Construction Executive included this article about best practices related to selecting construction management software.
Construction Management Software:
Make the Right Choice, Then Make the Most of It
Why would a busy construction firm change its construction management software? A quick answer is to streamline processes and gain a competitive advantage, both of which are worthy goals.
There are several factors for a contractor to consider when seeking enterprise construction management software that’s right for their organization, now and for the foreseeable future.
Get Management Buy-In
Spoiler alert: All other factors mean little if upper management is not committed to the project and willing to lend their voices and their executive authority to ensuring its success. This is about more than willingness to sign a check; it’s about the forethought and ongoing support that can make or break the success of any system deployment.
With new technology, significant cultural changes are likely to result. These changes can be stressful and challenging for an organization and its personnel. Or, when carefully managed, they can result in growth and return on investment. Senior management does not have to be involved in every step of the implementation process; however, management backing can be the single most important success factor in any implementation process.
Set Clear Objectives
It is important to focus on what the company wants to accomplish—the end results it expects to achieve. Start with broad questions.
- Scope: Is a unified, comprehensive system preferred over an assembly of point solutions?
- Service management: Would service integration with new construction be important?
- Multi-company: Does the company have multiple lines of business or is it considering acquiring other companies?
- Document management: Is reducing paper and automating workflows important?
- Remote access: Would crew foremen, project managers or field service technicians benefit from integrated mobile solutions?
- Deployment: Would onsite or cloud-hosted deployment be preferred?
From here, the focus should be on outcomes. Objectives that can be quantifiably measured are easy for people to grasp and relate to the effort associated with the implementation project. An example would be “reduce duplicate data entry costs by 25 percent.”
The better able the team is at measuring expectations, the easier it is to justify the cost of the project and, perhaps more importantly, the disruption and stress employees may experience in the course of adopting new software and procedures.
Dedicate Appropriate Resources
Create a “core” implementation team specifically for the purpose of evaluating how the company can best make use of the new software in light of the specific measurable objectives set by management. This team should be made up of individuals who cross disciplines with representatives from accounting, operations and information technology at a minimum. It is not unusual to have representation from payroll, human resources, purchasing, warehouse/inventory and equipment management. The team needs the authority to make decisions and a clear path for escalation when facing decisions beyond their scope of authority.
A word of warning: With a lean staff, it may be tempting to pull a team member away from the selection process. Doing so can result in a poorly implemented system that adversely affects the organization for years to come.
Some construction firms outsource this entire process to consultants. No matter how qualified or experienced the experts may be, they don’t have hands-on knowledge of how an individual company operates or will ultimately wind up actually using the new system. Whenever possible, consider internal resources first.
Choose a Partner Carefully
More than one system may seem to have the capabilities needed. Now what? Remember: this isn’t just about selecting software; this is about choosing the people behind the software to partner with for years to come.
- Do they have years of relevant industry experience?
- Do they have a proven implementation methodology?
- Are they as committed to a long-term partnership—and your success—as you are?
Answers to these questions often make the right choice much more obvious.
Provide Consistent, Constant Communication
Personnel who are not on the implementation team may be worried about how the new system will affect their jobs and responsibilities. It is important to communicate often and openly with employees about the goals, objectives and status of the project. Remember, this is a cultural change—one with a very real impact on the company and its personnel. Take steps to clearly tell staff members the things they care about:
- Why did the company select this particular enterprise system?
- How will the new system benefit the company?
- How does it change processes?
- How will it benefit departments and individuals?
In conclusion, the advantages of the right construction management software far outweigh the costs. Benefits many include:
- standardized business processes;
- reduced software and maintenance expenses—one system for financial, accounting, equipment and project management;
- the ability to evaluate business units and their project performance in real time; and
- the ability to do more with less, enabling the company to be more competitive and grow.
The efforts a construction company makes upfront to select the right construction management system will go a long way in determining the return they receive from their investment.
Kirk Heminger leads marketing for Penta Technologies, who makes PENTA Service Management Software as part of the overall PENTA Construction ERP Software system. He has over 12 years of construction ERP software and technology experience. Contact him at email@example.com or (262) 780-2441. Based in Brookfield, Wisc. for over 35 years, Penta Technologies has been helping commercial and industrial contractors improve efficiency and overall effectiveness through world-class enterprise construction software and services.