What to expect when you implement a new construction ERP

Typical management expectations associated with construction ERP systems range from “so what”, to “wow, this is certainly going to be a lot different.” However, as a practical matter, when considering the technical side alone, implementing a construction-specific ERP is not much different from implementing any other ERP, although from then on, things become atypical quite quickly.

As a direct systems comparison. construction versus ‘vanilla’ ERP designs tend to behave differently in two critical ways. The first relates to project accounting as the preeminent financial mechanism; and the other regards holistic acceptance of “project management” processes as the guiding and subjective operational framework whenever a user deals with an internal/external resource.

These more esoteric characteristics also harbor discrete areas of interest, such as an ability to manage equipment and project labor elements simultaneously, and in real-time; and/or the direct integration and calculation of union costs throughout an entire project schedule. Consequently, construction ERP requires an alternative recognition of how things work end-to-end, and as a result, this impact tends to change one’s expectation matrix considerably.

That said, then, what should a user prepare for when shifting to a construction ERP?

Functionalities to expect in a construction ERP

To start, it’s fairly important to understand just what elements are typically included in these platforms to give you a sense of what’s likely to come at you.

Recommended reading: implement your construction ERP successfully with our 11 step guide to implementation success.

Integrated elements associated with construction ERP platforms typically encompass the following:

  • Administrative project management: documentary and workflow papers that support an entire project infrastructure, in addition to the management, and indexing and storage of all RFIs, RFPs, drawings, and any other auditable materials.
  • Project execution: direct control, development, and management of all resources and scheduling including; task milestones, task budgeting, and internal-project billing.
  • Service Management: dispatch and manage all mobility-adept services and equipment assets in real-time.
  • Reports and analysis: comprehensive reporting throughout a given project infrastructure.
  • Labor management: human resources lists, time cards, other relevant FTE or sub-contractor elements, in addition to end-to-end project productivity management.
  • HR and payroll: Automated time, tax, fringe, misc human resources processes, in addition to certification and union cost reporting.
  • Business development modules: lead trapping, identification, indexing and outreach processes.

Again, note the priority of modules and their various orientations to the premise of ERP as a project-based operational value. In most vanilla systems the resources themselves typically drive the systems cart, while the modules simply support the value; but in the construction world, the overall project’s viability represents the first and foremost guidepost throughout.

Consequently, many users who move from a vanilla systems to a construction ERP have problems with this focus change, since if appropriate levels of data aren’t applied and categorized properly upfront, then the system cannot find necessary core elements downstream, and ultimately fails to create meaningful “information” at the project reporting level.

How best to implement a construction ERP

This fix here is simple, if not a bit tedious. Before you populate your platform with baseline data, at minimum, attempt to ensure that you create a paper version of what your project will encompass, including all suggested project task dependencies such as; human resources, a complete matrix of task lists, all proposed project equipment, detailed cost analyses throughout, comprehensive project schedules, and anything else you can think of.

The goal here is to create a representative, and easily reviewed model that acknowledges and showcases every construction project component, and therefore, ensures that all of the necessary pegs are clearly identified, accounted for, and placed properly within the system’s operational framework.

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Rick Carlton

About the author…

Rick Carlton dba PRRACEwire, has worked as a tech journalist, writer, researcher, editor and publisher for many years. In addition to his editorial work, Rick has also served as a C-Level executive/consultant for a wide-range of private and public sector U.S. and International companies.

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Rick Carlton

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