Breaking down barriers in construction with ERP
Posted by Chris Knight
Extensive planning is necessary in the design, pre-construction, and procurement stages of a construction project. Team members across different departments have to balance many complicated tasks, and to excel they must apply their knowledge for speedy problem-solving, react to changes on the fly, and keep up-to-date with industry trends, all while maintaining a good level of communication within their teams.
Working with so many moving parts requires strategy, organisation, and a streamlined workflow, right from the beginning of the project. Advances in technology have made this easy across industries, but construction has been slower to adopt ERP, perhaps due to the misguided belief that it is too departmental, so unification simply isn’t possible.
How ERP for construction unifies the early planning stages
1. Winning clients
ERP increases the likelihood of spotting and winning a client by managing customer relationships from the very start. Sophisticated opportunity management improves the accuracy of tracking sales performance, perfecting sales techniques, and encouraging repeat business.
2. Bidding on projects
Tracking and analysing bids through ERP creates one source of truth. Construction companies can run estimates and update or change costings, and assess the impact of those changes. By entering vendor requirements in Bid Management, part of the selection process is also automated for greater efficiency.
3. Laying plans
After winning the business, the construction project must be scheduled. Project managers can see a timeline of activity and understand what resources must be assigned, arranging for extra or expert skill as required.
How ERP for construction unifies financial monitoring
Right from the bidding process through to closeout, construction project managers must track and monitor all costs. This has special impact on the initial budgeting for a project. From permits to wages, and the cost of materials and equipment, there are multiple sources for which to track the finances, and while an Accounts department will handle the invoicing and much of the paperwork, project managers must have visibility of the numbers.
Tackling a task of that magnitude manually, through paper trails, or even with multiple systems, would be difficult, rife with error, and extremely time consuming. An ERP solution that manages budgeting and spend will allow Accounts and project managers to track one source of financial data, and update it in real-time, which means that these figures are constantly being re-calculated so all interested parties know they’re working with the same information.
How ERP for construction unifies communication
With so many parties involved in a construction project, the number of emails, phone calls and text messages flying back and forth can be overwhelming. Tracking and keeping up with seemingly never-ending changes is disruptive to workflow and causes delays and errors. Syncing up communication through cloud ERP unifies communication and improves collaboration. It means everyone is working from the same source of data, and updates are made in real-time.
Construction project managers issue regular status reports, but automated reporting means spreadsheets, news, and other relevant information can be sent out automatically. Over the lifespan of a construction project, this function could save project managers time, allowing them to spend more time on the construction site coordinating operations.
From the off, construction project managers need to operate within a streamlined workflow to stay on top of every aspect of a build. ERP software is the central location for all data, all communication, and all progress reports. This technology allows construction companies to run more successful projects and make more informed business management decisions.