Enterprise resource planning software is a powerful tool to help builders manage their workflows more efficiently. However, the last year has shown that businesses also need to be nimble.
Matt Collins, chief operating officer for Elliott Homes, said that in order to grow in today’s environment, builders have to be adaptable. “Adaptability has to be built into the company. It used to just be efficiency,” he said in an on-demand session during IBSx. “Efficiency fails when your inputs can vary widely or you don’t even know what they are.”
Sven Gustafson, president of Stonewood LLC, a custom home builder, acknowledged that when working with different people on different projects, ERPs help keep everyone on track.
“Bringing in new project managers, they all have a way that they’ve done things over the years and they want to repeat that. Technology allows us to create a framework to get all of our employees, all our project managers, everyone that’s interacting with our clients and with our trade partners to be doing things in the same way,” Gustafson.
Any two builders can construct a beautiful home for a client, but a key differentiator is who can make the process easier for the client.
“Our charge is to get our clients from hiring a builder to moving into their home with the fewest unpleasant surprises along the way as possible,” Gustafson said.
Construction ERP software also helps builders work more efficiently with trades. Subcontractors are contending with labor shortages and tight schedules, and it can be hard for builders to get their attention, Gustafson said.
“We’re all drawing from the same pool of subcontractors and suppliers, so our task is to better organize the same trades that all our competitors are using,” he said. “We feel that being more organized makes the trade partners more interested in working for us. When they show up on our jobsites, they know that because of the schedule they can see online, it’s going to be ready for them.”
He continued, “If we can be more efficient with trade partners’ time, if we can assure them that there’s not going to be an argument over how much they’re due, and change orders and purchase orders get executed on time and efficiently, we’re going to be the builder of choice.”
Collins agreed and added that “it comes down to communication and predictability.” Trades need to “know where they have to be, when they have to be there, what’s expected of them when they get there, and they also have the confidence that the person that proceeded them also had that same level of awareness,” he said.