Construction ERP is often seen as a tool to manage present projects, but why not harness these tools to achieve future growth?
Most people tend to think of ERP as a management and control tool; I am in that camp too. Construction ERP helps us manage subcontractor payments. It helps keep the project moving toward on-time completion. It allows better control over accepted and pending change orders. But why stop there? We can also use the same ERP to grow our construction business.
1. Supplier relationship management (SRM)
Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) is one such ERP component. Sending simple feedback to a subcontractor goes a long way toward keeping that relationship strong. The same feedback can be sent to material suppliers too. And don’t forget the crane operator—he might be the first to learn of a new project where you might get in on the ground floor ahead of any competition.
We all prefer to do business with people we like and trust. Make sure subs and suppliers like and trust you by ensuring communication channels are open and active. Report on their performance. Remember their anniversary in business. Use construction ERP to maintain a positive dialogue with suppliers and your supply-demand balance will be easier to maintain.
2. Customer relationship management (CRM)
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is another useful construction ERP feature for construction companies. CRM is generally used when preparing new quotes, but it can also be used to grow your business. If your ERP CRM contains a sales pipeline, you can manage each client or project according to their proximity to a closed deal.
You can also use ERP CRM modules to maintain contact with owners and developers just as we discussed for suppliers above. Let them know of your successes, wherever they are. Let them know of business developments and new techniques your team is comfortable with. Tell them when your company or your project managers have earned a new certification. Congratulate them on their successes too—even if you were not a part of those projects. Make sure you know of their plans for any future construction. Again, maintaining this dialogue will pay dividends when the bidding process begins.
3. Project management (PM)
You already use project management (PM) to track milestones. Now you can use it to generate billings for progress payments. ERP project management modules helps you avoid problems on the job. Think back to any job in the past. There were times when you missed an opportunity to complete work ahead of schedule. You missed opportunities to avoid some costs that were in the original bid. These opportunities will present themselves again in the future, and an ERP which produces comprehensive schedules, daily logs and documentation can help you capitalize on all of them.
All your construction ERP modules have two edges. Keep both of these edges sharp, and use them to manage your business today and grow it for tomorrow.