How to use ERP project management tools to improve efficiency

Project management is built in to many of today’s ERP systems. Stand-alone project management tools like Microsoft Project still have a use, but many of us can use our familiar ERP software with all the data integrated between the project manager and other business functions.   

Let’s look at some of the ways we can use our ERP project management application:

Complex multi project programs

An engineer-to-order business would find great value here. You might have a contract to build an instrument for a satellite. There are many subcontractors and some are developing entirely new technologies as part of the project. Components of the instrument come from several suppliers. The instrument must be kept within mass and volume limits to fit the satellite, which means tracking the development of other instruments to launch at the same time. All phases of the program need to be kept within the time and cost budget from the start of the project until delivery.

Guide: 70 useful features to look for in your next ERP

Construction ERP

Imagine you are a general contractor erecting a large hotel. Your project levels include pre-construction, groundwork, erection, and perhaps tenant improvements. Each of the specialty subcontractors has their own sub projects too. Design and completion of each phase has to be controlled to ensure the project is on schedule and budget and to ensure each subcontractor coordinates with other specialties. By using project management within the ERP, the contractor posts costs and billings to the general ledger and, at the same time, to the project and each phase ensuring that the data is consistent and saving the need to enter data into a separate database.

Use the tool in your own way

ERP project management does not require long and complex work to be useful. Project management can also be a way to collect common work for combined evaluation and reporting. One might link production jobs for a single customer through the use of project management tools. Production jobs for the first builds and releases of a new product might be linked as parts of a common project. Time and expenses that arise in separate departments or functions can be charged to a common project allowing the department to be analyzed with no change in posting expenses while the project analysis can go on without any requirement for double posting.

Developers add new features and functionality to ERP systems all the time. In a way, ERP is a Swiss Army Knife kind of tool. Take a good look at your ERP project manager and see how much value it provides to your business.

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Tom Miller

About the author…

Tom completed implementations of Epicor, SAP, QAD, and Micro MRP. He works as a logistics and supply chain manager and he always looks for processes to improve. He lives near San Francisco Bay in California and can be found on the water in his kayak or on the road riding his motorcycle. Contact Tom at customerteam@erpfocus.com.

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Tom Miller