Today’s challenging global landscape is weighing on an already competitive construction market. As a result, commercial contractors have accelerated their adoption of technologies to protect and grow marketshare, differentiate project delivery, and “future proof” their businesses against what is likely to be more tumultuous times ahead.
In order to achieve their objectives, contractors require reliable, secure, and scalable systems that deliver data-driven decision-making and collaboration between jobsites, backoffices, and third-party vendors. With the right ERP (enterprise resource planning) software solutions in place, their goals are quickly becoming realized.
Business Intelligence, Business Analytics, and Artificial Intelligence
What used to sound like science fiction—business intelligence, business analytics, and artificial intelligence—are now commonly used terms to describe the role of data in today’s business management systems. Data is the heartbeat of every successful commercial contractor and the lifeblood of their digital transformation strategies. Stakeholders in the field and office alike rely on data to make informed decisions that have significant impacts on the bottomline. If data is unreliable or unavailable it can hurt productivity and increase costs.
A cloud-based ERP system enables contractors to cost-effectively acquire powerful resources to collect and transform data into realtime contextual relevancy to support day-to-day operations. The high availability and scalability of construction-specific applications deliver accurate, on demand information to users across the enterprise, allowing contractors to focus on core activities, driving profitability by delivering more projects on time and under budget.
Becoming a data-driven organization is imperative in today’s high-paced world and essential for successful project outcomes for demanding customers. Innovative user interfaces and data-driven applications are only beneficial if every touch point, every click, and every interaction is streamlined for maximum efficiency. A digital workflow that connects the field to the office empowers users and creates greater productivity and efficiency through seamless data input, capture, sharing, storing, reporting, analyzing, and forecasting.
The potential applications of machine learning and artificial intelligence within the construction industry will soon drive workforce productivity to even higher levels. As data is compiled, a contractor’s would-be “virtual” assistant will sift through and scrutinize mountains of information to quickly uncover mission-critical data to drive proactive decisions on the most imperative topics at hand.
A well-designed and user-centric business intelligence application can provide information in an easily digestible and highly actionable format. Project managers can be alerted to prevent cost overruns, foremen can initiate strategies to run more productive jobsites or improve safety, while executives get the information they require to mitigate bigger business risks and drive future market growth.
Digital Workflows and Collaboration Tools
Transitioning manual and paper-based business processes to digital workflows is critical for commercial contractors. The massive amounts of overhead costs associated with AP (accounts payable) approvals and payrolls have been reduced by ERPs in recent years but digital transformation stretches well beyond that single area of accounting. Change orders, job costs, collections, and invoicing are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what can be positively impacted by automation and electronic resource planning solutions.
Digital innovation improves productivity and enhances top and bottomline dollars. To ensure that projects meet clients’ time, budget, and quality requirements, and are delivered with the highest standards of safety and service, jobsite teams, owners, and stakeholders need to collaborate in realtime and make changes accordingly. With construction ERP technology, everyone is assured to be on the right track and the same page.
Cloud-based construction-specific software eliminates repetitive tasks while ensuring both flexibility and security for contractors to collaborate whenever and however they want. Mobile and cloud-based technologies stretch and streamline essential business processes and make teams even more collaborative and productive. Digital workflows empower every end user to make a difference and drive greater results as well as anticipate or predict future outcomes.
As if the state of the construction industry itself wasn’t reason enough, the COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the need to step up technology deployments that facilitate and support remote work and collaboration. In preparation for the new normal or next worldwide challenge, digital tools can be catalysts for contractors and managers to plan for the future. Change should be taken advantage of and be embraced rather than potentially backslide into antiquated ways of doing business.
All construction companies should look to accelerate their results by embracing the digital transformation to drive their business to new heights. Today, contractors can tap into greater automation and innovation, in response to the labor inefficiencies or shortages, and connect all people and disciplines for smarter, faster, and more profitable construction.
Michael Bihlmeier, president, Computer Guidance Corp., is responsible for its operations. In this role, he unites all business functions in delivering innovative solutions to the market, while engaging in the creation and maintenance of customer relationships.