Although Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is still relatively new in the market, most major companies have taken the step to embrace technology and implement an (ERP) solution in preference to stand alone software packages for each of their departments. This has allowed them to better manage and streamline their operations by integrating the systems and databases in use and create an aligned and seamless end to end process.
The notable exception to this pattern is within the construction industry where early ERP Systems were not fit for purpose. The early versions were designed with traditional businesses in mind and not able to deal the complex asset based focus of the construction industry. This resulted in early attempts to utilise ERP being less than successful for contractors and constructors. As with all aspects of technology, the pace of development and change is rapid. Now Construction ERP systems, designed by and for the construction industry, are available and becoming essential for contractors to stay ahead in the market.
Construction Software that can manage the entire contract process from Estimating and initial bidding, right through cost control, project management, variations, sub-contracting, plant and equipment hire (the list of features handled by Construction Software is exhaustive) up to and including hand-over, sounds almost too good to be true. But it is true. It is real and it has been tried and embedded into the operating procedures of some of the most prominent and successful construction companies around the globe.
But what does it cost? The answer to that question is multi-layered. The cost of the software itself will depend on its features and scope of operation and whether you are buying outright or leasing it. The actual cost, however will need to consider the following factors over and above the software price itself:
- Process Alignment
- Technical Support
Your construction software is going to need professional installation and configuration. If you have already begun your research into the scope of construction software applications, you will know that they are extremely complex and you will most likely need to carry out a review of your current operating systems and servers as well as the suitability of existing hardware and software applications in use. The cost of this is going to need to be factored into your overall cost estimate. If you are dealing with one of the market leading construction software providers, they will have solutions and alternatives for you to explore to minimize these impacts and will represent a genuine real time saving in the long run rather than pursuing a lower budget option.
We have already highlighted that Construction Software is extremely complex. That doesn’t mean that it is not user-friendly, more that it has extremely wide ranging and comprehensive functions that will require training for the Users. Your employees will need to take the time to absorb this training. As with implementation assistance, an experienced software provider will have the resources to provide this training and should be discussed and agreed with them when sourcing your software solution.
One size is unlikely to fit all and an ‘off the shelf’ product for construction is likely going to be a poor fit for everyone. True Construction Software has the flexibility and functions to be tailored to fit your business like a glove in terms of operational processes and business intelligence (it will provide bespoke reporting in a way that your business requires). Speak to your software providers about bespoke tailoring and what they can offer in terms of customisation either by them or in terms of training for your own IT teams should that be more appropriate for the scale of your business.
Although Construction Software can be tailored to fit how your operations are run, there are going to be significant changes to how your current staff will operate once the systems are embedded. Consider how many manual processes are currently performed within your teams. It is hard to comprehend before having seen these systems in action but the level of integration and intuitive process enhancements can be breathtaking. Some of the most significant benefits of using Construction Software come from the amount of time freed up by removing manual processes and increased accuracy (human error is all but eliminated). The impact (although positive)will likely require that the processes in place are going to be redesigned through maximised efficiency.
Technology advances at a rapid rate (just look at the how the new iPhone can be launched, only to be succeeded less than a month later by an even more advanced version) and your software should follow suit. Consider the benefit of having a rental type agreement(software lease) that includes upgrades and enhancements as part of the offering rather than what may look like a cheaper purchase option. Building in growth and development to your package is always a good way to ensure you stay ahead of the pack and constantly up to date with the very best and cutting edge facilities and functionality.
Make sure your software provider has a strong and verifiable track record in delivering outstanding customer service and product support. Construction Software in a necessary investment but one that should deliver unparalleled return on investment (ROI) if done correctly. Having specialist support available to deal with any technical issues will ensure your ROI is protected and that the enhancements and efficiencies available from the software are delivered and sustained within your business. Don’t forget, you will have adapted to the process changes and intuitive automation, it would be a shock to have it taken away suddenly and without warning.
Interested in more? See “The Importance of Construction Software in the GCC Market“