How To Find the Best Construction ERP Software
A successful construction project requires many tools, but one of the most important of these possesses is neither bit nor blade. The right ERP system can mean the difference between a project that runs smoothly, without wasting materials or staff hours, and one that comes in past its deadline, over budget, and with frustrations for team members and clients alike.
Here’s a glimpse into what your construction company should consider when searching for the best construction ERP software — and the support an experienced ERP consultant can offer.
What Should You Look For In a Construction ERP System?
There are certain factors that, no matter the industry, you should consider when choosing between ERP systems: scalability, ease of use, a price point that makes sense for your company and whether the software is built for an organization of your size. The best construction ERP software will align with your organization on all of these points.
But there are additional qualities that, while beneficial for any business, are particularly important in the construction space. They include:
You may have teams at multiple project sites at any given time. Each team needs accurate, up-to-the-moment information on key data points like inventory availability and project costs so they can make informed decisions as the project moves forward. But it’s not always practical for field managers to be in constant contact with the main office, asking if the shipment of 2x4s has come in yet or if the minor change the client wants to make will put the project over budget. Real-time visibility is a way to communicate seamlessly, without needing to pick up a phone.
In order for real-time visibility to serve its purpose, teams must be able to access the data they need from any location, even a project site in the middle of a meadow with not a computer in sight. The ability to access your ERP system from any device is beneficial for any industry, but it’s critical in construction so field managers can stay where they’re most needed: in the field.
Maybe you don’t own your own heavy equipment now, but hope to within the decade. The ability to integrate with an asset management software solution will come in handy. Maybe you don’t sell lumber right now but would like to add that to your offerings in the near future, in which case fulfillment and possibly eCommerce capabilities will be needed. Integration options allow you to add capabilities when you need them, with the ability to run a tighter ship when you don’t. With so many users out in the field, it’s even more important in construction that your ERP system avoids the slow performance and user-unfriendliness that can come with an overly complex system.
In an industry with so many moving parts, automated workflows help ensure no aspects of a construction project fall through the cracks. Automatically updating subcontracts and purchase orders from accounts payable, for example, ensures commitments are paid accurately and on time. The ability to automatically replenish tools and materials on site prevents job delays.
Demand forecasting isn’t just for the consumer goods sector. It’s also integral for a service-based industry like construction. Utilizing AI and machine learning, “forecasting capabilities enable firms to plan and staff future projects, dynamically scheduling crews so that the right people are available for the job at the right time,” asserts a post from global firm Hitachi Solutions. Demand forecasting can also help you determine what your billing rates should be so you don’t shortchange yourself or lose out on business because your prices aren’t competitive.
The best construction ERP software comes with capabilities specific to the industry. Project management, which can encompass everything from bids and proposals, supply chain management and scheduling to time and materials tracking, is key among these functionalities. Other examples relate to cost estimating, retainage tracking and document management.
The Best ERP Software for Construction
Here’s a rundown of some of the best construction ERP software systems on the market today.
Acumatica Construction Edition
What makes Acumatica Construction Edition an ideal construction ERP system?
A True Cloud System
Because it’s natively built on the cloud, Acumatica’s full set of features can be accessed from anywhere. Information can be updated in real time, ensuring a single source of truth that means all stakeholders have accurate information at all times.
Cost Is Based on Resources Used, Not Number of Users
As construction professionals, you may have multiple team members accessing your ERP software, from sales team members making deals, to project managers entering material costs, to employees and subcontractors entering their hours. Acumatica is unique in that charges are based on the resources you use, such as the number of purchase orders created, versus how many people are accessing the system. This can be a huge cost saver and helpful toward scalability.
It Has Scores of Integration and Customization Options
Acumatica comes with more than 80 native integrations that work right out of the box as well as more than 300 available integrations on the Acumatica Marketplace, all but guaranteeing you can have all the capabilities you need when you need them. Its open APIs also mean it can integrate with custom software.
It’s Ranked Among the Best
Forbes Advisor confirms the positive assessment of Acumatica, ranking it as one of the best construction ERP systems of 2023. “We were particularly impressed with the solution’s easy user experience, as well as the ability to make highly accurate estimates, manage job costs, simplify payroll and monitor overhead costs,” the site’s review reads. The review makes special note of a “neat feature” that allows you to embed a live view of a job site – taking the concept of real-time visibility to a whole new level.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is another software with a cornucopia of functionalities uniquely beneficial to the construction industry. In fact, Forbes Advisor has deemed it the best overall construction ERP of 2023. Business Central boasts all of the features that are integral to a successful construction operation, including powerful workflow automation capabilities. It also has:
Available for either on-premises or cloud deployment, your crew can access the information they need no matter where they are, enabling them “to be productive when they’re in the office, in the field or anywhere in between,” Forbes Advisor notes.
Business Central’s construction-centric capabilities include supply planning and availability, project management, warehouse management and more. Forbes Advisor calls special attention to the software’s real-time resource scheduling capabilities “that can consider factors such as a worker’s skill and ability, so everyone and everything is at the right place at the right time.”
Business Central is interoperable with Microsoft 365, Teams, and a host of apps available via Microsoft AppSource, including ones specifically designed for project management. You can extend the solution using the Microsoft Power Platform, which encompasses Power Automate, Power BI and Power Apps.
Construct the Right Partnership for Ultimate ERP Success
It’s rare to find a one-person construction site. Construction is an industry where people work together – so why would your company undertake an ERP journey alone? An experienced ERP consulting team can help you choose, implement and customize the best construction ERP software for your business. The right partner won’t leave it at that, though: they’ll support your company throughout the life of the system, assisting with additional customizations and integrations as your business needs evolve.
Crestwood Associates has assisted in more than 5,000 successful ERP implementations across industries, providing expert insight and practical help with everything from system selection to data migration, integrations, training, cloud hosting and ongoing support provided by a dedicated in-house team. We possess all of the attributes of the right ERP partner, as well as the credentials to prove it: we’re Gold Partners with both Acumatica and Microsoft.
Request a consultation to learn what Crestwood Associates can offer your construction business.