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Building for the future - why modern technology is mightier than pen and paper

Joel Hoffman Profile picture for user Joel Hoffman March 23, 2023
Summary:
Obviously, software is better than pen and paper, but in turn, legacy systems are inadequate for the construction industry. Joel Hoffman of Acumatica explores two examples that demonstrate why cloud-based ERP software offers capabilities unmatched by legacy systems.

Electronics Design Factory Office: Engineer Wearing Safety Vest Working on Computer, Developing Industrial Microchips. Manufacturing Processors. © Gorodenkoff - Shutterstock
(© Gorodenkoff - Shutterstock)

The global pandemic's economic conditions and lingering impacts have given the construction industry some serious challenges. Interest rates have soared, and inflationary pressures have considerably raised material prices. While demand for private housing has slowed, other areas of commercial construction have increased. However, the industry needs more labor to support that demand. Though there has been a rise in publicly funded infrastructural investments meant to spur the industry’s growth, the economic environment and labor market make it difficult to disburse and use the funds.

Facing all this, the construction industry, which has long prided itself on managing projects with pen and paper, has been forced to abandon its customary processes in favor of new technologies that can address new challenges. This response is turning tradition on its head.

The past few years' events have uncovered the cracks in the construction industry’s traditionally manual practices, revealing them to be outdated and error-prone. For instance, when construction teams coordinate projects and track deadlines by hand, they leave room for duplicate entries and costly mistakes. Inaccurate notes can lead to incorrect order placements, delayed timelines, and budget overages. And on top of everything else, adherence to industry rules and regulations requires comprehensive project management and attention to detail that pen-and-paper-based processes can’t provide.

Construction company leaders—working to navigate shifts in the industry while strengthening and growing their businesses—are in dire need of solutions that can truly support them. They need to implement digital-first strategies and achieve digital transformation. To make this a reality, construction companies are turning to powerful digital and cloud-based tools that improve their productivity, give them deeper insights into each project’s lifecycle, reduce errors, and jumpstart sustainable growth. They have the power to analyze data in real time, so they can make more informed decisions, easily adhere to industry requirements, and manage whatever new shifts tomorrow may bring.

For firms seeking business management technology that will empower their workforces and seamlessly connect every facet of their organizations, enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions are a good place to start. And ERP solutions that tap into the cloud's flexibility, security, and scalability are of great value to businesses looking for a competitive advantage in today’s construction industry.

Cloud-based ERP software offers capabilities unmatched by legacy systems, and they are uniquely able to solve the construction industry’s most pressing challenges. This includes seamlessly connecting project sites to the back office, generating early cost estimates, and streamlining regulatory compliance processes. With the real-time data, heightened insight, and improved workflows a cloud ERP system provides, employees are empowered to better manage their time, resources, and budgets—avoiding delays and overages and freeing them up for more strategic work.

The trend is clear. Construction business owners are increasingly moving away from traditional pen-and-paper practices and legacy software systems. They’re investing in cloud ERP software to modernize and automate mundane, time-consuming tasks, eliminate human error, and put their businesses on the fast track to sustainable success. In 2022, Acumatica Construction Edition had its best year ever—adding a record number of customers—and we’ve seen this digital transformation momentum across the construction industry.

For example, Alpha Insulation & Waterproofing Inc. once relied on a legacy business management system that often crashed mid-use, which led to time-consuming manual data entry and bottlenecked productivity. By implementing cloud-based ERP software, the company gained instant access to accurate, detailed data, shortened its work-in-progress calculation time from days to minutes, and gained a scalable platform to support its organic and acquisition-based growth. With the power of the cloud at their fingertips, Alpha’s leaders can see, for every project, a level of critical, underlying detail that was all but impossible to access before. They can also easily delegate tasks to the right employees, who now have all the data they need to do their jobs. Alpha has chosen a firm business management foundation, and instead of treading water, the company can focus on the value-added activities that matter most.

Phoenix Renovation and Restoration found itself in a similar situation. Its business processes were entirely paper based, meaning the company was manually tracking over 1,000 projects a year. And it is typical for 400 of those jobs to be open simultaneously. Automation was no longer a luxury; it was a desperate need. By switching to a cloud ERP solution, Phoenix Renovation gained a paperless approval process perfectly suited to its line of work—taking care of emergency renovations and repairs—performed mainly in the field and requires highly accurate record-keeping for insurance claims. The company’s relationships with its customers were also improved because, through the ERP system’s mobile technology, their workers in the field can access real-time customer data, invoices, payment details, and more from any device with a web browser. Phoenix Renovation can also now keep better track of its 300+ active vendors—making sure those vendors remain compliant with industry standards and regulations. By choosing cloud ERP, Phoenix Renovation traded chaos for clarity and connection.

The construction industry stands on the brink of totally transforming how it manages projects, runs business operations, and overcomes challenges. Cloud ERP technology enables firms of all sizes to better manage intricate, large-scale tasks at a level of speed, agility, and scalability that is simply impossible with pen and paper or legacy software. It’s time for the construction industry to switch from gut feelings to data-driven decisions, from time wasted to time well managed, from manual errors to real-time automation, and from pen and paper to cloud ERP.

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