ERP for the construction industry

Auf Wiedersehen, Inefficiency – ERP for the construction industry

Who doesn’t love a night on the sofa in front of the TV? With online streaming services like Netflix and the DVD/Blu-ray box-sets a popular way to catch up on your favourite shows, I thought I’d revisit some classic TV with my ERP hat on. Today it’s a hard hat, because I’m going to look at ERP for the construction industry. At the same time I’ll revisit the popular comedy-drama about construction workers abroad; Auf Wiedersehen Pet.

That’s ERPin’ Alright

As the song from the closing credits said, working all day for a packet of pay, that’s livin’ alright!

And improving payments and cost management is just one aspect of a construction business that ERP can improve.

While Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) might have been seen as software more relevant to the manufacturing industry, much like the boys from the TV show, things have moved on. Rather than shipping off to Dusseldorf, ERP evolved into a solution for different industry sectors, including construction, allowing it to manage processes specific to the sector, as well as improving efficiencies and increasing growth.

Since we’re reminding ourselves of the boys from the show, we’ve taken the 5 best-known characters and compared each of them to a benefit of using an ERP system like Microsoft Dynamics NAV.

Dennis – Project Management


The leader of the ‘Magnificent Seven’, Dennis, like any good ERP solution, is the backbone of the group. He’s the consistent force that keeps everyone together and working hard.

Since there are so many stages involved in a construction project, it’s easy to lose track of how it’s progressing. As an integrated piece of software, ERP allows you to oversee a project from tender to final build, managing parts & labour, variations, billing, maintenance and more.

Every team needs its Dennis and Dynamics NAV can provide construction businesses with their very own super-efficient software equivalent.

Neville – Tracking costs


The family man of the team, Neville is under-the-thumb at home but a dependable worker, he even turned into a bit of an undercover spy in series 4.

Construction projects, by their very nature, are complicated undertakings with any number of different cost factors that need to be taken into consideration. ERP software like Microsoft Dynamics NAV is a reliable means of simplifying the tracking of costs. It’s like a trustworthy, no-nonsense team member who works hard to centralise information from different sources, allowing you to keep track of everything from retentions, estimated costs, actual costs and budgeted costs.

Having a Neville is invaluable, he’s the one constant aspect of a business that ensures you can monitor important information like costs, without having to worry about the data being incorrect.

Oz – Remote access


Oz is the wild card in the team. He starts off as a bit of a drunken lout, but by the show’s last series, he’s a responsible and mature team player.

Oz represents the trajectory that many construction businesses take when they first realise that they need an ERP solution. The chaos of a disorganised, inefficient reporting system eventually evolves into an effective solution that allows you to fully automate and streamline your business processes.

Ironically, Oz was prone to going AWOL and not staying on site. Unlike him, you don’t necessarily have to stay in one place in order to access relevant data or update project stats. ERP solutions with cloud deployment can give you a real-time view of the whole business wherever you are through mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

Barry – Business Intelligence


The bashful, boring Brummie of the team, Barry had a large vocabulary and tended to overthink things. Traits that didn’t necessarily benefit him on the building site, but are both useful if you’re an ERP solution!

When a construction project is up and running, it can be a complicated juggling act that requires a detailed understanding of every process that’s involved! An ERP solution like Microsoft Dynamics NAV can help you to manage these processes and give you the insight to control business decisions more effectively by managing schedules, aligning materials and assigning resources.

Barry may not be exciting, something that ERP probably couldn’t be accused of either, but just like the software he’s an integral part of a smooth-running construction project.

Bomber – Subcontracting


A gentle giant from the West Country, Bomber is the muscle-bound brickie who does the heavy lifting for the team. He’s the voice of reason who likes to go with the flow.

Subcontractors will very often add a bit of weight to a construction project, also adding an extra layer of cost management. While this can complicate the process, ERP software can provide a clearer understanding of costs relating to vendors, sub-contractors, suppliers, plant hire, etc.

The Bombers of this world add a bit of extra muscle to help a project run smoother, and the right software to manage the costs that relate to them can ensure that a project will also run on time and on budget.

Auf Wiedersehen, Inefficiency. Hello Productivity

Because ERP software like Microsoft Dynamics NAV has been adapted with industry specific solutions, they can meet the particular needs of the construction sector, providing measurable benefits to the business and its bottom line, including;

  • Financial management and allocation of cash
  • Streamlining of business processes and operations
  • Awareness of labour, materials, and plant hire on site
  • Better communication between people and departments
  • Tracking of cost comparisons for Budget v Committed v Actual
  • All information in one system gives better visibility of projects
  • Compliance with HMRC for sub-contractor costs

You might recognise a Dennis, Neville, Oz, Barry or Bomber in your construction business, but the right ERP solution can bring all of their strengths to your business, without any of the drama that you might have seen on the telly.

So you can finally say auf-wiedersehen to inefficiency and hello to a productive, streamlined construction process.

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Written by Mark Blackmore, Head of Telemarketing at ERP Central, part of the QBS Group