As Industry 4.0 conquers an ever-increasing number of fields, organizations across different sectors harness professional software not only to stay precariously afloat but to thrive and go big time. The construction industry moves in the wake of the global digitalization trend, with the most high-tech-savvy companies in the domain making use of enterprise apps, AI, or IoT solutions. Such technologies are making their tentative entrance to the realm so far, while an ERP system construction industry players use has become one of the staples of enterprises’ workflow today.
In this article, we will look at the benefits of employing an ERP in construction, focus on the must-have features of such solutions, and discuss the roadmap for creating this type of product. But first, let's get down to the basics.
Enterprise Resource Planning Solutions: Facts and Figures
In our digitally-driven age, organizations aspiring to enter the major league of business in their industry need strategic data insights, in-depth customer analysis, and other data processing capabilities that can be provided only by professional software. This IT niche yields almost 50% of total software revenues and rests on four pillars: Business Intelligence (BI) solutions, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Supply Chain Management (SCM), and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).
The ERP is considered to be a vital tool that streamlines and facilitates the pipeline of a modern company. It covers all aspects of an organization’s day-to-day activities and enables employees to manage accounting, procurement, risks, supply chain, inventory, budget, human resources, etc.
ERP systems integrate information about these shop floor processes allowing for a free flow of data between departments across the organization and serving as a single source of the truth and the ultimate reference point.
Because of the indispensability of such software for the optimal functioning of a company, the global market for ERP solutions is on a steady growth of 4.78% annually. Revenues in the niche are expected to reach almost $50 billion by the end of this year, with over half of this sum generated in the USA. ERP software for construction industry experiences an even greater boom sharing in the astounding CAGR of 17% and the market size of over $6.5 billion construction management software is likely to see by 2028.
Calculating players in the sector wouldn’t invest so heavily in such products if they didn’t anticipate weighty boons of adopting high-end professional solutions of this kind.
Benefits of ERP for Construction Companies
What do construction firms get by employing an ERP for their workflow management?
- Complete visibility. The specific nature of the construction business requires visiting building sites, cooperating with numerous third parties (subcontractors, production partners, etc.), and alignment of work between various departments. ERP enables stakeholders to have all necessary information from the shared database at their fingertips 24/7, wherever they are.
- Cross-department collaboration. Having a robust ERP for construction in place, you can not only exchange relevant data but coordinate the operation of all parts of your organization. Due to the specialized tools such systems have, it is possible to create and maintain a collaborative environment that covers both office and on-site venues.
- Informed decision-making. Raw data by itself is of little use unless you can process it. A custom ERP for construction industry can be equipped with proper business intelligence and data analytics tools. They will enable you to drill into the numbers and turn them into powerful insights for further application in strategic planning and decision-making.
- Advanced risk management. Being able to spot existing trends and analyze current difficulties with your ERP, you can forestall potential pitfalls and mitigate risks that abound in this highly volatile domain.
- Enhanced project management. ERP is a second-to-none instrument for controlling each stage of a construction project, starting from ordering materials through scheduling resources and allocating budget and equipment down implementation. It is possible due to the transparency of all operations and the availability of crucial data an ERP provides.
- Broad integration opportunities. As often as not, companies in the field rely on a collection of disparate solutions leveraged for completing diverse professional tasks. By launching an ERP, a construction organization can bring all of them under one roof and create a single platform for handling workflow and automating a considerable share of shop floor activities.
To enjoy all these perks to the full extent, you should know what functionalities to include in the ERP you are going to onboard.
10 Must-Have Features of an ERP for Construction Industry
Naturally, each enterprise in the building industry has its specifics and, therefore, unique needs and requirements for the professional software to employ. However, any ERP in this realm can’t do without the following modules and characteristics.
This is the bread-and-butter capability of professional solutions in the field since projects there are rather complex and even intricate, involving numerous stakeholders and huge budgets. The module should enable managers to create plans, assign tasks and roles, control project costs, distribute resources, and monitor the project's progress in real-time.
Construction projects (especially large-scale ones) consume enormous quantities of resources. A specialized module of an ERP should provide efficient allocation and scheduling of labor, equipment, and materials. The overarching goal of this element is to guarantee the availability and distribution of resources to meet a project's budget and timeline constraints.
It is closely aligned with the above-mentioned module because it is called to ensure all resources are on hand when needed. This module’s tasks cover tracking inventory levels, managing stock, and timely generating purchase orders. Besides, contractors should also control the appropriate usage of materials to minimize wastage.
No one likes running into unexpected expenses and having to pay more than it was anticipated. Given the immense cost of construction projects, contractors must be able to accurately estimate the labor, equipment, and materials the project will require. An ERP system should enable them to perform preliminary calculations taking into account resource availability, budget limitations, and project scope.
Even if you did your best to estimate the future project costs down to a penny, you would still have to track expenditures, generate invoices, and manage budgets. This module of an ERP system should allow the duty holders not only to monitor financial aspects in real-time but also enable financial analysis and reports via integration with accounting tools.
Without this feature, construction organizations will be snowed under and get lost among tons of contracts, specifications, regulations, drawings, and other documents. The ERP should provide a centralized storage location for all of them and enable sharing of any document with stakeholders who need them.
Reporting and analytics
A customizable module with such capabilities lets the personnel analyze project data and generate reports that meet their unique needs. When properly leveraged, this module provides real-time project monitoring and promotes insight-driven decision-making.
Data backup and security
All project and client data that enters the ERP should be leakage-proof to safeguard its inviolability against unauthorized penetration attempts. Plus, it should be backed up regularly to guarantee its complete restoration in case of a disaster or system failure.
Today, even the most comprehensive professional products never function as standalone solutions, and ERP is no exception. It should play well with other software (like accounting, design, etc.) and enable users to import data from them swiftly and safely.
Employees of construction firms shuttle a lot between their central offices, various branches, and building sites. Being on duty, they should always have access to the ERP from their mobile devices and operate project data stored in it on the go. That is why mobile friendliness is one of the top requirements for ERPs in the industry.
Now that you are aware of what to aim for, you can get down to building a construction ERP solution hammer and tongs.
A Roadmap of Development of an ERP for Construction Company
As a seasoned expert in developing construction software, Requestum has a well-thought-out and time-tested strategy for building such solutions.
Step 1 - Analysis and planning
Commence by crystallizing your project goals and objectives. Next, carry out an exhaustive review of the construction company's existing business operations, spanning finance, procurement, project management, human resources, and any other crucial areas. It's essential to pinpoint areas of struggle, inefficiencies, and opportunities for improvement.
Once this analysis is complete, define the breadth and depth of the ERP system and its modules to perfectly fit your needs. Finally, construct a comprehensive project plan, outlining precise timelines, adept resource allocation, and a well-defined budget to ensure seamless ERP implementation.
Step 2 - Requirements gathering
Initiate active engagement with key stakeholders, which includes management, employees, and end-users, to discern their unique needs and expectations from the construction ERP system. Create comprehensive documentation of both functional and non-functional requirements, encompassing factors like integration with pre-existing systems, advanced reporting capabilities, scalability, and stringent security measures. Subsequently, arrange these requirements in order of priority, considering their significance and practical feasibility.
Step 3 - System design
Sketch the grand architecture of your ERP system, encapsulating elements such as the database structure, an intuitive user interface, and crucial integration points. Clearly delineate the modules and their corresponding functionalities, which may encompass areas like finance and accounting, procurement, project management, resource allocation, scheduling, document management, and incisive reporting. Lastly, breathe life into your design by creating illustrative wireframes or prototypes, serving as a tangible representation of the user interface and workflow.
Step 4 - Development
Construct your ERP system, meticulously adhering to the design specifications. Assiduously implement the different modules, guaranteeing they harmonize seamlessly. Tailor the system to the specific needs of the construction company through precise configurations. Above all, make certain to conduct regular testing and uphold stringent quality assurance measures, allowing you to identify and rectify any bugs or issues promptly, ensuring the system's robustness and reliability.
Step 5 - Data migration
Strategically plan and execute the seamless transition of data from existing systems to your new, bespoke ERP system. Undertake a meticulous data cleansing and validation process to guarantee accuracy and maintain the integrity of your valuable information. Lastly, formulate sophisticated strategies for data mapping, transformation, and validation to ensure your data is organized and utilized most effectively within your new system.
Step 6 - Training and user adoption
Host a series of in-depth training sessions to acclimate employees and end-users to the ERP system's operation, empowering them with the knowledge they need to leverage its full potential. Furnish continual support and assistance, especially during the pivotal transition phase, to mitigate any challenges faced. Above all, foster an environment that encourages user feedback, turning each interaction into an opportunity for improvement and refinement of the system.
Step 7 - Deployment and go-live
This phase marks the official commencement of the new ERP system. After meticulous testing, refining, and data migration, the system is deployed across the organization. The go-live process should be carefully planned to minimize disruption. It often involves a phased approach, where the system is gradually launched in different parts of the organization or by module. During this stage, it's crucial to have a responsive support team ready to address any technical issues or user questions, ensuring a smooth transition from the old processes to the new system.
Step 8 - Maintenance and continuous improvement
Post-deployment, the ERP system enters its maintenance phase. Here, the system is closely monitored to detect and promptly resolve any issues or bugs that may have slipped through previous testing stages. Regular updates are made to the system to keep it current with evolving business needs and technological advancements.
Additionally, this phase involves continually seeking and integrating user feedback to refine the system and improve its functionality and user experience. This ongoing process of refinement contributes to the system's resilience and adaptability, ensuring it continues to serve the organization effectively in the long run.
Modern construction firms which face increasing competition and multiple administrative tasks can survive and prosper only if they onboard state-of-the-art technologies. ERP software systems are powerful digital instruments that allow players in the sector to step up the efficiency of their pipeline. Such solutions can usher in some boons only if their quality and range of features are up to the mark.
Construction ERP software development is a tough row to hoe, so it should be entrusted to a qualified vendor with expertise in the niche. Vetted mavens of our company possess the necessary skills and experience to create a high-end bespoke construction ERP that will impress you with its seamless functioning. Contact us to take your workflow to a new level.