Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software holds a company together from a data access point of view. Today’s digitally-enabled companies need ways to quickly and effectively get relevant information into the hands of the right people at a moment’s notice, while storing that content in a secure, central location and ensuring data accuracy and integrity.

That is a demanding list of requirements, and achieving those goals becomes even more daunting when you’re operating in a complex space such as the construction industry. In these cases, nothing less than a purpose-built software suite will deliver the performance companies are looking for. Adding a construction ERP solution can mean replacing a host of inefficient legacy systems and thoroughly revamping a contractor’s workflows.

Why Use Purpose-Built Construction ERP Software?

ERP software of all kinds is in use across all industries, bringing with it a long list of specific functionality and capabilities. With recognizable software providers such as SAP and Oracle taking up a lot of attention in the general ERP space, you may think these are the only options when it comes to organizing your data.

The alternative is to employ an ERP system that has been designed from the ground up to suit construction needs. This means considerations such as subcontractor management and integration with drawing management solutions have been made, and you’ll be able to manage everything from financials to human capital in a project-based environment.

While recognizable software providers have the attention of the general ERP space, there is an alternative ERP system that has been designed from the ground up to suit construction needs.

From meeting record-keeping requirements for compliance purposes to effectively sharing planning documents between all stakeholders, from clients and architects to personnel in the field, there are many construction-specific needs and challenges facing contractors. If they choose ERP software designed to solve these problems, they get a head start on process improvements.

How Can Companies Get the Most Value from Construction ERP Software?

As a contractor scales up operations, with numerous job sites potentially active simultaneously and a need to make accurate information available regarding each of these projects, a construction ERP platform can keep the situation from becoming untenable. Such a software tool can help with the following areas, delivering value by preventing employees from expending unnecessary time and effort and making everyday operations quicker and less prone to human error.

Financials and Accounting

When all financial and accounting functions – from both accounts payable and accounts receivable – are united through a single platform, one connected with other departments’ software tools, contractors can improve their data visibility and resulting decision-making ability by leaps and bounds. Setting and adjusting project budgets, managing payroll, creating accurate forecasts – all of these are features of construction ERP financial modules.

Enterprise Planning

One of the benefits of using an ERP platform that connects real-time data from multiple departments is that personnel can use this rich content to create accurate forecasts and plan allocations of both human resources and equipment. All of a contractor’s past data can fuel future projections and improve decision-making.

Accurate past data can fuel future projections and improve decision-making.

Project Controls

Reaction time is critical when managing a complex construction project. Issues with cost or schedule overruns demand immediate responses to minimize losses and keep operations on track. When project management features incorporate real-time data, office personnel can monitor every change actively. New document versions and updates from all stakeholders – internal and external – give staff the information they need to make intelligent adjustments.

Reaction time is critical when managing a complex construction project.

Human Capital and Payroll Management

HCM is one of the areas where construction-specific ERP software differs most sharply from general tools meant for all industries. From safety and compliance certification management for on-site personnel to the simple act of managing payroll on a project basis, with hiring cycles that go along with the schedules of new jobs, there are tasks that are natural and common in construction but out of step with more general industry operations. When dealing with challenges such as labor shortages, it pays for construction office personnel to have access to a purpose-built software tool that connects to other modules such as financials and asset management.

Asset Management

From permanent assets such as company facilities to the equipment needed to complete projects, contractors have no shortage of items to manage and track. A purpose-built construction ERP module dedicated to organizing these assets can display the location and status of inventory in real time, along with maintenance and repair information. By integrating this module with others such as financials, personnel can more effectively oversee all their equipment needs.

Enterprise Content Management

Content volume can be a problem for contractors. Undertaking a construction project means accumulating information, potentially for years. When stakeholders can store their information in a centralized platform for high visibility and easy access, they gain the ability to call up any piece of data on any project, active or completed. An effective enterprise content module should not just integrate with the rest of the construction ERP suite, but other common industry applications such as Kofax, DocuSign, PlanGrid, BlueBeam, Autodesk and Oracle/Textura.

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Why Should Contractors Replace Legacy Systems Immediately?

While general ERP systems not designed for the construction industry may not deliver the above capabilities as effectively as purpose-built solutions, there is an even less helpful option: Contractors can stick with webs of unconnected, offline legacy systems. Using spreadsheets and other such tools leaves companies unable to get true real-time data from one department to another, and increases the chance of important data becoming lost due to outdated file versions or disorganized storage.