Specialty contractors have project-driven businesses that greatly benefit from the features offered in an integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution. Too often, small businesses try to reduce expenses by getting by with multiple spreadsheets and low-cost generic software. The only things “reduced” by such a solution are project efficiencies, new customers, and growth opportunities.
How can you make the most out of your transition to a cloud ERP?
Before we answer that important question, don’t overlook the benefits that cloud solutions offer. Review our previous blog that explains 5 Valuable Benefits of a Cloud Solution for Contractors. Once you agree that the cloud is the way to go for your business, you’ll need to know how to best select and implement an ERP system.
Here are some suggestions to reach that goal:
Look for flexibility and scalability.
A cloud ERP for specialty contractors should be able to handle workflows for the entire staff, from the field to the back office. The first step – before any product decisions are made – is to brainstorm all functions across teams that the solution must handle. Consider two scenarios:
1. Where the company is now and what functionality it needs to maintain (or actually improve) current processes; and
2. Based on objectives, what the system will have to handle as the company grows.
Don’t cut corners on security.
Many project-based systems, such as ERPs, are hosted on private clouds. Security is a high priority, and an important decision a business will have to make is whether it is practical to incur the additional expense of a private cloud solution or if a public or hybrid could will meet its needs. When making this choice, realize that public cloud solutions run a higher risk of a data breach or failure, which means that financial data can be compromised.
Chose a solution that can be customized for your industry.
Be wary of solutions that can be used “out of the box.” Every business is different, and a cloud ERP should work with its needs, not the other way around. Project-based and specialty contractors need a system that keeps up with industry compliance. They also need a specialized project management module, finance management, and supply chain management for inventory control, purchasing, and procurement. In addition, you’ll want to be able to integrate all of these function with your CRM, so that you can deliver the highest-quality service to your customers.
Consider the importance of mobility.
An ERP must support a broad range of communication and information devices. Today’s specialty contractors and construction industry workers use a myriad of devices and operating systems in a variety of locations. They will need access to ERP data without disruption.
The important take-away is that a significant amount of work needs to be done before a cloud ERP solution purchase is made. Planning due diligence will go a long way toward the success of your system development and implementation.