Our clients routinely ask for our recommendations on Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) software solutions. Common ERP systems for contractors include accounting, project management and field reporting. Selecting an ERP system should be done carefully and well planned. The reality is that there is not one solution that fits all contractors. While this is not an all-inclusive list of considerations for selecting an ERP system, we hope this information helps you get the process started.
We have worked with contractors that have invested in the most expensive and advanced ERP systems, only to learn that the software was much too sophisticated for their needs. This is not to say the software was not a quality product; but rather, it was designed with a much larger organization in mind. The contractor ultimately moved to a less expensive, less sophisticated software that met their needs. Alternatively, we also do not recommend shopping for the lowest price. You will likely end up with an ERP system that provides some of what you need but does not provide the visibility into your business or allow you to grow without changing systems again.
Essentials of a Good ERP System
A good ERP system will help you automate processes, increase accuracy, increase collaboration, provide efficiencies and give greater visibility into your business. We recommend that you begin by creating a detailed and extensive list of requirements before you begin your search. You should focus on your business processes and understand what information you are not able to gather from your current system. I recently had a contractor using a basic accounting software, along with manual Excel files to track jobs and progress. His number one need in a solution was to understand the progress of his jobs at any given time, preferably with the click of a button on his mobile device. This was a great starting point because not all software is created equal, and not all vendors offer solutions specifically designed for contractors. Understanding your core needs will allow you to focus on a smaller list of solutions.
Once you have determined the most important needs of your system you should also consider the impact on your end users. Most solutions provide access well beyond the desktop. Tremendous efficiencies can be gained in construction with mobile access to software. You will want to understand if you currently have appropriate mobile devices and equipment along with the impact on the daily responsibilities to your end users. There is no doubt that a new system integration is time consuming and demanding on your team. Setting expectations and communicating throughout the process is critical to the success of the integration.
Finding the Right Fit
We recommend you look to the future long-term benefits of integrating the “right” system for your organization. We observed several contractors that invested heavily in new information systems prior to 2020. These contractors were well positioned for the disruptions that occurred due to the pandemic. We also observed an increased investment into ERP systems during and after the pandemic. As a contractor you have many options for ERP systems. Be sure to identify professionals to help you in your search. We have some great resources in our local market.
McKonly & Asbury is here to help. We would be happy to provide input based on our experiences with products, vendors and professionals. For more information on these services and more, be sure to visit our construction services page and don’t hesitate to reach out to Dan Sturm, Partner and Leader of our Construction Industry practice at email@example.com.