Why ERP is not a construction management solution


General contractors work in a unique and highly specialized industry, and software tools built with other fields in mind aren’t necessarily appropriate when it comes to your construction business. We spoke with Wieland Corporation’s Amanda Canfield to learn how her experience led her to combine the strengths of her ERP with the strengths of her Procore construction management solution.

Wieland is “an experienced general contractor that’s done just about everything you can think of, from banks to warehouses to manufacturing to hotels; we’ve done it at least once before.” said Canfield. And she is as knowledgeable about the company and her GC needs as she has worked at Wieland for 23 years.

A few years ago, Wieland decided it had had enough of its ever-growing library of point solutions. They wanted an all-in-one solution.

“We were running a lot of different applications between our field team and our accounting team. That was the pain point for us, right? We wanted everyone to be in the same place. ” she recalled.

They researched their options and decided that an enterprise resource planning platform (ERP) was their best bet for “one platform, one source of truth.” Moving from a pile of point solutions to a heap of one solution seemed like an inevitable step. Mr. Canfield’s colleague said: “We jumped on board hoping they would figure it out.”

It worked for a while, and the administrative and accounting teams were satisfied with its general ledger and financial management capabilities. After all, that’s what ERP is designed to do. However, while ERP met our back-office needs, when we tried to use it as a full-fledged project management system, we quickly discovered that it fell short in four key ways. .

Business Fine in finance, failure in field

First, it was a simple issue of accessibility. ERP primarily operates as a desktop application and was designed to be used while sitting at a desk with a mouse and keyboard. But that’s no longer the way business is done. Mobile apps and remote access are essential for today’s fast-moving projects. Adapting that complex software to work with phones, tablets, and other field hardware with intermittent connectivity is a challenge. This is also reflected in our products.

If ERP users are required to sit in an office to find and use its many tools and resources, access to a company’s data and insights is severely limited. It’s a waste of time and effort when someone has to say “I’ll look it up when I get back to my desk” instead of pulling it up right away on their phone or tablet.

Licensing was also an issue. This ERP of his had a per-seat fee and, of course, he incurred that cost regardless of whether he used the platform or not.

This quickly became a problem because ERP is primarily built for back offices. While this is a financial management solution with the depth and sophistication that any team would appreciate, its field-ready tools are not as robust as his colleagues in the field have made clear.

“While this is a great program, it seemed to lack the familiarity that field staff needed to be more productive and efficient,” she said. “The big complaints were from our supervisors and field staff. They didn’t like that the roads weren’t smooth and easy to navigate. They were very frustrated with it. Ta.”

When the “all-in-one” solution was not enough, Wieland had to enhance it with many important solutions that it was supposed to replace.

“From an accounting perspective, [ERP] I was fine. But then we needed an app for planning, an app for field work orders, an app for expense reports, an app for timesheets, an app for this, an app for that,” she recalled. “Once we got in, people were ready to get out of the situation.”

Suddenly, the ERP user base became fragmented and adoption stalled as people became increasingly dissatisfied or switched to tools that worked better for them. And a big part of the problem was the lack of support and training beyond accounting staff.

“Right after the jump, they didn’t provide proper training,” Canfield said. “They didn’t provide any tutorials, or even if they did, it wasn’t easy to understand. We had a trainer come here for a day, but it was for the accounting staff, not the field staff. This is only 50% of the operation. Their role in the field is just as important, if not more important. Where would I be without them?”

At best, only half of the company was trained to use the software, making it nearly impossible for the organization to take advantage of it.

“We worked with the directors to see if there was anything we could do, if we could help them, and we were also able to go out there and sit down and work through this with them. . But how do you train people in the field if you’re not trained in how to teach? So we asked them for feedback and they were very honest,” she said. “Then the floodgates opened and we didn’t want to spend money on a program that no one would use because no one liked it or couldn’t reuse it.”

Business Powering your ERP with Procore

Finally, Wieland realized that ERP is primarily a financial tool, focusing too much on recording and analyzing the past and not enough on responding to the present and planning for the future. Whether the project was large or small, pre-contracted or finished, over or under budget, it was managed the same way.

Every project is different because construction is a business that moves through a constantly changing market. Costs and timelines vary, and expectations differ for different regions and construction categories. Change management and tools to directly identify and address day-to-day operations and troubleshooting are essential to running a construction business at peak efficiency.

Wieland had a two-year contract, but before the first year was over, he realized he needed something to enhance the deal rather than six different apps. After seeking feedback and considering the available options, he decided to implement Procore.

“We chose Procore and started on the field side with all the great elements: RFI, drawings, etc.,” says Canfield. “The expectation was that everyone would have access to the system, including myself and the project manager, but also the supervisors, and everyone would be able to see the signed change orders and drawings. It allows for more communication and fewer mistakes.”

They have enough licenses to keep the ERP software running in the back office, which people like to use, and use Procore to power it on the field and project management side.

Although ERP is an invaluable tool, it has proven to fall short of expectations for a true all-in-one solution. What surprised Canfield was the speed with which organizations adopted new software environments.

“What I didn’t expect was that everything happened so quickly,” Canfield said. “We decided to go for it and phase it in. We look at the field first, and once the field is satisfied, we move on to the financials. And the financials were phased in as well. Timelines for each. But it was completed so quickly that we brought everything forward. We were thinking, “What’s next?” Yes, I understand. What’s next? He doesn’t need 6 months to try this. Results can be seen in 1 to 2 months. We need to take the next step so we can continue to improve our processes. ”

Ultimately, Wieland Corporation found itself ahead of the curve in terms of time, effort, and budget.

“The time, money savings, and efficiencies you get with Procore are worth more than what you would spend on an ERP license. We still have it for our general ledger platform and everything else, but the license We were able to reduce it,” she said. “If it doesn’t need to be in ERP, it doesn’t need to be in ERP. If it can be done in Procore, it’s done in Procore.”

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