Engineering and construction (E&C) resiliency resides in the Cloud

In part two of this series, we explore how a cloud ERP lays the foundation for future-proof growth through unified operations and speed to innovation.

Download the "Digital Transformation Blueprint for E&C" eBook for the whole story. 


How to Build a Sustainable Engineering & Construction Foundation in the Cloud  


When we speak of a future-proof digital foundation, cloud migration must be a key consideration for growth, scalability, and the ability to adapt in an evolving industry landscape.  

Prioritizing transformative growth 

Investing in digital transformation is not about weathering the storm in times of crisis, it’s about moving forward with a more sustainable and smarter digital ecosystem. Like all projects, a solid foundation is key for success. With a modern ERP suite of business applications running in a secure and flexible cloud environment, E&C companies gain immediate benefits, and ground on the competition. By leveraging real-time visibility into unified operations across departments and the supply chain, there are many opportunities to save, scale and compete. 

Examples of how to gain instant operational leverage include:

  • Implementing best practices that ensure quality, efficiency, and security 
  • Reducing technology footprint and maintenance costs 
  • Reducing costs and lost time due to manual errors 
  • Seamlessly and automatically handling complex billing arrangements 
  • Optimizing resource allocation and scheduling  
  • Accessing data and tracking KPIs to make intelligent business decisions 
  • Tracking inventory availability in real time 
  • Improving project forecasting and tracking to better the bottom line 
  • Equipping field teams with tools and mobile solutions

Laying the groundwork for a digital foundation 


Today’s emerging E&C leaders are those who have identified the most urgent pain points to address in this complex environment before embarking on a journey of digital transformation. Bringing in experts early can best help your company adapt quickly and efficiently and minimize cost and disruption by prioritizing critical areas of operations first. Here are three important considerations and industry best practices to get started: 

Identify needs

It starts by addressing internal needs and getting all ducks in a row. Proven ERP solutions like Microsoft D365 for Finance, Supply Chain Management, Project Operations and Customer Engagement are designed to modernize and integrate all systems and data in a single platform to streamline operations and optimize processes. This often entails replacing legacy ERP technology and implementing future-proof, cloud-based solutions. 

Partner up 

To help scope out needs and priorities and minimize disruption of day-to-day operations during this transitional time, it’s essential to partner with an established company that specializes in digital transformation for the E&C industry. From choosing the best technology to complement or replace existing systems, to designing a roadmap for quick wins and meeting longer-term objectives, to implementing the technology and onboarding users, there are partners who can blueprint the entire process, build customizable solutions, and support the initiative as needs change.

Upgrade technology 

Accept the fact that your legacy systems were not built to sustain the demands of Industry 4.0 or scale for growth. Success for today’s E&C companies relies on highly flexible technology that can integrate old and new systems, unify disparate data, and streamline processes. These platforms are revolutionizing the industry, how things are designed and built, how teams are managed, how partnerships and collaborations are forged, and how customer experiences and relationships are evolved. 


How to measure up your ERP implementation partner 

Technology expertise  

During the selection process, clients tend to focus on the consultant’s product and technology expertise and demonstration experience. You may have had the painful experience of working with a consultant who was learning the system with you. When this happens, the consultant doesn’t know what he doesn’t know, so you may end up with workarounds, pointless customizations, or an ERP solution that uses only 50% of the new software’s capabilities. 

Proven process  

Product expertise is a legitimate concern, but knowledge of business processes is paramount. If the goal of your ERP project is to drive value through improved process efficiency —and it should be—you need to work with a consultant who can go beyond automating and integrating existing processes with ERP software. The best ERP partners have the right blend of technology and business process experience. Make sure to ask about their methodologies and talk to their clients to learn how they’ve leveraged their expertise to redesign the clients’ business processes and make the most of their ERP investment. 

Client successes 

Is it better to work with an ERP implementation consultant who has experience in the Engineering and Construction industry and its particular challenges, or with someone who can provide innovative ideas from other industries? Ideally, you need both, and your consultant’s industry experience is only relevant if it was acquired in the context of an ERP implementation. Similarly, you want to get an idea of the type of ERP projects your consultant is accustomed to. Do they typically work on plain vanilla projects or complex implementations tied to many front- and back-office systems? 

Cultural fit  

Several studies have shown that behind every successful ERP implementation is a strong project team. Thus, the importance of evaluating the cultural fit with your ERP consulting firm. Cultural fit is hard to define because it is largely subjective. Cultural fit is that “gut feeling” that you will be able to work with these people over the next 6 to 12 months without any major clash of personalities. It is a mix of values, behaviors and unspoken rules that helps you answer key questions such as whether you trust them and feel comfortable around their people. 

Long-term vision 

In general, an ERP project is not a one-time transaction. So, you need to look at post-implementation services such as training and levels of customer support, upgrades and periodically re-evaluate how you use the software. But when ERP is just the first step in a complete business transformation strategy, it is preferable to find a partner with the ability to support your long-term vision with additional services and offerings such as eCommerce, BI or big data.

Mark your territory as E&C innovators


With the North American market and technology leaders heavily invested in a greener, smarter and more sustainable future, having a solid, secure and future-proof connected ecosystem opens a world of new opportunities.