Demolition at a construction site 1200x800
Demolition at a construction site 1200x800

ERP Solutions to Common Workflow Challenges: Job Costing

This post is part of the CMiC blog series “ERP Solutions to Common Workflow Challenges.” Check out the previous post in this series, where we look at how to streamline the change order process.

Construction firms can be hesitant to modify their workflows. Because their procedures and processes have been successful in the past, they see no reason to make changes. But, as times change and technology advances, old strategies for construction management may not be as effective.

Job costing is a perfect example. While software technology has grown by leaps and bounds in the past decade, many firms are still relying on word processing and spreadsheet applications. They manually input vendor information into spreadsheets, compile project data in a word processing document and email these documents around the office for approvals and revisions. Unfortunately, firms using this outdated workflow may not realize how much this system is costing them in productivity, efficiency and human error.

Let’s explore some of the so-called “tried-and-true” job costing methods that are in serious need of upgrades.

Submitting Prequalification Data

Before the bid process can begin, firms need to sort out potential subcontractors and vendors. It’s extremely important to hire the right vendors, and there are a variety of crucial variables to consider. Using a spreadsheet program to track and submit vendor data is not only time-consuming, but it also opens the door to mistakes.

With advanced ERP software, vendor applications are received electronically and all prequalification data is immediately saved to a central database. Vendor data is stored with other project data, so that key players and stakeholders can access relevant information anywhere, anytime. This eliminates the need to search through email chains for attached documents and prevents the problems that come with document version control.

Tracking & Approving the Project Scope

The project scope must be detailed and precise. On top of that, it must be created quickly and streamlined enough to be easily approved by numerous project collaborators. Every round of emails and approvals can create bottlenecks, especially when the project scope, exclusions and inclusions are housed in a word processing document.     

On the other hand, with ERP software, scope data is intelligently extracted from the subcontract. There’s no need to key specific information into a separate document. Relevant information can be sent with the click of a button, all within the ERP system. Not to mention, the scope can be revised by project collaborators in real-time, while past versions are kept on record.

With CMiC’s platform in particular, approvals can be gathered quickly using the workflow engine, which pushes important data to relevant decision makers. It uses automatically generated emails and alerts to get all the necessary approvals in the shortest amount of time.

Creating the Subcontract

Once the bids have been negotiated, analyzed and awarded, it’s time to get to work on the subcontract. Unfortunately, firms working with older systems may spend time manually copying line items and scheduling data from the bid package to the subcontract.

Construction ERP systems, on the other hand, intelligently store project data from phase to phase. This eliminates the need to retype line items into the subcontract because all the relevant data comes automatically from the bid package. Every time you make a change, that change will be automatically reflected in relevant documents. For example, when you create a subcontract in the CMiC platform, you’ve already impacted your budget.

On top of that, ERP systems can track and validate certain values to cut down on human error. This means, for example, the system can alert workers immediately when they enter an invalid vendor code.

The Value of ERP

Not only can ERP software streamline job costing, bid approvals and subcontract creation, but it also supports operations across the entire enterprise. Here are a few of the overarching advantages of ERP:

1. In-Browser Login

Throughout the job costing lifecycle, different project actors will need access to important data. In traditional systems, key players would need to access the firm’s local network each time using a remote desktop login, Citrix connection or other workarounds.

Full-scale ERP systems shouldn’t force you to be connected to an internal network. Every project actor or stakeholder with security clearance can be given quick access to project data in their browser. No apps, complicated logins or local connections required.

  • Simple browser login

  • Secure access

  • Cuts down data-sharing time

2. Detailed Document Audits

In an enterprise system, documents organically move from phase to phase while gaining approvals and revisions along the way. Within the document’s detail section, stakeholders can easily look through the document changes to double check information.

  • Always-available audit history

  • Clear evidence in case of legal disputes  

3. Integration with Third-party Estimating Solution

CMiC is built to seamlessly incorporate third-party estimating systems. Customers retain their estimating procedure, and the CMiC platform intelligently imports estimate information for the job structure and subcontract creation.

  • Keep your estimating system

  • No re-keying

To learn more about the ways that ERP can eliminate workflow bottlenecks, check out ERP Solutions to Common Workflow Challenges: Change Orders.