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Five questions homebuilders should ask when selecting an ERP system

Make sure the software provider really understands the market you’re in, says Chris Westbury, of COINS (Image by Avel Chuklanov/Unsplash)
Selecting a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is a major undertaking. Here, Chris Westbury, chief operating officer at COINS, offers advice on how to avoid the most common pitfalls for the homebuilding business.

How integrated is integrated?

When people talk about “integrated”, what do they really mean? Is it a bunch of systems stitched together that will be high maintenance, fragile and ultimately reliant on a few knowledgeable individuals to maintain it? Or is it seamlessly and effortlessly integrated, one that will be easy to upgrade and support?

Speak to others in the market who are using the proposed solution to determine if the integration truly is seamless. A platform which integrates finance, procurement and commercial systems is one of the key things that a homebuilder should consider when looking for a good construction ERP system.

It means that you don’t need to worry about trying to knit different solutions together, and you end up with one single version of the truth.

All too easily, a company can be driven to simply replace an ageing finance system with just a “newer finance system” or replace a hotch-potch of systems with a new series of systems driven by the same design ethos.

What are the benefits?

Do provider and software offer real and proven solutions to the challenges that homebuilders face? Will it help you to improve quality of build or quality of business information, or support growth, whilst benefitting from the economies of scale?

How can it support your growth ambitions whilst helping to manage and control operating costs?

Speak to others in the market who are using the proposed solution. Ensure that you and the provider can identify quick wins in terms of better cost control, validation, reporting and analysis, as well as longer term benefits.

What are the true economies?

Can the ERP solution offer true economies in terms of eCommerce, workflows, standardisation of processes and visibility of what’s happening on sites, both right now and in the future? Can the software provider demonstrate this using one of your sites as an example?

This will help to remove the need for imagination in the evaluation process and demonstrate how results can be achieved in your homebuilding business. Make sure that that the ERP solution will enable you to easily access the right data, at the right time, supporting informed and agile business decisions and helping you to use your resources effectively.

Who will benefit?

Will the benefits be felt not just by your business but also your customers, contractors and supply chain partners?

Review how the construction ERP will help you to make improvements in quality, improvements in timeliness, improvements in accuracy and ultimately improvements in the buying experience.

It’s a huge benefit if the platform covers cradle-to-grave processes, starting with land appraisal, covering all elements of the construction process and finance, through to sales and customer aftercare.

Does the software provider really, really understand the market you are in?

Can they demonstrate this through the answers they provide and the solutions they offer during the software evaluation process? Is there evidence of true understanding?

Speak to others in the market who are using the solution. References are essential to demonstrate a proven track record of providing solutions to companies of your size and type within your very specific industry.

Meet the solution provider’s team to ensure they truly understand the specific challenges that homebuilders face and can offer solutions and draw upon their experience in problem solving.

Ask probing questions to understand how they have implemented solutions in the past. Benefit from their previous industry experience by finding out what challenges were faced and what lessons were learned.

It’s essential that your chosen ERP was designed by construction solution professionals. Selecting a construction-specific ERP partner, such as COINS, will help to ensure that your homebuilding company benefits from industry best practice, experience and knowledge, helping you to achieve both short and long-term value from your investment.

COINS software has been adopted widely by the UK’s leading homebuilders with “The Top 5 UK Home Builders” all using COINS ERP+ as their core business system (Housing Market Intelligence Conference 2021)

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