6 Growing Trends in Construction ERP Software

He's getting it all figured out.
Use ERP software in the field. Colin Anderson // Getty Images

Construction software has a tendency to evolve along with the greater world of enterprise information technology, with technology leaders within the sector using their savvy to interpret trends in ways that benefit the unique goals of the construction industry.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions are among the most significant progress benchmarks in terms of developments within the realm of software; they play a vital role in tech strategy of virtually every construction firm.

ERP systems serve to also reveal an organizations' technological savvy, since smaller trends in IT are quite often reflected in the deployment of the software.

It is only through a continuous process of evaluating and revamping that the average construction firm can achieve a competitive advantage with ERP. The process includes understanding the field advancements that have the greatest impact. The following are six trends that are making that impact throughout the ERP environment. Read on to discover how contractors and owners can use each of them to gain a competitive edge.

1. Channels for Collaboration: Construction operations are growing more complex. They rely on a broader variety of units to function properly. ERP has to be readily accessible by a wide range of end users both within as well as outside the organization. Contractors routinely handle several clients, projects, and subcontractors at one time, making it necessary for ERP to function as both a channel for collaborating as well as maintaining and increasing productivity.

IT departments should be assessing deployments to ensure that consistent and smooth communication is maintained between teams.

2. Predictive Capability: ERP software is one of the primary tools for making financial decisions. It offers analytics that provide invaluable predictive insights. Next-generation platforms need to have the real-time ability to forecast inventory and materials needs while also providing insight into the weaknesses and strengths of the supply chain.

3. Mobile migration: Even now, many contractors are still not bringing a full set of ERP functions into the mobile environment, limiting the productivity and flexibility of their staff members onsite. If mobile objectives are going to remain a priority going forward (and they will), future deployments will subsequently need to feature a broader range of capabilities.

The types of devices that need to sync with ERP systems are expanding. Wearable technology, for example, is currently in development, as are a large number of sensory add-ons to common equipment, all of which will employ ERP solutions for data collection and management.

4. Integration Across Platforms: Contractors need to begin integrating their tools for resource planning with other software solutions to ensure that data flows seamlessly between domains. Breaking down barriers between applications is a critical factor for success for all construction firms.

5. Greater Building Information Modeling (BIM) functionality: Over 80 percent of all construction firms have one form of a BIM system or another, according to a 2014 Building Design Construction BIM survey. These components are proving to be critical to their overall projects because they provide quality control and guidance in real time.

Many deployments, however, remain underpowered, which leaves much to be desired in the realm of enabling ERP functionality.

The BIM platforms of the future will be capable of delivering insights that include both cost and scheduling functions, which will add new levels of control where they are needed most.

6. Future-proofing: Internal IT teams alone will not be able to adequately navigate business leaders toward success in ERP, especially when one considers the sheer number of developments they need to contend with at any given time. The best systems will have to evolve using learning functionality that optimizes efficiency when possible.