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Where Did ERP Systems Go Wrong?

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Stuck in the Past

For decades, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems have dominated the construction industry. These blended systems that brought areas such as planning, purchasing, inventory, project management, finance, and others under one umbrella, disrupted the industry in the 1990’s, offering the first form of an “all-in-one” solution. This concept of being the “jack of all trades” was the core component this business model was founded upon, and it’s the component that’s kept these companies stuck in the past. 

Today, for many of these ERP systems, their financial services have been the primary focus of their business, and as such, they’ve become well-known in the industry for their robust accounting capabilities. But, with such a strong focus here, they’ve inevitably neglected the other services they offer. This means minimal product updates, little investment in innovation and development, fewer staffing resources, and less focus on you, the user. 

By wearing too many hats and trying to fix the needs of many, they’ve lost the trust of their consumers. That necessary “you get me” feeling just isn’t there. Contractors are frustrated and fed up with the cumbersome project management tools ERP systems have left them with.  

From the get-go, the services provided by ERP solutions are overwhelming, their focus distracted, and their resources divided. These accounting-focused systems are not designed with project teams in mind. They are not tailored to the needs of the users with their boots on the ground. They are not focused on simplifying the daily project complexities experienced by industry professionals. 

Project management solutions built from accounting solutions are not built for people in the field. Get accounting out of your jobsite trailer.

What To Look For?

For most contractors, becoming slave to these accounting-driven systems has been almost unavoidable–it was the best of what the industry could offer at the time. But now you’re stuck. You’re stuck using these antiquated solutions that your team has grown comfortable with and the inefficiencies are deeply baked in with standard company process–some baked in so deep that it’s hard to identify that something is even wrong. 

So, how do you determine if your needs have taken a back seat? How do you know if your project management solution was built by an accounting system? You look for signs that show that the needs of your field team are not understood by your software vendor.  

Here are the six signs that your project management system doesn’t “get you”… 

  • “All-in-one” or “Average at many”?They don’t talk to you–the customer
  • Difficult to use
  • Unsupportive support
  • Collaboration is restricted
  • No mobile capabilities
  • No path for growth

1. They don’t talk to you–the customer

If you bought your project management system outside of your industry, you are at a disadvantage.  

When your project management solution is built by another industry, the product developers fundamentally misunderstand the business challenges and frustrations of your project team. You wouldn’t have your barber pour concrete–that’s not their specialty. They don’t understand what makes the project engine run smoothly.  

You need a project management solution developed by industry professionals, alongside industry professionals, for industry professionals. With a system that’s designed to prioritize solutions to your daily challenges, processes become streamlined and your business becomes more efficient. Efficiencies mean time savings and time savings mean increased profit margins. 

2. Difficult to Use

In an industry where time is money, the last thing you want to do is waste your hours trying to navigate a cumbersome tool that’s supposed to be enabling your efficiency. 

ERP systems are notorious for being cumbersome and outdated. In fact, these systems are so antiquated that the industry has nicknamed them “on-premise dinosaurs”. As a contractor, it’s difficult to remain competitive in today’s demanding market when you’re operating out of a prehistoric solution. It’s no secret that these solutions are frustrating and your project teams aren’t the only ones who know it. More and more, owners are awarding projects to GC’s who utilize industry-leading tools and practices–this means taking a look at your project management solution! They have an idea of which solutions enable project teams to perform better and which one’s create more obstacles. 

Don’t let your project management solution slow down your projects and prevent you from winning more work. 

Seek out solutions that prioritize ease of use. Look at software reviews from customers that highlight the easy usability and intuitive design. During your discovery process, include those who will be working daily in the tool. They will ensure that your new solution speaks to the needs and daily challenges of project teams and is something everyone would want to use. 

The more involved they feel and the more value they see in the tool, the easier it will be to roll out across the company.

3. Unsupportive Support

When was the last time you talked to your support representative or account manager? Do you even have one? If your answers to these questions made you concerned, good. That means you aren’t receiving the support you deserve, you know it, and it’s time to fix that. 

Because ERP systems are large companies with several business priorities, they have to outsource their customer support services. The majority of them have their support based outside of the United States. That means you’re talking to someone who’s hundreds of thousands of miles away from the product researchers, the developers, and from you–the customers they support. And ironically, they’ve probably never even stepped foot on a jobsite. What does this say about your ERP system’s prioritization of your needs? How can their support teams ever begin to understand your daily challenges when they are so disconnected from the solution? 

Your project management system’s ability to enable and support your project team is crucial to your business’ success. Don’t let them “half-ass” it. Define what exceptional support looks like to you and then go find it! Stop settling for solutions that don’t have your best interests in mind. 

The Tables are Turning…

And accounting is being scooted out of the construction project management driver’s seat. Operations teams are beginning to (rightfully) lead the charge and shift the expectations of products provided by the industry’s leading software solutions. 

By equipping yourself with the right questions and resources, you can become the expert for your company when it comes to taking on the construction software world. With hundreds of solutions out there trying to prove they are the perfect fit for you, it’s important that you come to the table with your own expectations and a clear understanding of what problems need to be solved. 

Take control of the field with a project management solution that’s developed by teams who prioritize and focus on the needs of field teams. Accounting can’t, shouldn’t, and no longer has to be, your project management system. 

With technology advancing faster than ever before, you shouldn’t have to deal with the headaches created by dinosaur solutions (they're just slowing you down!). Download this free eBook, "Where Did ERP Systems Go Wrong?", for a deep-dive into these six challenges plus find tips on what to look for in your next management solution so you can finally put an end to those software frustrations and gain back the advantage. Click here to download. 

If you liked this article, here are a few more you might enjoy: 

Turn Your Field Teams into Your Boots-on-the-Ground Accountants

 Your Accounting System Wasn't Built for the Field. It Can't be Your PM System. Why Your PM Solution and Accounting Software Need to Start Dating


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