When should you make the switch from your current software to a more robust ERP solution? Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software automates manual tasks, improves reporting, and helps businesses manage their daily operations more efficiently.
For general contractors who have outgrown QuickBooks, spreadsheets and inflexible legacy systems, the next step is to invest in a modern, cloud-based scalable ERP solution. But which ERP should you choose?
Not all software solutions live up to their promises. To avoid wasting time and money, find a solution that can handle your advanced reporting and management needs while being flexible enough to scale with your business.
What General Contractors Should Expect From Your ERP
All ERP solutions should include the basics, such as:
- General Ledger
- Accounts Receivable
- Accounts Payable
- Project Estimating
- Budgeting and Costing
- Process Workflows
- Reporting and KPIs
For general contractors, your ERP should streamline and improve operations, from financial reporting to sub-contractor management and beyond.
Your ERP should make managing the subcontractors on your job sites simpler. For example, Business Central connects systems in your office to devices on-site, giving you real-time visibility into project progress and timelines. If something changes the scope of your project, you can quickly notify your entire organization. With Business Central, you can ensure your accountants, materials managers and on-site teams are always up-to-date.
Business Central also makes it easier to organize subcontractor-related paperwork, including payment, insurance requirements, lien documents, and work orders. In some cases, one subcontractor may serve several roles (such as HVAC and electrical). Because of this, your ERP should also be able to manage multiple purchase orders and timelines for the same contractor.
Business Central makes it easy to create purpose-built solutions for your business. By working with a technology partner or independent software vendor, you can build automated workflows and mobile applications to integrate into your broader tech stack. On the other hand, if you have tech-savvy employees on your team, you can use the PowerApps platform to create in-house custom solutions. With Microsoft’s vast software ecosystem and flexible infrastructure, you can implement the essentials today and make improvements over time.
Most general contractors don’t carry inventory. That said, however, with supply chain disruptions over the last several years, a general contractor may consider purchasing certain commodity type of materials to help insulate themselves from unavailability or dramatic price fluctuation. If a decision such as this is made, then inventory management functionality and the ability to allocate it to jobs becomes important.
As such, inventory management is another essential ERP feature for these general contractors. If you have inventory on hand, you will need the ability to track and oversee stock availability, receipt schedules, distribution to job sites, and on-site consumption. Unfortunately, most small, industry-specific ERP solutions don’t have the power to handle the various aspects of inventory management. Instead, you will need a solution like Business Central.
For general contractors managing multiple job sites and dozens of subcontractors, scheduling is critical. With Business Central, you can connect Outlook and Microsoft Teams to update your calendar automatically. This feature eliminates the need to input dates into your calendar manually.
In addition, help you visualize subcontractor progress, so you can coordinate when the next trade can begin working. With a premier scheduling option, you can ensure everything moves forward in the correct order.
QuickBooks and boutique ERP solutions may be fine for a while, but eventually, you will need a more powerful way to manage payroll, accounting and loan obligations. Business Central improves reporting and automates a great deal of manual data entry – making it easier to keep track of your finances. With best-in-class auditing features, leading ERP solutions also help general contractors attract investors by ensuring a robust financial management is in place.
Construction Industry-Specific ERPs vs. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central
Many general contractors use QuickBooks to manage their business’s finances and reporting. However, as their operations grow, many business owners realize they need a more robust suite of software features to handle the increasing number of contracts, projects, and subcontractors.
Private equity firms and investors prefer companies they work with to leverage true ERP systems that can pass rigorous audit requirements. Migrating to a modern ERP can be extremely helpful if you are trying to be acquired or gain additional financial backing. Unlike older or outdated solutions, sophisticated ERP solutions ensure your accounting and financial reporting follows best practices.
Several industry-specific ERPs exist on the market. Most tout the fact that they are made specifically for construction as a leading differentiator. However, while most of these offer basic features like accounting, purchasing, field management, and reporting, they fall short in other vital areas.
With Sikich’s HEADSTART for Construction, built on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, you get a solution built for your industry. HEADSTART for Construction integrates critical billings, estimating, documents, project management, labor and financial information into one place. That makes it easier to manage budgets, schedules, field activities, customer relationships, and your bottom line.
HEADSTART for Construction handles everything from finances to job quoting, job cost, subcontract management, resource management, progress billing, lien management, contracts and project management in a single, cloud-based system. Our HEADSTART methodology also connects with the wider Microsoft ecosystem, including Microsoft 365 and the Power Platform. It additionally provides the ability to integrate seamlessly with any industry-specific business application.
Contact one of our experts to learn more.