Construction businesses have to meet urgent needs for new housing, commercial and government facilities, and public infrastructures. Coming out of the pandemic, construction firms face high expectations from clients, increased costs and shortages of critical supplies, and a lack of skilled talent. The right business management technology can make it easier for construction companies to run and grow a profitable, efficient, competitive business. In a series of five blog posts, we take a closer look at construction industry conditions and how an ERP software solution delivered by Sikich can help companies thrive. Recently, we discussed important construction industry trends, the key capabilities that need to be in a construction software system, and the Sikich construction solution. Now we will dive more deeply into how we designed our construction ERP to help you run a profitable business and make the right decisions to move it forward.
Accomplishing more with the Microsoft Power PlatformMicrosoft Power BI, mentioned in our previous post, is popular, but it’s not the only element of the Microsoft Power Platform you might find useful. Some construction companies we know rely on Microsoft Power Apps to bring additional capabilities to their Business Central ERP. You can use templates and simple commands to create apps, even comprising artificial intelligence (AI) components, without involving specialized developer talent. Your Sikich consultants can help you work with Power Apps to extend and refine Business Central. With this solution, you can drive the value of your ERP system all the way out to job sites and other remote locations. Many of our clients have used Power Apps to bring Business Central capabilities and data to the Android and Google smartphones of project managers and business executives. Some construction firms use Microsoft Power Automate to create automatic, consistent workflows, for example, to ensure quote approvals by the right people, notify executives of changes in companywide project performance, or highlight a regulatory compliance concern. You can also create chatbots for employees and clients with Microsoft Power Virtual Agents to help them figure out processes or resolve questions promptly, so they can move on with their day.
Adding production-ready construction software featuresTo the rich functionality you get with Business Central and the other Microsoft technologies, Sikich adds one other, important element to close most remaining capabilities gaps for construction firms. We found a solution that can seamlessly integrate to make Business Central more powerful, while still keeping the system intuitive and adaptable to the priorities of technology users in a construction company. It’s called ProjectPro, developed specifically for Business Central by NetSmartz, a Microsoft partner with more than 20 years of experience and success serving the construction industry. ProjectPro consists of several software modules that support important activities in your construction business:
- Job Costing
- Job Purchasing/Payables
- Job Progress Billings/Time & Materials
- Project Management
- Subcontract Management
- Payroll Integration
- Job Quoting
- Job Materials Planning
- Job Scheduler
- Service Scheduler
What you can accomplish with construction-optimized softwareFrom the company offices to your job sites, ProjectPro helps make your business more profitable, controlled, and productive. Here are some examples of what many clients find beneficial in the ProjectPro component of HEADSTART for Construction:
- Accurate estimating and job quoting based on job segments or tasks. You can create reusable job templates with detailed planning lines, define the scope of work to perform a proposed job, and run the job in your construction software as soon as you record the approval of the quote.
- Flexible, hierarchical job cost class structure for master jobs, sub-jobs, change orders, and work orders. You can establish cost categories for labor, materials, equipment, burdened pay rates, and other conditions. Your job tasks can be as you define them or division codes of the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI).
- Management of contracts and change orders with multiple, billable line items based on percentages, units, or lump sum values. You can create, manage, and update contracts and change orders for client owners, general contractors, architects, and engineers.
- Use standardized practices and document formats developed by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) to progress-bill clients and provide them with project reports. The solution also allows you to set up and track union types, prevailing wages, and work class codes to support billing or in the context of business reporting, compliance, or workforce management.
- You use one, consolidated resource to document all project elements, including the requirements, business rules, and operational conditions for commercial and government contracts, including union jobs, prevailing wages, and requirements for experienced or more entry-level workers and trades. Once you gather all the information that matters, you can set up a new job within a handful of clicks.
- You can efficiently set up subcontracts for budgeted items on a job, assigning planning lines to subcontracts and attaching the subcontracts to your vendors of materials or services. To ensure compliant, best practice-based subcontractor management, you can track certificates of insurance and lien releases in the solution and also provide lien release waiver forms.
Taking the next stepWhen you decide it’s time to find out how modern ERP technology and deep industry expertise can help you run a successful, profitable construction business, here are some next steps:
- Contact Sikich for an exploratory conversation.
- See how Sikich solutions and services support construction businesses.
- Read the previous and following posts in this series:
- Starting over: A new beginning for the construction industry
- Designing a solution: What construction companies need from technology
- Racing toward results: A business management software foundation for construction firms
- Getting it built: working with Sikich to deploy your cloud construction software