In the world of construction, efficiency and well-ordered productivity are vital components for success. It’s been well documented how valuable a reliable, flexible enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can be in enhancing the performance of business operations. In recent years, construction firms who have implemented an “ERP system for construction” have been able to accelerate their delivery timelines by up to 24%.1
In contrast, there are an equal number of stories that document failed ERP solutions that didn’t grow with a construction business or adapt to external conditions. In one study, 91% of organizations noted that they are looking for new ERP software features and functions to better integrate their back-office systems2 and 81% of US-based construction businesses have implemented an ERP software1. Of those who have implemented an ERP, 16% are either implementing these solutions for the first time or are in the process of upgrading their existing systems1. Further, 70% of decision makers have mandated modernizing their ERP as a key business priority2.
As construction companies increasingly recognize the need for digital transformation and seek technology solutions to streamline their operations, it is crucial to evaluate a construction ERP system across a range of conditions and constraints as well as the adoption and adaptation to emerging capabilities (such as business intelligence and artificial intelligence).
Here are the top 10 construction ERP features to consider before investing in your next software solution:
- Construction-Focused: Construction is a business like no other. Every project, like every project site, is unique. Every project team varies from the owner to designer/engineers and skilled trades and suppliers. Bringing a project from concept to completion requires visibility to all project data, processes and communications. Understanding and addressing the specific needs of the construction industry is critical to an effective ERP system. For construction firms, switching to a construction-specific ERP system offers purpose-built project management functionality, including features like resource allocation, scheduling, budgeting and tracking. These essential tools allow for improved project planning, better collaboration between teams, and better control over project costs and timelines.
- Seamless Integration: Integration and interoperability have never been more important than in today’s increasingly digital environment. Given that the majority of construction management solutions will need to integrate with other tools, it’s important to invest in an ERP that has an open API interface. To highlight the importance of integrations, according to a Gartner report, “44% of transactional data … housed in ERP systems … are captured from integration or external partners. An open interface ensures that there are a variety of ways to connect with other complementary technologies — some integrations that you may not have even considered until well into implementation or application. Look to solutions that support key integrations that include a variety of third-party applications, API Bundles (which help complementary software providers and third-party integrators drive innovation) and the seamless exchange of financial and project data across disparate systems.
- Scalable/flexible: Ideally, every construction organization experiences some level of growth and expansion over time. Unfortunately, some ERP systems are not equipped to easily scale to accommodate the changing needs the come with that evolution. A modern and robust ERP solution should be equipped to scale operations seamlessly, adapt to new and changing market trends, and handle increased construction project volumes. It should have the ability to customize and configure modules based on your unique and specific requirements, enabling improved alignment with your business processes.
- Mobile Accessibility: In today’s emerging digital ecosystem, it is increasingly critical to deliver a connected workforce — and specifically, to connect the field activities with office applications. Access to real-time data, models and heightened communications helps all parties drive integrated project delivery and speeds up time to make informed decisions with your team members while you are on the go. A modern ERP solution should provide mobile functionality that allows field teams and office personnel to access critical data, monitor project progress, and communicate with teams from anywhere, using a variety of devices. A mobile-friendly ERP can improve overall productivity and responsiveness and enhance your global connectivity across your organization.
- A UI/UX Emphasis: It goes without saying that the user interface/user experience is foundational to any successful ERP. From web products to mobile applications, the layout, fields and design, the UI/UX is the ‘face’ of any application—and ease of use often dictates the long-term success. An ERP should be focused on how users accomplish their tasks. Evaluate the visual design and layout, custom color schemes, etc. Look at the way field sets are organized, and how those fields are displayed on a large screen and a smartphone. Reduce the need for typing and provide clear navigation and a visual hierarchy.
- Real-Time Reporting: Construction projects most often involve multiple teams, various field sites, a number of departments, and a range of stakeholders who might require access to frequent or even real-time integrated data and reporting. Many legacy ERP systems lack modern integration capabilities, which results in data silos and non-optimized workflows. A key component of a modern ERP system is the overall centralization of your knowledge base, in other words, an integration of various systems and applications that enable real-time reporting across your entire organization. This capability will not only improve further decision-making, but it will enhance team collaboration.
- Automated Regulatory Processes: No matter what state or country your organization operates in, it will be subject to various regulatory requirements and compliance standards. Failing to meet these regulatory obligations can result in multiple penalties, extensive legal issues, and damage to your firm’s reputation. A modern ERP system should help you stay on top of your compliances by automating regulatory processes, maintaining audit trails, and generating all necessary reports required. In addition, these systems often include risk management capabilities to identify and mitigate potential risk.
- CRM Integration: Building strong relationships with customers and maintaining customer satisfaction is a key component to driving growth. A construction ERP system with integrated customer relationship management (CRM) functionality can help you keep track of all your vital customer activities and communications, track any leads and opportunities, and provide overall better customer intelligence. By switching to an ERP with CRM capabilities, you can centralize your customer data, improve communication, and enhance customer satisfaction, ultimately driving acquisition.
- Customer support: Your ERP provider should be your strategic partner, offering you dedicated customer-facing teams such as customer success, account managers and specialists. Know your provider’s track record. Talk to existing customers about the timeliness of ongoing support and product updates. Along with readily available account managers, customer success managers and product analysts, ask about knowledge portal, in-person and remote training and even virtual chatbot, which provides in-product support and training resources.
- Continuous Improvement: The rapid advancements ongoing in construction technology require a continuous improvement mindset and a commitment to innovation. A focused research and development component ensures your ERP solution remains at the forefront of technological advancements in the construction industry.
CMiC: A Robust Suite of Construction Solutions and Capabilities Designed to Optimize Key Operational Processes
CMiC is the leading provider of unified, integrated, and innovative software solutions which are purpose-built for the construction industry. Their suite of solutions is designed to drive integrated project delivery, optimize workflows and heighten office-to-field communications.
CMiC Financials helps construction firms manage accounting, human capital and payroll, inventory, and equipment — effortlessly. Through its cutting-edge, industry-specific functionality with proven workflows, CMiC Accounting delivers total visibility of real-time data in complex environments with shifting cost structures — equating to persistently reliable financial reports and projections, from the corporate office to field operations.
Built to manage construction projects, with “layered-in” business intelligence software to help make data-driven decisions in real-time, key applications include Accounting, Human Capital Management and Payroll, Opportunity Management & Resource Planning, as well as Equipment & Inventory Management.
CMiC Project Management
CMiC Project Management software enables teams to collaborate with project stakeholders, control project changes, manage subcontractor tasks, stay on top of material suppliers and simplify the bid process. Key applications in this category include Bidding & Procurement, Construction Documents, Quality & Safety and Project Controls.
From a business benefit perspective, this suite of solutions enables construction firms to complete complex projects with tightly managed costs and timeframes. In addition, managers can track labor productivity, manage labor budgets and payroll, and seamlessly maintain the schedule of field teams.
What sets CMiC’s robust applications apart from the others include:
- Industry-leading technology with an open API interface
- Best-in-class user experience and user interface
- Software development that is based on a single code set and built in-house
- A deeper feature set with seamless movement of data between applications
- Brandon Gaille – Small Business and Marketing Advice. 25 ERP Construction Industry Statistics, Trends & Analysis.
- Gartner. 2023. Postmodern ERP.
- Software Advice. 2021. 4 Construction Industry Statistics Every Construction Manager Should Know.