Building Dynamics AX for growing AEC and government contracting firms

Jan 29, 2015 6:00:00 AM

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Some architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) companies outgrow their technology tools and make do with limited software capabilities. That can hamper their growth, especially if they set their sights on larger, more profitable projects or engage in government contracting with its demanding compliance requirements. Here’s a blueprint for an integrated, powerful, compliance-enabling AEC infrastructure.

In the construction industry, some trends of recent years continue, including:

Pursuit of more rewarding contracts

Many construction companies, looking for higher-margin contracts that are not as much treated as commodities as routine construction—for instance, warehouses, schools, and chain stores—change their strategy to pursue larger, more complex, one-of-a-kind projects. Many of these take place in the public sector—bridges, utilities, public transit infrastructures, military facilities, and others.

Evolving businesses

More specialized companies acquire, partner, or merge with others, and sometimes change their business models, to become full-fledged AEC businesses. They acquire greater inter-disciplinary resources and often gain the ability to generate greater profits from projects that surpass their previous capabilities.

Both of these developments require construction and AEC companies to update and enhance the systems and processes they use to manage their projects and resources. That effort is not always seen as a top priority by business leaders, with the possible results of shortsighted planning, insufficient funding, and limited effectiveness of software tools and the business activities they support. As a consequence, some companies deliver clients the equivalent of the Chrysler Building while they have their offices in what might be compared to a handful of shacks and lean-tos.

There are real risks if the size or complexity of your contracts or the volume of your business growth surpass the capabilities of your business systems, such as:

- Difficulties in maintaining good visibility of your financials, resource utilization, and project performance;
- Limited effectiveness and incomplete control of your on-site project managers;
- Labor-intensive and challenging management and reporting in the complex areas of compliance and financials.

As your AEC company goes after government contracting and other worthwhile business, how do you best enable compliance and visibility, help your project managers and other key people perform well, and manage growth?

We recommend you set your business on the solid foundation of an integrated system that gives access to all the information and capabilities workers need. Few things drain productivity as quickly, and result in so many errors, as the need to log into and navigate a variety of specialized systems to do your job.

You deploy an ERP system such as Microsoft Dynamics AX for all the fundamental business management capabilities in finance, operations, project and resource management, HR, supply chain management, and sales.

Then you can integrate ERP with the capabilities that support your specific industry and business model. If yours is an AEC company, there is To-Increase Construction for Microsoft Dynamics AX, a solution that extends the ERP system with important capabilities for project management and planning, and asset maintenance and management. More than likely, many of your most valuable contributors usually work on project sites or in transit. To give them access to the software capabilities and data they need to perform effective service on your own or customers’ equipment and facilities, you can implement one of our mobile activity solutions. So they can easily record their hours and costs on the devices they carry, there is Mobile Time and Expense.

At this point, you have a software edifice that is fully equipped to run your AEC business and that can help you deliver large, profitable projects.

If you also engage in government contracting, a set of compliance requirements applies. From bidding, managing, and delivering projects; to managing subcontractors and resources; to performing finance management, you follow the public sector’s rules. There is no software that can make you compliant, but the right tool can make compliance easier, more efficient and reliable, and less risky. To-Increase GovCon for Microsoft Dynamics AX integrates seamlessly with the ERP system and the Construction solution to help you manage indirect and allowable costs, manage your margins and overhead, do cost-plus billing, meet the challenging requirements of the regulatory frameworks that apply to your business—and deliver successful AEC projects that meet your clients’ requirements. To make operations more efficient, you can take advantage of the proven government contracting processes in our business process management solution, To-Increase RapidValue.

The GovCon solution includes a mobile dashboard app, so your finance and program managers can see at a glance such vital data as project performance, invoicing to date, and revenue projections. A social feedback mechanism helps you assess the satisfaction level of your government contracting clients with each project.

By now your company resides on a single, integrated, compliance-enabling AEC software platform that lets you run and grow your business within and outside of public sector contracting, and that makes ample use of productive mobility and modern user interface design. Employees across the company work in the same software environment to perform their jobs and access business data.

With To-Increase GovCon and Construction on the basis of Microsoft Dynamics AX, you also have a highly standardized system. It’s always good to keep customizations to a minimum, because they can cause complications and add costs when you upgrade the software. We help you avoid that. Instead, you can use personalized and role-optimized screens to make sure your project managers and other employees have easy access to the functions and information they need—no customizations necessary.

With this infrastructure in place, you can deliver the Chrysler Building and the Eiffel Tower over and over, all from within a connected AEC management resource that is powerful, versatile, and comfortable.

Want to learn more? Have feedback or questions? Get in touch with me or contact To-Increase.

 

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About Author
Michele Chapman

Michele Chapman

Product Manager Finance Michele brings her 15+ of experience in government contracting and materials management to To-Increase as a product manager. During her career, she has held positions in supply chain for a government contracting company and for one of the largest providers of supply chain transportation solutions in the U.S. More recently, she was a principal consultant at a recognized software vendor for the government contracting market.
Michele holds a B.A. in French and International Studies from West Virginia University, an M.A. in French from George Mason University, and an M.B.A. and a Certificate in Supply Chain Management from the College of Business at East Carolina University.

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