5 questions when selecting a construction ERP

By Dominic Ellis
Chris Westbury, Chief Operating Officer of Construction Industry Solutions, highlights 5 key factors when selecting a construction ERP

The selection of a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is a major undertaking. Avoid the common pitfalls and select the best system for your construction business by following the advice of Chris Westbury, Chief Operating Officer of Construction Industry Solutions (COINS), construction ERP solution specialists.

1. How integrated is integrated?

When people talk about ‘integrated’, what do they really mean?  Is it a bunch of systems stitched together that will be high maintenance, fragile and ultimately reliant on a few knowledgeable individuals to maintain it; or is it seamlessly and effortlessly integrated, one which will be easy to upgrade and support?  

Speak to others in the market who are using the proposed solution to determine if the integration truly is seamless. A platform which integrates finance, procurement and commercial systems is one of the key things you should consider when looking for a construction ERP system such as COINS.

“This means that you don't need to worry about trying to knit different solutions together, and you end up with one single version of the truth," said Westbury. 

2. What are the benefits?

Do the provider and the software offer real and proven solutions to the challenges that you face? Will it help you to improve quality of build or quality of business information, or support growth, whilst benefitting from the economies of scale? How can it support your growth ambitions whilst helping to manage and control operating costs? Speak to others in the market who are using the proposed solution. Ensure that you and the provider can identify quick wins in terms of better cost control, validation, reporting and analysis, as well as longer term benefits.

3. What are the true economies?

Can the ERP solution offer true economies in terms of eCommerce, workflows, standardisation of processes and visibility of what’s happening on sites, both right now and in the future?

Can the software provider demonstrate this using one of your projects or sites as an example?  This will help to remove the need for imagination in the evaluation process and demonstrate how this can be achieved in your specific business. Make sure that that the ERP solution will enable you to easily access the right data, at the right time, supporting informed and agile business decisions and helping you to use your resources effectively.

4. Who will benefit?

Will the benefits be felt by not just your business, but also your customers, contractors and supply chain partners? It’s a huge benefit if the platform covers end to end processes. For example, homebuilders should look for a system such as COINS ERP+ which covers everything from land appraisal, all elements of the construction process and finance, through to sales and customer aftercare.

5. Does the software provider really, really understand the market you are in?

Does the software vendor really understand what you do? Can they demonstrate this through the answers they provide and the solutions they offer during the software evaluation process?  Is there evidence of true understanding? Speak to others in the market who are using the solution. References are essential to demonstrate a proven track record of providing solutions to companies of your size and type within your very specific industry.

Meet the solution provider’s team to ensure they truly understand the specific challenges that you face, and can offer solutions and draw upon their experience in problem solving.

Ask probing questions to understand how they have implemented solutions in the past. Benefit from their previous industry experience by finding out what challenges were faced and what lessons were learned. 

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