Using cloud ERP to minimize uncertainty in construction

Sep 09, 2021

Uncertainty is a fact of life with construction projects, which rely on the smooth orchestration of myriad contractors, materials and labor to reach completion on time and within budget.

Whether it’s a single-family home constructed for one owner, a small retail strip center built for a group of businesses or a large mixed-use commercial center, all of these projects rely on the right mix of planning, management and technology to reach the finish line.

With labor and material costs both rising right now, and with demand for new construction reaching new peaks, the need for enterprise business systems to support project complexity is increasing.

Struggling under the weight of disparate systems

Working in an industry that still relies heavily on manual processes, spreadsheets and paper, construction companies that implement enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms that are built for their unique needs can save money, reduce mistakes and create more successful project outcomes.

Many rely on QuickBooks for financial management and then augment it with third-party project management tools like Deltek and ICOMM for invoicing, and applications that can manage AIA billing (a standardized system created by the American Institute of Architects for submitting work-related paperwork to architects).

“A lot of construction companies today are using several different solutions that are just bolted together,” said Rob Marchello, NetSuite consulting manager at RSM US LLP. RSM is a NetSuite solution provider partner, NetSuite Alliance partner and business process outsourcing partner. “With no common bond between their project management, invoicing and other pieces of software, their technology approaches are pretty fragmented and inefficient.”

Built out over time, these fragmented software approaches can create serious challenges as construction firms grow, move into new markets and take on more work. What may have sufficed when a company had just a few projects and a handful of subcontractors to manage, for instance, can quickly turn into a liability as that operation expands. Finance and accounting often absorb the brunt of these challenges, particularly when disparate solutions are used to manage billing, accounting, accounts payable and other important functions.

Making life easier for construction firms

RSM combines NetSuite with the fully native NetSuite application ProScope to create an enterprise solution that eliminates construction companies’ key technology pain points. Developed by Cooper Software, ProScope provides enhanced project-based functionality and offers greater control across the entire project life cycle.

NetSuite and ProScope also provide centralized project and resource management (i.e., rental equipment, subcontractors, etc.) that companies can use to create schedules for their teams, consultants and subcontractors at the individual project level. The combined solution also manages several core construction activities, including:

  • Change order management
  • Integration management with Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, Slack and other outside applications
  • AIA billing
  • Procurement
  • PDF quote designs
  • Shipping management

With more than 3,200 construction and real estate customers nationwide, RSM provides consulting, accounting, tax and audit services to help firms succeed. From these interactions, the RSM team receives firsthand information about current trends, industry forecasts, challenges and other insights that help us deliver a high level of support and insight to companies operating in the construction industry.