The research shows that by adopting a comprehensive, single-database Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform that incorporates the latest technologies and is purpose-built for construction, contractors can overcome the challenges that have been hindering their forecasting speed and precision. Such a platform allows contractors to compile complete, accurate and timely data from all essential sources to formulate a single version of truth. Here’s a look at how a single database platform solves 4 of the most common problems in construction:
Solving Challenge #1: Identify and Respond to Potential Cost Impacts
The key to identifying cost impacts is being able to combine historic project data and timely information from across the organization to predict expenses accurately. A fully featured, construction-specific ERP system leverages a single repository of enterprise data that is shared across the organization, giving access to the same cost-related details to everyone who needs them. With data that is automatically updated—and not subject to errors or delays from fallible humans—teams can stay on top of cost variances and make immediate adjustments to keep the financial picture of each project on track.
“If you want to take job costs seriously and actually be accurate with forecasting, you have to step up into one of the premier construction software systems.”- Scott Jennings, P.E., principal of SJ Construction Consulting
Solving Challenge #2: Improve Control of Cash Flow
Chet Kuchyt, Solutions Consultant at CMiC, says use of a single database system provides two advantages. “First, it allows better reaction to current scenarios because it includes real-time data. That allows you to adjust, pivot and move money around so that you can maintain adequate cash flow,” he remarks. “Second, it enables more accurate projection of ‘what if’ scenarios. You can enter information and then see the impacts on the different areas affecting cash flow.”
Richard Tregaskes, Senior Product Manager at Faithful+Gould, a leading construction project and program management consultancy, explains the connection between unified data and optimal cash flow: “Historically, cost data has been owned by the contractor, but today, the growing trend is for project owners to take ownership of cost data. From a financial as well as an efficiency standpoint, this shift in ownership makes sound business sense.
“As projects go live, owners provide access for the contractors into the owner’s system, rather than rely on a set of costs and schedules presented by the contractor (or multiple contractors) across multiple systems,” he writes.
“By tying the schedules and the costs into a unified system, the project management office can have an overview of the cash forecasting for both actual and proposed projects on a portfolio basis.”
Solving Challenge #3: Manage Resource Allocation
Working from a single database, schedulers and project managers can forecast allocation of all resources, including manpower. This more granular approach helps them better manage the challenges of seasonality, over/ underutilization and conflicting labor demands.
“Advances in ERP and project-management solutions are helping schedulers and project managers find more reliable methods of resource management,” asserts Jeff Weiss, Chief Revenue Officer for CMiC, in a Constructech guest column. “One such example is the introduction of visual resource planning tools that proactively enable the allocation of resources—including manpower—based on skills, availability and location for greater precision in meeting construction project needs.”
Solving Challenge #4: Gain Real-Time Visibility
Real-time, project-specific data provides construction-company owners, CEOs and project managers with information they can act on. The ability to marry historical data with the most current project data improves visibility even more.
When team members can access and update all relevant data through a central control dashboard, they can use that high-level information to make forecasting decisions that are thoroughly informed. Better-informed decisions can produce better operational outcomes and have a material impact on profitability.
Ideally, a single-database platform allows key players to quickly compile polished, big-picture financial reports on how the business is performing at any given point in time. This enables them to forecast and offset cost variances, such as subcontractor delays, unexpected safety inspections, potential overtime work or rush shipments of replacement parts.
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