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July 24, 2018 | Written by: Michelle Reinhold

Advice for Evaluating an ERP System

OK, so I went out and bought a new construction technology, now what??

The construction industry employs about 7 percent of the world’s working-age population and is one of the world economy’s largest sectors, with $10 trillion spent on construction-related goods and services every year…. But the industry has an intractable productivity problem.

“Construction has very low spending, low digitization and low productivity growth,” said McKinsey & Company consultant Ryan Price. “The case definitely exists that productivity and competitiveness in the construction industry could rise with rising investment.” Price’s assessment of the construction technology market is one that is very highly fragmented with no clear winners at the forefront, but he noted a definite trend towards integration. Price goes on to say “Many companies design and adjust their products to integrate with solutions on the market, some products that are a solution for a single area, like construction management or document management, for example, later expand into additional areas.”

Having personally worked for several leading point solutions as well as one of the largest “end to end” players in the market, Viewpoint, I have witnessed a dramatic shift in the construction industry to have all solutions have some level of integration, and ultimately also be supplied by only one or a limited number of vendors.

Process FIRST Product SECOND

With so many products at a construction company’s disposal, it can be really intimidating and somewhat daunting task for companies to even know where the heck to start and how to even narrow their choices down from hundreds to several contenders for a new technology. Three of my personal favorite places to search for construction software, or software in general, would be SoftwareAdvice.com, Capterra, and G2Crowd.

Ryan Watson, Founder and Principal of Upsourced Accounting notes that, “Whether we’re looking at our own internal workflows or the handoff of information with our clients, we’ve been trained to leap straight from problem to the software that claims to be a solution without any consideration for the most important step: process.” It’s critical to first focus on the process that technology is intended to improve. With technology there isn’t a magic silver bullet. If you have a process that is not fully optimized or is not showing positive results already simply throwing technology at it will not fix the problem.

After you feel like the process is under control it’s then time for the new technology investment phase. Identifying the solutions that best meet the current business needs, it sometimes helps to have a 3rd party opinion. Business Information Group has been around for over 25 years helping hundreds, if not thousands, of construction companies improve their business processes, and implement and train staff on new Enterprise Resource Planning solutions. It’s always a good idea to get a second set of eyes from a group that knows the marketplace and the proven leaders. Even one short meeting can help your technology committee get off to a great start when evaluating new construction software or technologies.

Find your Champions and reward them!

According to a recent McKinsey & Company study, companies that invest in developing leaders throughout an organizational transformation are about 2 to 3 times more likely to succeed in transformations than firms that did not make this investment.

To ensure a successful launch it is always our recommendation to provide varying levels of training prior to and throughout the deployment. This training we like to see starts with onsite (in person) training, and once the software is live we can then move to a remote “as needed” training scenario. A general overview of the program and its goals should be delivered early on to the project stakeholders. Like at any company a construction company is no different, there will be varying levels of comprehension of new technology along with varying levels of acceptance toward new construction technologies.

Some team members will require more comprehensive explanations of how the new technology works and how it interfaces with other platforms, while others might just need to watch a short video or just play around with the app for a few hours. Some technology for the field these days really is completely “plug and play” and others is much more complicated needing many long training sessions.

Technology adoption is not always something that happens overnight. It takes a ton of hard work and it must be something that is rewarded within the company for those individual that want to truly improve workflows and processes for a better future job experience.

Once champions are created and the “buzz” gets going around the office others will start to fall in line. Stay in constant communication with your employees to get feedback on the new technology that is being implemented. There will always be a few negative comments, since human nature for most is to resist change, but make sure your implementation is a living breathing thing that is always evolving and always staying highly agile. It’s critical to listen to your people and take things in a “bite sized” approach. If you try to do too much too soon the results could be counter-productive to the overall goal.

To find out more about this topic, contact us today.