- Software development
- How to Build an ERP for Construction?
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Are you wondering how to build an ERP for construction?
The construction management software market is expected to reach USD 6.5208 billion by 2028. The market is split between cloud-based and on-premises enterprise resource planning software. The types of market users include contractors, project managers, engineers, and builders.
The construction industry is one of the enterprises undergoing a massive digital transformation. Enterprise resource planning and management software help increase operational efficiency and accountability across construction firms.
While multiple commercial software solutions are available for the construction market, all may not work seamlessly with your specific construction business processes. You can develop custom ERP software that suits your business management and growth requirements.
Build an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for Construction Businesses
Construction ERP software integrates various departments and relevant people, including onsite crew, contractors, and other stakeholders. The real-time exchange of information via a centralized database helps maintain data integrity.
You will go through the following steps to develop the best ERP software for construction.
Develop a Project Plan
The first step is to draft a project plan that includes your project goals and objectives. For this, you need to conduct a detailed requirements analysis across your enterprise and find out how an ERP will help you reach your business objectives.
Your project scope would help you decide on the functionalities you want to achieve in your ERP system. Usually, an ERP for construction has the following key features:
Project Management: This module helps connect your project managers and team members. All the information is available instantly so every team member can stay in the loop.
Task assignment and progress tracking get easier. A study has shown that 77% of high-performance teams are using good project management software.
File Management: According to Mckinsey, a knowledge worker spends about 2.5 hours a day searching for information. A centralized data model helps with faster file access and sharing.
Access control tools allow customization of sharing options, granting controlled permissions to view and edit file data.
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Quality Management: The global quality management system market will be $20.66 billion by 2030 owing to a growing emphasis on internal quality policies and operating standards.
A real-time availability of site data via an ERP system helps in the remote monitoring of quality assurance and safety protocols. Organized risk management mitigates risks on time by tracking quality issues in one place.
Tender Document Management: This module helps with the distribution of tender documents, collection of information, etc. Subcontractors are 14% more likely to react to a tender when utilizing construction bidding software.
Data Analytics: Dashboards show real-time data on every construction site activity. Executives can identify risks and inefficiencies and devise better strategies using business intelligence. 27% of business executives claim their big data analytics initiatives to be profitable.
These are a few of the many features that you can include in your ERP for construction businesses. You would prepare systems requirements documents that convey functional and non-functional requirements to product developers.
Build a Team for ERP Development
You would require a competent team of professionals to build a construction ERP successfully. You need to hire the following roles:
- A project manager helps map out a project plan, decide on deliverables, assign tasks, manage developers, etc.
- A business analyst with experience in the construction industry helps understand the target market, explore business development opportunities in the construction market, and help include profitable features in the ERP product.
- A UI/UX designer designs an appealing and intuitive front end of your ERP application.
- A frontend developer codes the frontend components and layout of your ERP as per UI/UX designs.
- Backend developers develop core ERP features, design and develop data models, perform third-party integrations, implement a deployment plan, etc.
- An AI engineer develops advanced construction ERP features via machine learning, augmented reality, etc.
- A software tester conducts test cases and ensures the smooth and bug-free running of software.
You would also decide on a software development methodology and build your software development team accordingly.
For example, agile methodologies, like Scrum, are commonly used in software development due to better management of workload and faster software delivery to market.
86% of construction companies have reported optimized performance by using agile project management.
Scrum development is an iterative process that breaks down the development project into smaller iterations called sprints.
Each sprint delivers a deployable feature at the end. The scrum team is small and cross-functional. They work closely together and each developer is responsible for the successful completion of the software product.
You can read our article on what is a scrum development team for more information.
Provide the ERP Development Infrastructure
Provision of the software development infrastructure is the next step. You can either opt for an on-premise infrastructure or an on-cloud. Cloud computing technologies are popular today with around $500 billion in global market value.
Product owners get access to a range of development tools for their software developers at minimum startup costs. Moreover, cloud resources like servers, databases, etc., are easily scalable according to the business needs.
Managed cloud services like IBM Cloud accelerate the development process without any installation and configuration requirements of complex hardware and software on-premises.
For example, you can use IBM Cloud services for construction ERP development and get the advantage of the following features:
- You can use IBM Cloud Code Engine, a platform-as-a-service, to deploy your ERP application on a serverless container without any need to manage the underlying infrastructure.
- You can utilize multiple IBM Cloud integrations such as for a secure gateway, data migration, messaging, etc.
- You get access to data recovery and backup resources via IBM Cloud Backup across multiple data centers.
Design and Development of ERP for Construction
Now that your development team has all the required tools, they can start with the development of the ERP system for constructors.
You can develop ERP web and mobile applications. A mobile app enables users to utilize ERP features while on construction sites.
ERP Application Design
Your UI/UX designer would design application layouts. A low-fidelity mockup called wireframe describes the placement of UI components. A high-fidelity prototype gives a more detailed view of application design, including visual themes, the interaction of UI components, etc.
For mobile app design, your app designers will follow Material Design Guidelines and Human Interface Guidelines to design an interactive UI for Android and iOS apps respectively.
Your UI/UX designers can use tools like Sketch to create wireframes and prototypes. Sketch offers the following features to design an engaging software user interface:
- It is a great UI design tool for both mobile and web applications. Moreover, it is vector-based that allows designers to design in any size and scale.
- Sketch community offers a rich library of plugins like dynamic buttons, asset export, etc., that your designers can use.
- It has a built-in prototyping feature and also offers version control for collaborative design work.
ERP Frontend Development
Your developers would also use a frontend framework for faster development and better code maintainability. For example, developers can use React.js as a frontend framework for the following features:
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- Your developers can build high-performance applications with a faster virtual DOM feature.
- It is easy to integrate with other JS frameworks and libraries.
- It supports server-side rendering that speeds up a web application and gives a good user experience.
ERP Backend Development
Node.js allows developers to handle data updates from the front end and build scalable an application using event-driven nature.
Your developers can use Node.js frameworks such as Nest.js for backend development. Nest.js support enterprise-level application development and has large library support.
Moreover, your backend developers would design database models and implement data structures to store and retrieve business data efficiently. They would choose between structured and unstructured database technologies like SQL-based PostgreSQL and NoSQL-based CouchDB.
PostgreSQL offers the following features:
- It is an open-source relational database that you can use to store SQL-compliant data.
- It is a good database option for complex analytical queries that you would run for a construction ERP application.
- PostgreSQL gives better performance and speed due to the concurrent writing feature without read/write locks.
Your developers can use CouchDB and take advantage of the following:
- It offers a schema-less database management solution with an extensive open-source community that makes it a reliable database system for enterprises.
- You can expect consistent high performance for real-time scenarios, such as tracking the real-time availability of construction materials due to features like pre-built indexers, managed cache, etc.
Your development team may choose third-party services to integrate into your ERP application instead of building them from scratch, for example, data visualization dashboards, message notification services, construction location tracking, etc.
Tools like Postman and RunScope would help your developers work with API integrations. Postman is a complete API development platform. It has a compact layout and supports HTTP requests and formatted API responses in JSON and XML.
RunScope, on the other hand, is an API monitoring tool that provides metrics on API performance and usage.
Mobile App Development
We would recommend you build a native mobile application as it offers a seamless user experience and high performance on a mobile device. Android and iOS are the main shareholders of the mobile user market.
Your mobile app developers should be experts in the following technologies to build an Android application for construction ERP.
- Programming languages like Java and Kotlin. Kotlin is a concise programming language that helps developers avoid common coding errors. It is comparatively slower than Java but offers more features through extensions and makes it easier to work with multi-threaded applications.
- Integrated development environment like Android Studio. It offers a powerful code editor with developer tools like a gradle-based build system, emulator, etc.
- Lightweight databases like SQLite and Realm store data on users’ devices as text files. With Android apps, developers use libraries like Room as an abstraction layer.
You should hire developers with expertise in the following technologies to build an iOS app:
- Swift programming language is supported by Apple for iOS development. It is an intuitive and interactive language. Moreover, it offers features that help build high-quality iOS apps, like automatic memory management, shorter feedback loop, etc.
- Xcode IDE offers all the tools to build an iOS app and is well-integrated with the language and compiler.
- iOS Simulator helps debug and test iOS apps. It would help your developers locate code issues without testing an app on an actual Apple device.
- Core Data as a persistence framework handles model layer objects in your ERP application. It helps developers with data persistence, presentation, cache, etc.
You can read our article on how to build a construction app for more guidance.
Advanced Development Technologies
You would require software developers with specialized knowledge and skills in machine learning and big data to build AI-based features in your ERP application. Artificial Intelligence in construction is expected to generate USD 5045.68 million by 2030.
AI offers many applications in the construction business such as predictive analytics for better project management and risk management.
AI can also track real-time interaction between machinery and workers and send alerts for possible safety issues, construction errors, etc.
Your ML developers should be familiar with the underlying structure of machine learning algorithms to implement them successfully.
They should have experience in multiple data analysis and processing techniques, like descriptive analysis, time series analysis, regression analysis, etc., to implement data models effectively.
ML Developers commonly use Python programming language for handling machine learning models and big data processing. Python is platform-independent with a simple syntax and various supporting libraries and frameworks for machine learning.
For example, your developers can use PyBrain, a modular Python library, to build and run machine-learning models. It is easy to use but supports complex machine learning algorithms for faster implementation by developers.
Similarly, your developers can use the TensorFlow platform for data automation, model tracking, model training, etc. It provides libraries based on Python.
Your mobile app developers can use ML Toolkit for Android apps and Core ML framework for iOS apps.
ML Toolkit helps developers build machine learning functionality with just a few lines of code. The models are optimized for mobile devices and are production ready. The ML Toolkit supports multiple NLP features and also custom ML models.
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Core ML also makes it easier to use machine learning frameworks in iOS applications by minimizing memory and power consumption. Core ML supports ML algorithms for classification, neural networks, etc.
Test ERP for Construction
Quality assurance of the ERP application is the next step. Your software testers should run test cases to ensure all functional and non-functional requirements are met as planned. They should perform ERP application security testing, usability testing, unit testing, integration testing, etc.
Software testing tools like LambdaTest offer extensive testing features to record bugs, automate test routines, etc. It is a cloud-based platform to run manual and automated test cases on mobile and web applications.
Your developers can use a range of emulators and configurations to test your ERP application on various devices and browsers.
Deploy and Configure
Once your construction ERP system is extensively tested for its smooth running, your development team would start to prepare for deployment. You may deploy high-priority modules first, followed by low-priority ones.
Your developers should follow DevOps practices to integrate development and deployment operations. This would ensure continuous testing of your application, automation of certain deployment tasks, and continuous feedback from your ERP application.
Your developers can use DevOps tools like BitBucket for source code management and sharing, Kubernetes for container management, application scaling, rolling out changes in application configurations, etc.
Monitor and Maintain
Your end users can now use your ERP for construction activities. You need to monitor their performance and overall business growth KPIs via your ERP implementation.
The analysis of these KPIs would help you evaluate if your ERP for the construction market is helping business reach their goals of streamlined management and increased user productivity.
Some of the essential construction KPIs include inventory turnovers, project margins, scheduling, revenue growth, etc.
You can use tools like Tableau to measure these KPIs. It is an end-to-end data analytics platform where users prepare, analyze, and share data insights via real-time dashboards.
You also require a plan to maintain your ERP solution and keep it up-to-date with new requirements of end users and versions of development technologies, including software and hardware.
Ready to Invest in Custom Construction ERP Development?
We have discussed in detail the steps of ERP implementation for the construction industry. You require a competent team of software developers and project managers to follow these steps successfully.
If you, as a business CTO or CEO, do not find such qualified talent on your in-house team to build the best construction ERP software, a reliable option is to partner with a credible software development company like DevTeamSpace.
You can either outsource your complete construction ERP development project to DevTeam.Space or hire developers and designers from our developers’ community to augment your existing team.
All our software engineers go through a vetting process before they become a part of our dev teams. You can rest assured that the top quality talent works on your ERP product.
If you plan to partner with the field-expert developers at DevTeamSpace, you can start the process by sending us your initial project specifications via this quick form.
One of our account managers will get in touch with you to discuss further details on the onboarding and project planning process.
FAQs on ERP for Construction
Construction ERP systems are business management software to help construction companies efficiently and seamlessly manage their construction projects, resources, and financial capital.
Enterprise resource planning software like Acumatica, Vista, Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate, etc., can help you organize your construction business. You can opt for a custom construction ERP development option if ready-to-use ERP software does not meet your business requirements.
Supply chain management, human resource management, financial management, customer relationship management, enterprise asset management, sales management, and inventory management are the main components of an ERP system.