A construction company, an engineer-to-order manufacturer and a professional services organisation may seem like very different businesses on the surface. However, as project-centric organisations, they share the same fundamental driver of their success: Project management. That is, the ability to win, plan, manage and deliver timely, profitable projects.
Turning great customer wins into bottom-line results and satisfied customers takes coordination, collaboration, and insight across every aspect of the end-to-end business. Organisations must rely on faultless management of both operational and project management processes.
So how can construction businesses get ahead, and stay ahead, in an industry that has traditionally been slow to optimise? How can they mobilise their IT landscapes to break down operational boundaries and remove information silos?
Project management complexities
It’s hard to imagine a project that is more complex and fragile than a large construction job. The path from initial estimate and quote to final approval and delivery is long. It is littered with potential pitfalls and bottlenecks. The critical components of the project itself – including resources, skill sets, physical materials and costs – need to be orchestrated across the foundational operational processes of the business. It draws in cross-department expertise such as finance, HR, sales, procurement, supply chain, logistics, project management, quality assurance and legal.
Typically, the interface between daily project management and business operations extends across multiple, disparate IT systems. Often, the consolidation of information across these systems is only possible with a lot of repetitive, manual work and some rather hefty Excel spreadsheets.
At best, this manual process is time-intensive and error-prone. At worst, the lack of real-time insight can mean that the process can go off the rails before the project team is even aware that there is an issue. The result can be missed deadlines, reduced profitability and dissatisfied customers. Not to mention stressed and frustrated employees.
Connecting operations and project management
Connecting the entire business in one cloud-based solution enables a free flow of business and project information across departments and functions. It also promotes a new level of collaboration and knowledge sharing across extended project teams.
Once implemented, the positive effect of truly joined-up solution like Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Project Operations will be seen and experienced across every area of the business.
Joined-up systems align daily activities and processes with operational practices and corporate goals. This, in turn, gives each employee a shared baseline from which to collaborate, share knowledge and leverage skill sets.
With IT and collaboration barriers removed, construction organisations can enable significant improvements. They can see this in the way they handle the daily task of monitoring, managing and delivering on project expectations. Improvements that can be seen and felt in the business every day in the complex and large-scale orchestration that is at the heart of modern construction.
As Paul Fryer, Construction Industry Account Executive at DXC*, a Microsoft partner states: “Project operations comes in multiple ‘flavours’. DXC helps customers decide how best to take advantage of project ops and get the most business value from it.”
Four real-world benefits of removing organisational silos
- More flexible and intuitive project management: Base your planning on accurate and actionable project information from across the organisation. Additionally, document and surface planning with familiar Microsoft Project capabilities and visualisations. Project managers can then spend less time building plans and more time on ensuring that projects are running smoothly. And the whole business can easily stay in the loop.
- More effective and satisfied employees: Scheduling the right people with the right skills at the right time will help you to avoid classic workload issues. You will also get the most from your project teams. Add in simplified processes for time tracking and expense management and reimbursement and you have a great baseline for optimising resource usage. It will also help find and keep the best talent in the industry.
- A more predictable and healthier bottom line: Discover more accurate, experience-based estimating, quoting and forecasting, more effective use of materials and resources, and more informed and compliant project accounting. Your project profitability will reflect every cost you have saved and deadline you have nailed.
- Improved collaboration and insight: Make data-driven decisions in real-time and collaborate easier with an organisation-wide collaboration platform – such as Microsoft Teams. Each new decision is based on experience from previous engagements. This can be aligned to support business goals and changing market demands.
Build agility and resilience in project management
In the ultra-competitive and dynamic world of construction, success is dependent on the ability to react quickly to changing industry, economic, legislative and cultural factors. Retaining and building on this success relies on the ability to consistently make business decisions. These decisions must not only be sound. They must also more insightful than your competitors.
Construction is an industry where fortunes can be made and lost based on the success of a few key projects. Therefore, it is essential that the IT systems deployed by construction companies are more like the final brick and mortar solutions they deliver for their customers. Practical, accessible and built to last.
*Note: DXC is one of the Dynamics partners we have at Microsoft to help us deliver on this proposal. DXC has many years’ experience of rolling out multi-country professional services deployments, supported by close alignment with the Microsoft Product Team for PSA and now Project Operations, enabling us to stay ahead with product developments and ensuring deployments with security and best practice baked in.
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About the author
Toby is a Technical Specialist for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, focussing on Professional Services and the Construction industries. Critically, since the launch of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project Operations, Toby has been the UK Field Lead for Project Operations working on global projects across a multitude of different industries. Toby has been working in the technology and ERP space for several years. He is passionate about driving and providing business and digital transformation by realising the business value through transformational systems. He enjoys empowering organisations to get that ‘competitive edge’ over their competitors.
Toby has been working with the Project Operations Core Engineering and Marketing teams to develop the GTM strategy for the new products and drive new revenue from customers adopting the new platform.