An enterprise technology deployment can only reach its full potential if decision-makers have a clear game plan in mind, and this is especially true for a core software component such as ERP. In the construction sector, these solutions represent a central resource for financial strategy management, and leaders across the industry rely on these tools to inform their choices in every area of their operations, from subcontractor management to job-site supervision. Simply put, a construction firm is directionless without a strong ERP system to guide its decision-making processes.
But while ERP systems are present in nearly every enterprise arsenal, many organizations deploy their solutions blindly, failing to account for the unique demands of their industries. That's why companies in the construction sector need to select ERP systems that account for the distinct parameters of their operations, and create a set of objectives that accompany the deployments from the outset. Leaders should consider the following three decision points as they select and implement ERP solutions that best fit their respective needs as competitors in the construction arena:
1. Supply chain insights: The modern construction company has an operational profile that extends far beyond its immediate capabilities, meaning that an ERP solution must encompass the nuclear financial footprint, as well as the extent of the entire supply chain. Executive leaders at the enterprise level need insights that inform decision-making at every level, from materials suppliers to equipment vendors and the subcontractors that make close job-site collaboration possible. All of these moving parts must be visible from a centralized financial platform that all C-Level leaders can use.
"You should understand the business drivers for ERP in your own organization and include these requirements in your RFP," noted Mary Shacklett of Transworld Data in a recent piece for TechTarget. "In some cases, companies just want centralized finance and HR systems. In other cases, companies are in unique industry verticals, so they want ERP systems that are tailored to these verticals."
2. Mobile functionality: Today's business leaders aren't limited to the boardroom when making key decisions. In fact, they're expected by employees and stakeholders to constantly be on the move from one job site to the next, all while having access to ERP data to inform choices no matter where they may be. This means that any ERP solution must be fully mobilized, with all features readily available on tablets and smartphones. When it comes time to make a pivotal decision on the go, executives with mobile ERP functionality will be prepared to take the best possible course of action.
"An increasingly connected world leads to increasing speed of business," explained Adam Cheatham, an ERP consultant for Panorama Consulting, according to Enterprise Apps Today. "You can interact in real time with people from around the world. We are seeing a push for having a single source of truth and being able to interconnect it throughout the globe. It's no different than any other business endeavor. If you have a strong strategy and can refer back to it, it is going to help the entire company in implementing the strategy."
3. BIM integration: While not every organization has made the full transition to a BIM design and planning environment, the migration stages are well underway in the vast majority of construction firms. This is because architects, engineers and other third-party collaborators have discovered the power of computer-aided design in their own operations, and internal strategists are beginning to realize that these tools can prove invaluable for on-site strategy. With fully integrated ERP modules to support BIM, a company has a huge advantage from a pricing and scheduling perspective.