Adhering to deadlines in a large-scale construction project is as essential as working within the budget. Every team working on a full-scale construction project, either public or private, knows the importance of completing and handing over the site on time. Anyone operating in the construction industry can vouch for the high pressure around sticking to the deadlines and minding the budget. None of the involved parties from builders, architects, labour, to management appreciate delays. But more often than not, unforeseen circumstances arise and mess with the deadlines.
This is where the combination of ERP and BIM can play a role. If optimally used, construction companies can save on time and money by putting the project back on track with the help of ERP and BIM.
What is ERP?
In our context, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is business solution software that maps the various processes and workflows in the project, lists tasks and assigns responsibilities, and allows greater visibility and trackability at all times. In essence, it provides powerful analytics using data from various construction processes.
It takes an army of people to make a successful enterprise and the construction industry is no different. Construction ERP integrates diverse software systems used by various teams into one comprehensive solution by pulling together all the relevant information and provides the construction/project managers with a set of insights and tools for driving the efficient execution of the project.
In this perspective, the success of a construction project lies in efficient project planning and accurate data management. This can be achieved by integrating BIM models and the ERP management solution.
Benefits of Integrating BIM and ERP
The world is increasingly shifting towards the digital age and it’s clear that technology is going to play a critical role in the success of every industry, including construction. The companies that utilize technology to its optimum level will survive and thrive. Of course, this suggests that the traditional ways of working cannot find solutions for issues arising in the technological age. One of the biggest obstacles in this digital age is the management of the humongous volume and variety of data created at every step of a construction project.
As you become dependent on digital means to drive efficiency then questions about data become important to consider. Is the data accurate? Is it relevant? Is it current? Is it useful to deliver insights? Are those insights actionable? What is the impact of those actions? And so on.
Integrating BIM and ERP allows integration of actions and controls through effective communication of information that is made available to everyone from a central location. Always-on access to updated data will enable managers to get transparency into the real state of the project and then assist with making profitable business decisions.
Of course, there’s much more to ERP and BIM integration than just collating data. Let’s look at the other crucial benefits of integrating ERP and BIM in a construction project:
1. Financial Management
Contractual work is the norm in the construction industry. Tender bids are issued for large-scale projects. Accurate estimates of material and labour are key in both situations. The BIM + ERP combo can be used to derive accurate estimations for every item in the BOM and for the effort involved in delivering the project too. These calculations are more precise and accurate. This helps achieve more profitable, predictable project resource planning.
2. Enabling Better Performance
Communication is an essential factor in deciding the success of a construction project. The integration of BIM and ERP provides a centralized source of information for every person working on the project. It feeds into defined workflows so that the right people get the right info when needed. The updates are made and recorded in real-time, thereby eradicating errors due to the time lag in communication. What if scenarios can be analysed quickly along with its implication downstream This helps the people and teams deliver better and be accountable for their efforts.
3. Avoiding contractual conflicts
The solution helps in avoiding contractual conflicts with the client. It does this by creating a baseline estimate and then keeping track of inventory, raw material requirement, workforce, finances, and budgets of the project against the estimates. The meticulous analysis of the construction facets leaves little to no room for misunderstanding and helps drive more timely interventions if deviations become inevitable.
4. Streamlining data across projects
Handling multiple projects or multiple facets of a single project at a given time is bound to create confusion in communicating information and instruction within the organization. Going through data for numerous projects on excel sheets and various other software amongst different departments is a cumbersome task. The BIM + ERP solution streamlines this chaos into one centralized source that is accessible for every employee of the organization. It helps break down the chaos into smaller, more manageable tasks, and allows individuals and teams to address them better.
5. Increased efficiency and productivity
A centralized source of information for everything from cost estimations, inventory management, human resources, project management to facility operational management helps to increase the efficiency of the project. Provisioning resources based on these accurate estimates ensures that there is less downtime due to material or resource unavailability.
It's fair to say that better planning is the backbone of more efficient execution in a construction project. From that standpoint, the future of the construction industry may lie in the integration of BIM and ERP-driven business strategies. Such seamless integration of BIM and ERP may well help drive higher ROI for the projects undertaken by a construction company.