5 Minute Read
March 3, 2023
People, materials, and equipment are constantly moving in different directions as you manage your construction projects. But as a contractor, you also have to deal with a mountain of data relevant to managing the business operations, ensuring construction projects are completed on time and on budget. The office, field team, engineers, project owners, subcontractors, and others need to be able to connect and collaborate in real time. To manage all these business processes, most firms opt for enterprise resource planning, better known as construction ERP software.
So how do you choose the right construction ERP? Choosing the best ERP can be difficult, and if you already have a generic ERP, you’re probably aware of some of the common pitfalls of using software not designed specifically for the construction industry. Let’s take a minute to learn what your construction ERP should include.
You want an ERP that improves ROI and the bottom line, not one that wastes time and causes headaches. Below we’ve listed 7 factors an ERP for construction should include, and how they address the challenges commonly faced by contractors during their business operations.
One of the biggest complaints about generic ERP is that it doesn’t work well for everyone who needs to use it. Executives, back office professionals, and operations users in the field may need different software functionalities and capabilities, and you need an ERP for construction that is flexible and serves the needs of each user.
An ERP for construction needs to provide a clear view into ongoing job costs. Ideally, you want to see numbers for actual, forecasted, committed, and pending costs in real time so you can stay on top of everything, contact the appropriate people, and make adjustments as needed. If your ERP software isn’t capable of this, you may end up facing a whole slew of problems.
Your billing system should be connected to the rest of your software, not something that lives off on its own. When your ERP software doesn’t include integrated billing, it can easily lead to inefficiencies, mistakes, delays in payments, and other potential problems. An integrated billing system can be automated to work directly with other construction software functions, making it a great time-saver. Plus, you won’t have to worry about someone forgetting to send a bill on time.
Speaking of inefficiencies, approval workflows without the right construction ERP can get bogged down by poor communication and time wasted looking for needed documents. Automated document approval workflows — with digital access to source documents — are a much better solution, and a key factor when searching for ERP software.
When you can’t keep track of what your vendors are doing, it’s easy to run into problems. The right construction ERP software should provide you with notifications when someone isn’t compliant so you can do something about it right away, instead of wasting precious time and cutting into your profit margins.
Writing things down on paper has a time and a place, but that place isn’t necessarily out in the field — especially if the information people are writing down is important. While much of the construction industry still relies on paper, the industry is moving toward digital document management solutions and cloud-based access and sharing capabilities. Unfortunately, many generic ERPs don’t allow for easy electronic field reporting via laptops, tablets, and other devices, even though digital field reporting should be an essential factor of your construction ERP. When the field team is connected, information can be input much more quickly without the risk of it being lost or mistakes made in re-entering information.
As we said earlier, your construction business’s many parts likely have different needs. The right ERP software should include flexible functionalities that can easily handle operations like equipment management, service management, and materials management. This type of tailored construction solution connects business operations across your organization and makes everyone's life easier.
Not all construction ERPs are equal, and it’s important that you choose the one that will best help you improve ROI and your bottom line. That’s why, at Trimble Viewpoint, we’ve spent 35 years working with construction firms to create software designed specifically for their needs. We can help you find a software solution that gives you the functionality and flexibility you’re looking for to aid all members of your team, from your head office to your crews in the field.
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