Implementation of ERP system for construction businesses actually unzips many of the complexities and maintains the work flow of the firm. Sudheer Nair elaborates.
Growing infrastructure needs like rail and road networks, flyovers, high-rise buildings and other infrastructure projects heavily depend on technology use. An enterprise resource planning (ERP) system allows infrastructure firms to achieve more by offering a systematic and integrated functioning of the modules considering all the legal aspects and a detailed interaction of the expertise. But, before investing in ERP system for construction businesses, one should give a brief thought on some of the benefits, functioning and the pain areas through which it goes through.
This is a question that may be asked by many project managers who do not have an exact idea of how an ERP system will help in their daily routine work. Let us elaborate the case in a workable mode of a new construction project that is planned to work in accordance with Plan A, which uses Bill of Quantity (BOQ) material for the construction. The plan A will be considered as a base for the smooth functioning of the project that will ultimately help to complete the project within the stipulated budget and timeframe. Any deviation from the base Plan A can be easily tracked in the ERP systems, whether it is an excess usage of material or unwanted delay occurring in workmanship. This type of handy information could make the work of project managers easy and they will be able to respond to the situation very quickly and successfully. As the Plan A has been designed as a route map for the whole project, work can be carried out smoothly and successfully following the guidelines of the plan map without any hindrance to the project.
The foremost thing about this domain is that infrastructure business is very versatile and dynamic. It not only requires some heavy labour, but also strategic planning, project management, and timely execution of laid plans are of equal importance. The nature of this business being highly dramatic and it requires to maintain a lot of technical as well as other responsibilities like nature conservation, government duties, payment of the wages and the list goes endless. All these difficulties can be buttered by implementing the right ERP solutions for construction, which gives timely pop-ups to the user reminding them the pending stuffs need to be done or the present schedule status against the ideal schedule.
In a country like India, the technical innovations are not always welcomed by the skilled. So, they might not be aware of the usage limit, maintenance gap, etc. Construction ERP maintains a track record of the usage of materials and equipment based on the movements of materials and requirements from inventory/godown to the project sites.
How will the ERP solutions for construction suffice the unique business needs?
Infrastructure business is very diverse. Each infrastructure is independent and requires different strategies to work on. The ERP solutions for infrastructure integrates the varied fields right from the source of quality materials till the collection of revenue and complaint handling through the Sales and Customer Management modules.
In construction business, success is usually dependent on the quality as well as timely completion of projects. This can be achieved by effective tracking the work of labourers across various scales and performances of the project managers. With the introduction of modules like On-site engineer's Management, Quality Control and Assurance Management, etc, the authorised will be able to get a bird's eye view of the ongoing work pace and quality of work provided.
With features to generate work order for contractors/sub-contractors, manage labour contracts, forms for extra claim quantity, tracking on-site materials movement, its consumption and requirement and many such facilities, this software for infrastructure ensures a high degree of flexibility to meet the customers' needs facilitating a good customer relationship.
Generally, one enterprise has to manage multiple work-sites and multiple contractors or sub-contractors. ERP software for construction integrates all the contractors, warehouses and projects so that one will be able to get a complete report of the situations and give branch-wise, contractor-wise, and project-wise reports based on the requirement so that one will be able to alter/plan the necessary steps to be taken and can priorotise their projects.
How will the ERP solutions help one gain better control over the business?
ERP software inter-communicates the needs of the customers making them capable of effectively managing their warehouses, projects, cash flow through time-to-time invoices. By proper electronic tracking of the on-goings of the project, maintenance of heavy machinery like cranes, bulldozers, chainsaws, safety equipment, etc, one can keep an eye on the usage of resources and the production and alert the project manager whether the project is on time or running behind schedule.
Every stage should work according to the workflow which are predefined into the system; if any of the step is skipped or it fails, the ERP system alarms the project manager regarding the issue so that necessary steps would be taken or otherwise would cause a huge hunch in the smooth flow later.
These ERP solutions for infrastructure not only give an instant access to the projects, but one will also be able enough to track project budgets at individual as well as summary level before hand by feeding the necessary data, BOQ, life expectancy of various fixed assets like cranes, trucks, equipment and their maintenance gap for their longevity. This would ensure accountability of projects at various stages of the project.
Constant monitoring over the progress of the project from the pre-constructed stage to the post-constructed stage enables the owner to prioritise the projects and get them completed by the promised time.
Can ERP co-ordinate work with other contractors/sub-contractors on the job?
It is possible if one opts for ERP solutions from the vendors who provide customisation. Generally, a ledger is created against each contractor; any of the work or projects undertaken by the contractor would be reported into the system and systematic reports can be generated as and when required. So, because of the systematic entry of the works done by different contractors and their subcontractors, the arguments can be avoided and if made visible throughout the system, would prove beneficial for the firm as a whole.
What support services should one expect to receive as part of an ERP implementation?
Implementation of ERP system for construction businesses actually unzips many of the complexities and maintains the work flow of the firm, thus giving it a title Organised Chaos.