Running a successful construction firm is by no means an easy task. Managing a reputation for delivering high-quality projects, keeping your business profitable, your people productive, and your firm growing requires focus, commitment, and understanding.
Though there are many things you need to focus on. Though much of your work can be improved by working smarter and using the tools and skills you already have, there’s a good chance that’s not true for everything. When hard work and elbow grease can’t deliver, you often need to upgrade your tools. For example, you wouldn’t require your people to use shovels for major excavation work and you wouldn’t use a ladder for the job of a lift.
But when it comes to back-office technology, too many firms rely exclusively on elbow grease and hope—definitely not a strategy that works. With so many moving parts and expectations, keeping track of it all with paper and spreadsheets is slow and inaccurate. Business management software like ERP is built to handle this—but who can deliver?
Who’s Delivering ERP Solutions for Construction?
To answer this question, we’ve partnered with analysts and technology experts, the Business Software Education Center, to explore the top ERP solutions for growing construction firms. The Business Software Education Center, or BSEC, is a group of technology experts who provide resources and tools on software selection to companies, and they graciously agreed to assist us with our analysis of construction management software. Over the course of the next year, they will offer their insights quarterly on different types of software available for construction firms, starting with ERP.
Defining Enterprise Resource Planning
According to BSEC’s glossary of software terms, Enterprise Resource Planning Software is a product that “allows a company to manage various aspects of a business — such as accounting, inventory and human relations — in one place. Companies purchase the enterprise software modules that are relevant to their business and use the ERP software to view all the data collected by these modules in a uniform manner.”
Why Is It So Hard for Construction Firms to Find ERP?
Though many companies make ERP, construction has unique needs. Often, this makes it hard to find a solution—you have to handle a complicated blend of equipment, inventory, subcontractors, bids, and project management, just to name a few.
Unfortunately, few solutions do everything well—a manufacturing-focused product will deliver inventory, a field service product will make it easy to keep track of equipment, and a project management-focused solution will do project management well. Construction needs everything of this, not to mention the following:
- Construction-specific payroll
- Task scheduling
- Mobile-friendly access
- Predictive capacity
- Smart budgeting and planning
- Financial analysis
- Contractor and Subcontractor management
- User friendliness for all levels of technological understanding
- Prospecting and CRM
- Work in Progress Billing and Revenue Recognition
Getting a solution that can do all this and more is no easy task, but luckily there are a few options able to handle the needs of construction firms.
Ten Construction ERP Solutions Worth Considering
Though the following list is by no means comprehensive, BSEC has identified and recommends these ten for consideration firms.
Acumatica Cloud ERP Construction Edition
A newer player to the construction industry, Acumatica Construction Edition has long featured all the pieces that construction firms need, recently packaging the product into its incredibly powerful Construction Edition. Acumatica Construction Edition keeps your team on the same page, relying on a core system that has the latest project reports, contracts, budgets, plans, specifications, change orders, invoices, purchase orders and job costs.
It’s a secure, SaaS solution with reporting, dashboards and data analytics available on phones, tablets and PCs—anywhere at any time.
Microsoft Dynamics SL
Built for the project-based business, Microsoft Dynamics SL has long provided the familiarity that many construction companies need. Though it’s one of the older solutions on this list and not construction specific, Microsoft has made strides to redesign this product for more flexibility in deployment and integrations that construction firms need.
The Business Ready Advanced Management licensing comes with four project related modules to track job costing, and there are many companies who are skilled in customizing this solution and adding functionality.
Epicor ERP addresses the real-world challenges companies face as they look to grow in today’s global economy. Connecting a variety of processes, this product was built for manufacturing growth and offers construction-focused customization. Epicor can help you to receive complete visibility of project-based resources including assets, inventory, materials and labor.
Reflex’s Construction Management software provides project and asset-based life-cycle management in one fully integrated software package. With embedded analytics, multi-currency ready financial management, and more, this product delivers the functionality that homes, mixed use construction, general construction, civil construction or any other construction company needs.
Sage 300/Sage 300 Cloud
One of the most popular and robust solutions for construction management, Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate gives construction firms the power to manage the entire construction project or property lifecycle with a complete financial management solution.
Penta Construction ERP
With over thirty years of providing construction software, Penta is a well-known and trusted brand in the construction industry. Penta Construction ERP was made for multi-location, labor intensive service contractors. It serves mid-sized to large specialty, utility, and industrial contractors in the construction and engineering industries.
One of the well-known options in the construction industry, Procore helps Owners, General Contractors, and Specialty Contractors to manage their projects and financials, gaining complete visibility, keeping projects on schedule, and working more efficiently. Procore gives you the power to manage accurate project budgets with reliable data drawn from the field.
This solution provides a complete product from preconstruction to financial management to project management and more.
SAP S/4HANA is an intelligent, integrated ERP system that runs on the SAP HANA in-memory database that allows companies to perform transactions and analyze business data in real-time. Built to provide a customizable solution helps engineering, construction, and operations (EC&O) firms not only need to reengineer their business processes but also build on a vision.
SAP S/4HANA provides engineering, construction, and operations companies with a proven framework to adopt industry next practices while attaining operational excellence across the full value chain.
The #1 Cloud ERP in the world, Oracle NetSuite has built in business intelligence, reporting, and renders real-time visibility across your organization. Providing a combination of financial management, CRM, project management, inventory management, and a robust network of partners and customers, NetSuite empowers the industries to reduce IT costs, unleash growth, and eliminate operational incompetence- allowing you to focus on revenue-generating decisions, rather than your back-end systems.
NetSuite, though not designed for the construction industry, is a solution that is flexible enough to deliver. With the help of a skilled implementation partner, construction firms can get exactly what they need from this product.
Designed before their NetSuite Acquisition, Oracle’s ERP and Cloud ERP checks the boxes for both midsized and global construction firms, according to ERP Focus. Asset owners and project leaders rely on Oracle Construction and Engineering software for the visibility and control, connected supply chain, and data security needed to drive performance and mitigate risk across their processes, projects, and organization. Feel confident in your digital transformation with modern cloud solutions that grow and scale with you at every step of your journey. Enable efficiency, collaboration, and change control for your teams that plan, build, and operate critical assets.
Build Your Construction Business
At The Construction Marketing Association, we care about the long-term success of our readers and clients. We’re excited to partner with the Business Software Education Center to discuss the top construction software options for growing companies.