Construction and ERP – is it possible?

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For years, enterprise resources planning (ERP) software was to be found primarily within the manufacturing sector. Other forms of enterprise application were employed in other industries, and an increasing number of businesses have been enjoying the efficiencies that come from using a common technology platform and database. The construction industry, however, seemed reluctant to embrace the enterprise application concept and tended to stick with the ‘point solutions’ that had been developed over the years for each of the various stages of the construction processes.

One reason for this may be the conservative nature of much of the construction industry (with some notable exceptions), meaning that new technologies and ways of working often meet resistance unless there is a pressing reason to change. Another may be the fact that, until recently at least, senior managers in construction (including the IT managers in many cases) only had experience from within the construction industry and had not been exposed to best practice tools and techniques from elsewhere. Thirdly, to be frank, until recently very few of the leading enterprise applications were well-suited to construction. ERP lacked the project-based functionality needed in construction and was better suited to the more process based industries in which it originated.

But demand is growing. In this blog we’ll look at some of the factors and drivers behind the trend toward construction ERP and examine the types of functionality and other requirements contractors need to look for when selecting what is often their first-ever enterprise-wide application.

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