Enterprise resource planning, or ERP solutions, can help your architecture or engineering firm improve its business operations by adding productivity and insights for project management, accounting, human resources, supply chain management, finance, and more.
What is an ERP Solution?
An ERP is software designed to integrate and align the separate pieces of your business operations. It helps streamline your processes and make crucial, cross-departmental data visible from one location. By standardizing and unifying different business functions, you can automate various complex tasks using one system. ERP solution technology enables your firm to do more with fewer resources so that your team, no matter how small, works more productively.
It also becomes more straightforward to collaborate when using an ERP because it gives everyone access to the same real-time data. So, activity happening in different divisions of your firm becomes available to everyone. It’s frictionless to obtain the information and analytics you need, as ERPs set you up to easily see accurate business reporting.
Firms of all sizes can benefit from adopting an ERP to manage their day-to-day activity because it provides a single source of truth, meaning the data you need for logistics, finance, production planning, and more operate from a centralized platform. You can buy ERP software with a cloud subscription model, better known as Software as a Service (SaaS), or a licensing model, also known as on-premise.
Cloud ERP vs. On-premise ERP
Cloud ERP is software hosted in the cloud and used via internet connection as a service you pay to use. With cloud ERP, your provider handles security upgrades and maintenance. Cloud-based ERP is more popular than on-premise ERP due to its affordability, scalability potential, integration powers, and greater accessibility.
On-premise ERP is a more traditional software model. It’s all in-house — installed locally on your servers and the maintenance is left up to you. The advantage is that you have total ownership and customization, but the downsides are that you need to maintain your system over time, requiring continuous investment to update. It’s yet another thing for you to manage, which may be why this type of ERP deployment is becoming less common.
The right choice for you depends on your desired customization, accessibility, budget, and level of control. For reference, 62.7% of organizations choose cloud-based ERP software over an on-premise system.
What does an ERP Do?
An ERP suite uses integrated modules that work together within one system. Each module focuses on a specific business application, such as sales, order management, accounting, HR, or finance. Depending on the system you choose, your firm can start with only the modules it needs now, then add modules as you expand.
Think of your ERP as the most efficient way to connect different functions of your business and keep them in communication seamlessly. Without it, each department would need its own system built for its exact task, leading to out-of-date information, lack of organization, and hours of time spent navigating various interfaces.
ERP systems provide transparency and cohesion into your business lifecycle by tracking all aspects of planning, production, tracking, financials, and administrative work. Your ERP solution software offers a centralized data repository that gathers analytics and generates reports in seconds, without needing an employee to do it and risking human error. When staff across departments can access crucial information that might affect their upcoming work, they can pivot accordingly to remain on track.
The automation and digitization created through ERP systems can help your company grow over time. For your finance and accounting teams, it’s easier to track general ledger, accounts payable and receivable, budgets, generate reports, and identify and avoid financial risk. Other ERP functions include HR (e.g., payroll, time tracking, hiring, and workforce analytics), sales, customer management, purchase orders, and supply chain demand planning.
How Does an ERP Solution Help?
Having an ERP solution is an incredible resource with high ROI, especially for companies that manage projects with several moving pieces and departments involved. Industries increasingly adopting ERP solution systems include engineering, architecture, legal, and accounting firms. It’s especially impactful for professional services companies that must keep their service delivery on schedule while closely eyeing profitability and resource allocation.
The growing adoption rate of ERP technology speaks for itself: This software market is on track to reach $78.40 billion by 2026! So, what’s driving this growth and motivating businesses to implement it? Most notably, an ERP can save you time and expense.
By switching to a single system to link multiple divisions, you eliminate the cost of redundant or unnecessary programs. If you’re using an ERP for payroll, why pay for separate payroll software? Now that your departments are running interconnected, optimized workflows, you’ll remove inefficiencies that demand too much team time or delay next steps. Working more efficiently allows you to finish projects sooner, identify costs to cut, and increase profits.
You’ll also see improvements to your data through ERP’s enhanced organization and elimination of human error. Once you gain the confidence of always-precise insights, it’s impossible to go back to using spreadsheets to calculate critical analytics.
The other benefits of adopting an ERP include:
- Projects stay on schedule
- Your business goes paperless
- Improved data security
- You have a tool that will scale as your firm evolves
- Transparency into workforce analytics, performance metrics, and financial reports
- Reduced manual effort and a boost in productivity
- Business agility that responds well to disruptions
- You improve service delivery to clients
BQE ERP Solutions
We built BQE CORE specifically for architecture and engineering firms, meant to centralize your project planning, time and expense, payroll, resources planning, accounting, and more. We set you up to organize vital business information and run a lean, more efficient company, even as you grow. When all of your business operations act as one, you see better results.
Spreadsheets are inadequate. You need technology that nixes inaccurate data, integration difficulties, high human error rates, and an over-reliance on email. Breaking down silos around your departments allows you to connect your data for deeper insights and synergy. Your team will work together more effectively than ever, and your project outcomes will reflect the positive change.
Start your CORE free trial today for improved performance and project management that helps you plan, budget, forecast, communicate, and report on all of your business functions. You’ll work smarter, faster, and cut costs along the way.
What Should I Look for When Buying ERP Software?
As you start shopping around for the best ERP software for your architecture or engineering firm, we recommend you first ask yourself these questions:
- Will this solve my problems?
- Was it designed with my industry in mind?
- Can this scale with my business?
- Is the maintenance worth it?
- Can I integrate my existing systems?
- Is this technology regularly updated?
- What are my competitors using?
- Do I really need this?
Reviewing this list of questions and being honest about their answers will save you from adopting the wrong solution, which could lead to cost overruns, incompatible technology, a difficult onboarding process, and plenty of frustration.
Depending on your industry, you might find an enterprise resource planning system with unique features to add efficiency to your organization, but there are some fundamental features to know:
- Common database
- Customized dashboards
- Built-in analytics and reporting
- Regulatory compliance tools
- Data visualization
- KPI tracking
- AI and machine learning
- Easy-to-use modules with consistent UI
- Seamless integration with third-party software
- Security and privacy
- Customer service, training, and help documentation
What if I Don’t Have an ERP Solution?
Without an ERP system, your business imposes limits on its own growth. The disconnected systems you have now are holding you back from operating at your optimal efficiency, keeping you from reaching your potential.
You’re also falling behind technologically. As technology changes, each department’s systems don’t work together well. Maybe you’ve already noticed that your project management system isn’t compatible with your recruiting and accounting platforms. Instead of forcing disparate systems to work together, an ERP system improves organization, enables your team to communicate, and helps you proactively mitigate issues.
As you delay adopting an ERP, your competitors pass you by, threatening to run you out of business. If your system cannot ensure project delivery that meets clients’ expectations, you’ll lose out to competitors.
Implementing an ERP for your architecture or engineering firm will also allow you to say goodbye to physical clutter, redundant data, lackluster data security, and outdated financial systems. You have to admit, it’s intriguing for any business owner.