In the modern construction industry, having the right tools and resources is essential for success. One of the key tools that can significantly impact a construction company’s efficiency and profitability is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution. ERP systems have become a critical part of construction management, helping businesses streamline operations, enhance project control, and boost overall productivity. However, not all ERP systems are created equal, and construction companies need to carefully evaluate the features offered by different solutions to find the one that best suits their needs. In this article, we’ll explore the top construction features to look for in an ERP solution.
1. Platform and Tools
When considering an ERP software platform, it’s important to evaluate its flexibility and customization capabilities. Acumatica, for example, stands out in supporting multi-discipline companies that manufacture, distribute, construct, and service – a commonality in the construction field. Additionally, the ability to customize screens and provide user-defined fields (UDF) can greatly enhance your ERP’s adaptability to your specific business processes.
Mobile capabilities are crucial in construction, enabling real-time access to data and functionality at any location. Acumatica’s cloud-native architecture ensures complete data access and functionality on the go, unlike legacy applications ported to the cloud that may suffer from performance and integration limitations.
Core financial modules are the backbone of any ERP system, and for construction companies, certain features are essential. Look for ERP solutions that provide robust support for:
- General ledger
- Accounts payable
- Accounts receivable
- Bank management (cash management or bank reconciliation)
Acumatica goes the extra mile by offering multi-company and multi-currency support, which is crucial for growing construction organizations. Moreover, it supports inter-company features, job cost/change management accounting, retainage, certified payroll, and billing.
3. Inventory Management
Effective inventory management is vital for construction companies to ensure timely access to materials and minimize project delays. Standard inventory functionality should include:
- Stock and non-stock item management
- Unit of measure definitions
- Pricing and packaging
- Movement classes
Acumatica goes beyond the basics by offering advanced features such as kitting, barcoding, labeling, lot and serial tracking, expiration date management, and inventory allocation for orders. These features can significantly streamline your inventory processes, reducing errors and saving time.
In the construction industry, customer relationship management (CRM) and sales functionalities are essential for winning and managing projects effectively. Look for an ERP solution that provides:
- Sales commissions tracking
- Quotes management
- CRM capabilities
Acumatica offers additional advantages with the ability to quote specifically for projects, write full proposals, and track events within the system. These features empower construction companies to streamline their sales processes and deliver exceptional customer service.
5. Project Management
Project management is at the heart of construction, and your ERP solution should support it comprehensively. Features to consider include:
- Automated workflows
- Real-time task views
- Vendor and commitment management
- Compliance management
- Change management capabilities
Acumatica excels in project management by providing built-in document management for remote access to critical project documents. Integration with certified industry and business applications ensures that you can configure the system to meet your organization’s complex needs seamlessly.
Efficient purchasing and procurement processes are crucial for controlling costs and managing the flow of materials to job sites. Look for ERP systems that offer:
- Blanket orders
- Receipt of goods processing
- Landed cost calculations
- Vendor returns management
Acumatica’s standout feature is the ability to purchase job site materials and have them shipped directly to the field, eliminating unnecessary steps in the procurement process.
7. Subcontractor Management
Effectively managing subcontractors is essential for ensuring that projects are completed on time, within budget, and to the desired quality standards. Choose an ERP solution that allows you to:
- Monitor subcontractor performance
- Ensure contract compliance
- Efficient payment processing
Overall, subcontractor management within Acumatica enhances transparency and accountability in subcontractor relationships, leading to smoother project execution and better outcomes for construction companies.
The ability to drop-ship materials allows contractors to streamline their supply chain processes by getting materials and equipment directly to job sites, eliminating the need for double-handling or storage at a central location. Seek out an ERP that helps you:
- Reduce transportation costs
- Improve inventory management
- Accelerate project timelines
One of Acumatica’s unique strong points, drop shipping ensures that the right materials are delivered to the right place at the right time, enhancing efficiency and reducing project delays, ultimately contributing to cost savings and improved project profitability.
9. Automated AP and Approval Workflows
Automated workflows streamline the handling of invoices and expense approvals, significantly reducing manual data entry and paperwork. Find an ERP solution that provides:
- Configurable approval hierarchy
- Systematic invoice and approval tracking
- Configurable rules and notifications to ensure process and regulatory compliance
Acumatica’s AP and approval workflows empower construction firms to optimize their accounts payable processes, reduce administrative overhead, and make more informed financial decisions, ultimately contributing to better financial health and profitability.
10. Equipment Management
For contractors with heavy equipment, tracking and managing equipment usage and maintenance is crucial for cost control and project planning. Look for a solution that allows you to track:
- Maintenance history
- Current location
Equipment management in Acumatica enables construction companies to allocate equipment efficiently to different projects and job sites. This helps in optimizing equipment usage, preventing overuse or underutilization, and ensuring that the right equipment is available when and where it is needed.
A Construction ERP You Can Count On, With a Partner You Can Trust
By carefully evaluating ERP solutions based on these key features, construction companies can make an informed decision that aligns with their specific needs and goals.
Acumatica, with its comprehensive feature set tailored to the construction industry, is a prime choice for companies looking to optimize their operations and drive success in the competitive construction market.
Yet, ERP implementation is not for the faint-hearted. You need a technology partner who not only knows the chosen solution inside and out but also has experience implementing it with the unique needs of the construction industry in mind.