The maturation of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems has historically focused on the manufacturing space where the platforms were developed to take orders and procure parts alongside managing production and controlling inventory, financials, and supply chains. If you’re a construction company, though, your focus likely centers on controlling scopes of work on jobs and projects.
Predictive analytics, mobility, cloud, and business intelligence (BI) pay big dividends
You need systems that are project and asset-centric that perform well when estimating work, managing subs and controlling risk, project costs, and field services. Unfortunately, these varied requirements have resulted in many construction firms buying disparate systems from third parties resulting in inadequate data sharing and uneven usage of automation across the enterprise.
Smart construction companies are using integrated, data-driven processes that offer new efficiencies, mitigate risks, and improve profitability. To be data-driven – a goal all construction companies should share – likely means having an integrated application suite inclusive of ERP, field service, project management, and support for managing contracts and contractors.
The data available today makes this one of the most exciting times to be in business. While the term “disruptive” may be slightly overused, understanding your data and using it in a predictive way can, in fact, tell you where your best business opportunity is. It can help you optimize your project delivery and find new service-oriented revenue streams. Your data can be used in predictive models that exploit patterns found in the data that identify risks and opportunities. If your aim is to improve your business model, it is always a good idea to start with your data.
Whether you use a combination of different solutions that have been packaged together into a single solution, or deploy a single integrated solution, it is important to bring all data and operations together in a unified way. The ideal solutions are provided by a single partner and there are few software solutions that connect to a single database.
Your data will generated from a number of software modules or solutions that are commonly required by many construction companies. Construction companies need tools to help them simplify, shorten the time-frames, and improve the accuracy of estimating complex projects. They need project management to manage workflows and change orders, streamline processes, and ensure projects complete profitably and on time. To capture remote labor, equipment, and production costs, they need project management, fully integrated with accounting. Job costing is also central to staying profitable and getting timely, accurate information that measures performance and progress on given projects.
Many construction companies find that managing cost and revenue of resources is one of the best ways for them to avoid surprises, while minimizing downtime and maximizing availability. The right solution, in this regard, can help them not only track and manage resources, but predict costs and revenue throughout their life-cycles. Other ubiquitous needs of construction companies include document control, financial planning, work order management, and service management.
With all these important construction-specific functionalities as a backdrop, the industry has seen few areas of investment that have paid more dividends than mobility, BI, and moving to the cloud.
Mobility: This means your team members work where they want, when they want, and with full and secure access to the information they need to get the job done. Mobility improves project delivery and outcomes by allowing your workforce to be engaged regardless of location or time of day. Using their smart phones and iPads, construction employees can quickly capture and share field data. Plus, securely sharing systems information with internal and external resources helps employees quickly resolve issues.
Business Intelligence: The data generated from business applications and complex construction projects can be used in many ways. Capturing, accessing, and converting this data into business intelligence for informed decision making is one of the quickest ways to secure a competitive advantage. Dynamics role-based workspaces can be ideal to track pending change orders and for compliance tracking subs. Whether accessing preconfigured dashboards or drill-down reports, you can have quick visibility of where your construction project is now and where it is going.
Cloud Computing: Cloud ERP overcomes many of the risks and challenges commonly associated with on-premise applications. Solutions in the cloud are simpler, secure, and offer a scalable environment that is flexible to grow alongside your company. Deployments are generally quicker, and the economics can be highly advantageous. You don’t have to manage licenses, servers, networking equipment, data storage, and the like. The small IT footprint of the cloud allows the industry to get out of IT and back into construction.
The opportunity for construction companies to materially improve business performance by taking an integrated data-driven technology approach is greater than at any time in the past. If you’re looking for a solution or partner to help your company, focus your attention on companies that have worked extensively with companies like yours and have an intelligence-driven strategy.
This article is sponsored by Sopris Systems.