With 2016 right around the corner, AEC firms across the country are focused on their annual strategic planning and preparing to implement their plans in the new year. This is the perfect time to take stock of your technology strategy and make sure it is aligned with your plan to enable growth and provide your business with a competitive advantage. The right technology choices can make a significant impact on the success or failure of all your planning efforts – from creating and improving efficiencies and reducing costs to enabling major business initiatives and improving customer and partner relationships.
In environments without enabling technologies, management has to rely on paper-based or outdated systems to provide information. Analysts from Forrester and Gartner both estimate that upkeep on outdated systems that are not tailored to your business can range from 50% to more than 90% of a typical IT budget – leaving only a fraction of your budget for upgrading to systems that better meet your business needs. These legacy systems are used primarily for monitoring and reporting – far from the capabilities of the enabling technologies that are available today.
For most companies, the following solutions are considered priority enabling technologies:
- Central data repository — A single transparent view into operations across multiple locations means fewer teams are required to manage information; information flows more seamlessly through the business; and executives are able to make more effective better decisions;
- Enterprise application integration — Integrated data allows project managers, executive management and even your clients to get a big picture view of client relationships and company and team performance, while providing better productivity and less IT maintenance on multiple disconnected systems;
- Business process management — Internal workflow procedures can be created to help companies accomplish business critical tasks in a repeatable and error free manner;
- Collaboration — Between project teams, with clients, in the office and in the field – companies need the ability to connect their entire ecosystem through a singular collaboration network;
- Business intelligence — Companies are no longer suffering from a lack of data—they’re suffering from a lack of the right data. Business leaders need the right knowledge and insights to effectively define the strategic direction of the enterprise.
With these features in mind, you should make sure your technology plan is aligned with your business processes and key objectives of your strategic plan. You can accomplish this by:
Creating an ERP Strategy Road Map. Think through how an ERP solution can best enable your organization’s business processes and strategies – not just today, but in the future. ERP is expanding its traditional function as a firm’s primary data repository. Organizations today need data that is more usable, more time-sensitive, and more easily combined with additional information for a richer and more complete narrative about the health of the company that can be used as the basis for intelligent decision making.
Evaluating your ERP solution. Business growth, M&A activity, new business models, new markets and new client requirements all create demands on your business information systems. To make matters worse, many professional services focused ERP systems have failed to keep up with the changing needs of the consulting engineering market, lacking functionality to address construction management, asset management, procurement and other increasingly common production requirements of multi-discipline firms and integrated project delivery models. A new ERP system is not an insignificant investment, but in most cases, the pros of making a change will outweigh the cons of a system that no longer meets your needs.
Embracing the Cloud. Most engineers and project managers spend a great deal of time in the field during construction season. The ability to access and interact with your business information systems in a meaningful way while in remote locations is critical. As mobile becomes increasingly important in customer and employee interactions, mobile strategies should focus on usability based on mobile-centric solutions that address critical field processes. Cloud solutions have been a major enabler of mobility – offering flexibility, scalability, reduced costs, seamless extensions and easier maintenance.
Now more than ever, businesses need an advantage over the competition. Whether your focus is improving customer service or fine tuning your bottom line, aligning your technology with your strategic planning is a proactive way to bridge the gap between businesses as usual and your goals for growth.
Join Sopris Systems for our educational webinar on Best of Breed vs ERP strategy and learn more about the power of integration and how it can help your business optimize their productivity and profitability.