’ll have constant access to in-depth, real-time data from all areas of the project right at your fingertips. Therefore, should the decision maker(s) overseeing the project need to react quickly to a sudden change of plan or unforeseen difficulty, they will be in the best possible position to do so.

Project closeout

Clients will remember your project not for how it started, but rather how it finished, so ensuring a smooth and efficient closeout process is key in securing repeat business and client referrals.

Trying to collate information and documents from various parties, all of whom use different softwares and reporting styles is a long and laborious task. Plus, any bottlenecks, for example outstanding paperwork, will delay closeout and affect the project’s profitability.

Having to collect, store and analyse all management information in one central platform throughout the course of the project will dramatically reduce the time spent gathering the intelligence and reporting needed to write up a closing statement.

Tailor-made construction project management software

In the construction industry, any mistake no matter how minor, could seriously compromise your project and threaten the future of your business. Tailor-made ERP offers the support system needed to maximise efficiency, profitability, and ensure market-leading performance throughout the life-cycle of a project; vital for staying ahead of the competition.

Chris Knight

Chris has worked in the Construction and House Building sectors for over 20 years and has developed a broad range of knowledge and experience during this time.  He has managed large scale I.T. implementation projects as well as business change projects on behalf of the board.

The last 10 years were spent at a major ERP provider working in a range of roles from managing the professional services consultancy team, product manager before moving to the Sales team as Pre-sales Consultant.

His current role is Senior Solution Consultant for Unit4 Business World focusing on the commercial space for Construction and Professional Service sectors.

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