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In my previous blog, I outlined key trends facing engineering, construction & infrastructure organizations – digital transformation, Building Information Modelling (BIM) and the digital asset lifecycle model, embracing construction-integrated manufacturing and exploiting new service and facilities management revenues. The overall conclusion was that the non-integrated business systems and processes used by most companies today will simply not be good enough if a company is to compete going forward.

Change management – the crucial role of software

In the era of digital transformation, IT moves from being a transactional tool to a strategic enabler. According to Panorama Consulting, the average lifespan of an Enterprise Resource Planning deployment is 10 to 13 years—so being locked into an inflexible system, or set of systems, can leave engineering, construction and infrastructure organizations flat footed and watching on the side-lines as innovation passes them by.

Here are three key questions to ask when assessing your enterprise software support:

Is the vendor a sector specialist in construction enterprise resource planning (ERP) & enterprise asset management (EAM)?

Many enterprise software vendors offer a single platform of applications into almost any vertical industry. This approach often leads to significant strengths and weaknesses, a software solution designed to manage ERP in a typical manufacturing business is not fit for purpose when it comes to managing information flow across the construction and asset management phases of an asset’s life.

It’s important to establish the level of experience a vendor has in engineering, construction and infrastructure. No two businesses are the same, but industry know-how can go a long way. An experienced vendor may already have the answers to problems you’re struggling to overcome.

IFS works with industry leading engineering, construction and infrastructure companies including Clancy Docwra, Multiplex and VBMS, a subsidiary of construction corporation VolkerWessels. IFS has just been named among the “10 Best Construction Tech Solution Providers 2018” by the business reviewer Insight Success because of its role in modernizing the construction world through prominent software solutions.

Will the software deliver the agility to adapt to new business models?

The engineering, construction and infrastructure sectors are changing. Stats show Producer Price Index (PPI) Material Inputs construction costs (excluding labor) went up 4.2% in 2017. With increasing demand and uncertainty related to tariffs and international import rates, cost increases are unlikely to slow. Alongside this, labor shortages due to an aging workforce and the perceived unattractiveness of the industry has caused hourly wages to outstrip inflation in many countries. This is impacting both project budgets and timelines.

To meet these challenges and profit from them, construction companies are increasingly turning to digital technologies such as BIM, robotics, drones, laser scanning, artificial intelligence (AI), modular construction and 3D printing.

But these new technologies cannot be harnessed and generate revenue if company is held back by inflexible software. That is why IFS offers a comprehensive suite of business applications that are designed for—in some case even by—enterprises in the industry, with added capabilities such as project management for greater total business control, or manufacturing to streamline the transition to modular construction.

Can you view and analyze business performance by any dimension?

Adding new capabilities quickly can be the difference between survival and extinction, but engineering, construction and infrastructure organizations are structurally complex. Using the latest technologies in one area of the business is no good if you cannot track performance across the entire organization. When multiplied across different geographies with regional nuances, it becomes even harder to obtain consistency.

Using a single solution to act as a repository for all business data is the first step to getting a handle on reporting functions. Only then can these organizations gain the level of visibility required to improve project transparency and control. For example, accounting and finance teams can work more closely with project teams when IFS Applications is the central system. With the removal of manual processes such as Excel spreadsheets, there’s no area of the business lagging behind.

These are just some initial questions to ask when selecting enterprise software to manage change in engineering, construction and infrastructure. You can find more hard-hitting questions in this infographic.

Do you have questions or comments?

We’d love to hear them so please leave us a message below.

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