What happens in your organization when a site manager runs into an unexpected condition that wasn’t accounted for in the plan? Perhaps the schematics for existing piping were wrong and the site manager is now contending with an old sewer line where the crew is digging for the foundation. Does your team have the tools needed to quickly communicate the project change, assess options for adjustments and make a decision before work gets too far off schedule? If you’re like most organizations and lack a dedicated construction ERP, you probably don’t.
We’ve been exploring the signs indicating that builders need to make an ERP upgrade, and the example we just discussed highlights our theme for part four in the series: What happens when your existing construction project management systems can’t offer you complete visibility?
Unpacking Visibility Problems in Action
Let’s look back at the scenario we presented in the introduction. When finding unexpected piping at the job site, builders will generally have to complete a few processes before moving forward:
- Double check site surveys to identify if there was a misinterpretation during planning.
- Connect with the relevant land managers or municipal officials to identify if they know anything about the piping.
- Perform tests to identify what the pipes are actually being used for, assuming there isn’t a clear answer during the first two steps.
- Analyze blueprints and project plans to see if there’s a simple work-around.
- Connect with other project stakeholders to identify and enact the next steps based on this background work.
All of these tasks require communication with some combination of internal and external project stakeholders. When you’re dealing with either paper-based records or isolated digital designs, you then have to send materials back and forth and move between locations based on where information is stored. Creating a central database for project information can minimize the paperwork that goes into solving this type of problem.
According to Construction Executive, the complex nature of construction projects creates an environment where easy data access and sharing is critical. A shared data environment allows those involved in an initiative to update components of the system and have that data automatically be passed on across the team.
For example, the news source explained that architects and engineers creating 3D models of a building can upload these schematics into a central database, allowing site and project managers to easily access that data in the field. This gives the people involved in putting plans into action all of the background materials that went into the project.
Centralizing information throughout the project simplifies collaboration and ensures everybody involved can easily assess performance and status updates, the report explained. This type of visibility is critical in construction project management, and ERP systems can make it possible.
How ERP Platforms Create Transparency
In its simplest form, an ERP setup will take information that is owned by different parts of the business and make it accessible through a single connected database. This is done without creating excess complexity, because those separate solutions operate as dedicated modules within the platform.
For example, the CMiC ERP solution features a suite of ‘native’ field applications that enable a variety of key functions that site and project managers need when away from the office. These include:
- Change management tools to ensure information accuracy and make it easier to manage schedules and costs as projects go through disruption.
- Site management systems that let users enter key information in real time, giving executives immediate visibility into what is happening in the field.
- Vendor relationship management capabilities that integrate details on subcontractor activities to stabilize the project environment.
- Communication tools that track updates and notifications from stakeholders across the team.
This represents a few of the key capabilities in our field management platform, but they highlight the ways an ERP solution can drive visibility. Managers in the field use these tools to connect to the office and vice versa. CMiC also offers connectivity through a full mobile-enabled suite, taking convenience and connectivity to another level. If your ERP can’t give you the visibility you need, contact us and we can offer more details on how our solution can help. If you’re still not quite sure it’s time for an upgrade, then be on the lookout for the final part of the series, where we’ll discuss the issue of ineffective change management.