The Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) industry has its own set of unique challenges. Complex and often volatile operational environments are commonplace and now the pressures to improve competitiveness in a tightening market are also rising. Many organizations in this industry are turning towards digital solutions to move towards a brighter future characterized by high-quality work and lower capital expenditures.
Today, the EPC industry has the opportunity to use new technologies to drive better organizational outcomes. To enable transformation efforts, many organizations are trying to identify the right opportunities to place their big bets. Research suggests that 16% of organizations operating in this space are already leveraging cutting-edge technologies and digital construction solutions while 51% reveal active intent to use them. With the cloud becoming another technology to drive collaboration and ultimately productivity and profitability. 60% of all midsized core financial management application projects and 30% of large and global projects will be public-cloud implementations by 2024. By 2025, 71% of the tasks will be completed by machines as compared to 29% today.
The challenge lies in how some EPC companies choose to “Go Digital”. Many upgrade by adopting point solutions for construction businesses to address specific operational challenges individually and opportunistically. This could be a problem.
High quality execution only manifests when organizations have better access to high-quality, accurate, and relevant data to effectively guide investment and spur innovation. It requires integrated construction software solutions and systems that enable communication and foster collaboration based on a unified view of operations across all functional areas. Cumbersome and fragmented models based on several point systems that discourage collaboration will hurt rather than help this cause.
Point solutions vs integrated construction systems
Digital technology solutions can do a lot of heavy lifting in this industry with many operational aspects. However, standalone software and point solutions for construction business designed to only handle single operational features cannot address the competitive needs of the industry. This is because standalone software creates disparate silos and thereby impedes cohesive visibility – a 360-degree view of the business where the data affects all the influencers of productivity and profitability.
Most point systems are general-purpose, i.e., they are not designed for the EPC industry specifically. This means they can’t offer anything more than the bare minimum functionality. This means they will fall short in several crucial ways. For instance, a Daily Log can be maintained with a free app. But apart from mere time-keeping, it will not be able to address any of the complexities that abound on the standard EPC worksite. The net result is that the output of the point system becomes merely a base for lots of additional manual work that is required to ensure compliance, business rules, and other informational needs are catered to.
Lacking process unity creates complexity
Standalone software also makes it harder to drive process uniformity across the organization. Since all these business processes need bespoke maintenance due to limited or partial integrations, standalone software often creates more workload for the organization. These can also be hard to roll out across different business units or companies fast.
These information silos also become a challenge from a compliance and risk management point of view. As the EPC industry moves from documents towards data, they need digital construction solutions that can actively feed other systems and drive an agile, high-velocity business without worrying about compliance and regulatory concerns. This becomes hard to do if EPC engineering, finance, equipment and on-site logging functions use dozens of different software applications and technology platforms. These disparate systems will only create incompatible, expensive islands of information that are barriers to speed, agility, and collaboration. This could become a major challenge at crucial times like when the company is trying to close projects or report financials for specific quarters. Public EPC companies have even run afoul of the SEC for failure to close year-end financial reports.
It’s clear that rationalizing technology choices and employing digital construction solutions that cover more ground and enable data to move around effortlessly must become organizational imperatives now.
The good news is that the EPC industry can address the multiple operational aspects of the entire business and avoid the challenges faced by the point systems by leveraging integrated solutions built on powerful ERP frameworks like Dynamics 365.
Using an integrated business software, EPC companies can:
- Easily enable data sharing. Data can be entered into one module and accessed by other, authorized business units immediately
- Roll out process upgrades faster and dynamically and address the evolving business needs of the organization. This also lowers the TCO and also seamlessly supports growth
- Reduce security and compliance risks and support multiple regulatory and operational scenarios
- Enable faster and better decision-making by providing real-time visibility from the jobsite to the back office.
- Provide companies with a single source of truth to identify business opportunities, drive process and productivity improvement
- Support changing business models to drive competitive advantage
- Ensure that all the systems capture and deliver information that is directly relevant to the EPC industry’s needs
Keeping these in mind, what features should a comprehensive and integrated construction management software solution for the EPC industry cover?
- It should seamlessly integrate and automate core business processes with financials to support any business model. It should further unify data, automate processes and provide deep and actionable business insights.
- Provide rule-based inventory management, task management, resource and tooling management capabilities to reduce project complexity and risk. No-code configuration services are a bonus to look for as it simplifies budgeting v/s actual reporting
- Have a complete cloud vision starting from infrastructure, application, platform to data and meet the specific business needs of this industry.
- The solution must be easy to customize, offer cloud and hybrid options while integrating effortlessly with existing systems
- Gather all the enterprise information seamlessly and ensure that it flows through the organization effortlessly to be pulled, parsed, analyzed, and actioned.
- Deliver business agility by enabling organizations to address existing business needs and respond to emerging needs, market changes, or even operational disruptions with confidence and agility
- Provide complete, clear, and real-time visibility into project operations and costs at any given moment. Offer graphic visualizations and embedded analytics including the capacity to drill down into transactions to turn data into actions.
- Consolidate all different processes into a single fluid system, integrate with productivity tools to drive better data connectivity, and consequently provide better insights to optimize processes across the entire business.
- Afford unmatched flexibility and scalability to enable business transformation while being user-friendly, offer language customizations, and partner localization to drive adoption and advocacy.
With the visible value from digital adoption being widely apparent, those operating in this space need to evaluate if they are ready to take advantage of all the benefits. It is time to empower the organization with the right digital solutions and make sure that it incorporates better cost- and risk-based decision-making and breaks down the silos across the entire value chain to capably accelerate business velocity. It’s time to get over the unhealthy obsession with point solutions and look at a more unified approach. Let us show you how.