Building a new IT foundation for the construction industry

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Building a new IT foundation for the construction industry

A construction company, an engineer-to-order manufacturer and a professional services organisation may seem like very different businesses on the surface, but as project-centric organisations, they share the same fundamental driver of their success – the ability to win, plan, manage and deliver timely, profitable projects.

Turning great customer wins into bottom-line results and satisfied customers takes coordination, collaboration, and insight across every aspect of the end-to-end business, relying on faultless management of both operational processes and project management processes.

So how can construction businesses get ahead, and stay ahead, in an industry that has traditionally been slow to optimise and mobilise their IT landscapes to break down operational boundaries and remove information silos?

Men at work – expect delays

It’s hard to imagine a project that is more complex and fragile than a large construction job. The path from initial estimate and quote to final approval and delivery is long and littered with potential pitfalls and bottlenecks. The critical components of the project itself – including resources and skill-sets, physical materials and costs – need to be orchestrated across the foundational operational processes of the business, such as finance, HR, sales, procurement, supply chain, logistics, project management, quality assurance and legal.

Typically, the interface between daily project management and business operations extends across multiple, disparate IT systems, and the consolidation of information across these systems is only possible with a lot of repetitive, manual work and some rather hefty Excel spreadsheets.

At best, this manual process is time-intensive and error-prone. At worst, the lack of real-time insight into the status of each moving part and variable that make up the project can mean that the process can go off the rails before the project team is even aware that there is an issue. The result can be missed deadlines, reduced profitability and dissatisfied customers. Not to mention stressed and frustrated employees.

Connecting operations and project management

This is where Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project Operations can be a game-changer. Connecting the entire business in one cloud-based solution enables a free flow of business and project information across departments and functions and promotes a new level of collaboration and knowledge sharing across extended project teams.

The effect of implementing a truly “joined-up” solution that is designed specifically for project-based companies will be seen and experienced across every area of the business that plays a role in the complex and large-scale orchestration challenge that is at the heart of modern construction.

Joined-up systems enable an alignment of daily activities and processes with operational practices and corporate goals. This, in turn, gives each employee a shared baseline from which to collaborate, share knowledge and leverage skill sets.

With IT and collaboration barriers removed, a solution such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project Operations can enable significant improvements in the way construction companies handle the daily task of monitoring, managing and delivering on project expectations. Improvements that can be seen and felt in the business every day.

Four real-world benefits you can expect to see every day

  • More flexible and intuitive project management – When your planning is based on accurate and actionable project information from across the organisation and is documented and surfaced through familiar Microsoft Project capabilities and visualisations, then project managers can spend less time building plans and more time on ensuring that projects are running smoothly and on keeping the whole business in the loop.
  • More effective and satisfied employees – Scheduling the right people with the right skills at the right time will help you to avoid classic workload issues and to get the most from your project teams. Add simplified processes for time tracking and expense management and reimbursement, and you have a great baseline for optimising resource usage and for finding and keeping the best talent in the industry.
  • A more predictable and healthier bottom line – With more accurate, experience-based estimating, quoting and forecasting, more effective use of materials and resources, and more informed and compliant project accounting, your project profitability will reflect every cost you have saved and deadline you have nailed.
  • Improved collaboration and insight – When everyone has the information they need to make data-driven decisions on the job and an organisation-wide collaboration platform – such as Microsoft Teams – to share and socialise that information, then each new decision can be based on experience from previous engagements and can be aligned to support business goals and changing market demands.

Conclusion

In the ultra-competitive and dynamic world of construction, success is dependent on the ability to react quickly to changing industry, economic, legislative and cultural factors. Retaining and building on this success relies on the ability to consistently make business decisions that are not only sound, but also more insightful than your competitors.

In an industry where fortunes can be made and lost based on the success of a few key projects, it is essential that the IT systems that are deployed by construction companies are more like the final brick and mortar solutions they deliver for their customers – practical, accessible and built to last.

 

Author: Paul Fryer, Construction Industry Account Executive, DXC Technology UK and Ireland

Author: 
DXC Technology

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