What are the business benefits of enterprise resource planning?
By Niamh Marriott15 April 2022
The benefits of enterprise resource planning (ERP) for business are boundless, says the SC&RA.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) refers to a type of software organisations use to manage day-to-day business activities, such as accounting, procurement, project management, risk management and compliance and supply chain operations.
ERP systems are critical for managing thousands of businesses of all sizes and in all industries. To these companies ERP is as indispensable as the electricity to keep the lights on.
Construction and transport companies understand well enough the pressures surrounding a tight budget and a fixed deadline. Yet unforeseen circumstances often arise, sending established plans out the window and requiring workers to set a new schedule and new margins. Ultimately, efficiency becomes the victim – and if you have a good ERP system in place, the software can be relied on to get the project back on track.
The integration question
An additional benefit to a complete ERP suite is that it also includes enterprise performance management and software that helps plan, budget, predict and report on an organisation’s financial results.
It basically integrates all your various software systems into one comprehensive solution – allowing managers to use tools to effectively manage the full lifecycle of a project, including: CRM, cost estimation, bid management, contract and purchase-order management, project scheduling, inventory management, facility and equipment management, reporting, document and workflow management regarding drafts, RFIs and RFPs, productivity and performance monitoring and HR and payroll processing.
But how integrated is integrated? 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 integrated a system easy to upgrade and support?
The best thing you can do is reach out to others in the industry –
colleagues, peers, partners – and see who is using what and 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 or transport ERP system.
Some of the top names in ERP solutions include Acumatica, CMiC, Computer Guidance Corporation (CGC), Epicor, MarkSystems, Oracle, Penta, Procore, Sage and Viewpoint.
Like all tech, it’s worth doing your due diligence to see which system is most aligned with your needs, which includes asking the right questions. Do the provider and the software offer real and proven solutions to the challenges you face? Will it help you to improve quality of build of business information, or support growth, while benefiting from the economies of scale? How can it support your growth ambitions while helping to manage and control operating costs?
Again, ask around and ultimately confirm with your provider that you can both identify quick wins as well as longer term benefits.
At the end of the day these benefits must be felt by not just your business but also your customers, contractors and supply chain partners. It is paramount the software vendor understands the business you’re in, including the market(s), the overall industry, your specific challenges.
A good initial test: can they demonstrate as much through the answers they provide and the solutions they offer during the software evaluation process? Is there evidence of true understanding? They should also arrive with sterling references you can follow up on.
Whichever ERP solution you choose, make sure it easily enables you to access the right data, at the right time, supporting informed and agile business decisions that allow you to use your resources to their utmost effectiveness.