Let’s face it: implementing any major piece of software is tough. And for businesses as complex as home building, the process is certainly demanding. Whether a builder is switching from one system to another or moving from a basic application like Excel to a complete construction ERP software, the implementation process is nobody’s favorite.

But when done successfully, the implementation process can be easier than expected and a valuable activity that pays long-term dividends for your business and your team. Fortunately, this is an area where we have some expertise to guide you! With decades of practice implementing some of the leading ERP solutions in the homebuilding industry, including NEWSTAR and BuildTopia, we have some important and helpful advice.

Follow along with these five steps for homebuilding ERP implementation success! We can’t promise it will make the process a breeze, but it’s sure to help!

Have Realistic Construction Expectations
Key #1

Have Realistic Expectations

You may have gotten a sense of this one from what we’ve already written, but expectations play a big role in smoothly implementing home builder software. With a project like this, there are a lot of expectations you should consider:

How long will the implementation take?

From start to end, a good starting point is to get a solid estimate of how long the implementation project will take. This will help you determine the best period of the year to commit time towards the implementation, considering other projects, construction schedules, team availability, and more.

It will also help demonstrate the scope of the project. For software as impactful as a homebuilding ERP, that reaches so many areas of your business and involves so many data points, it’s important to be realistic about the time it will take to check every box and prepare every team member. With a timeline in mind, you’ll be set to avoid surprises and start tackling the project.

How many team members will be involved?

A simple piece of software for builders may only require one or two team members to get setup. But a homebuilding ERP touches on your entire business, every department, and so many members of your team. You’ll want to take the time to consider how many team members will need to be involved, from information and data gathering to setup work and finally training.

Of course, not every staff member will need to be involved in the complete process, and for some, the commitment may merely be a few hours or days. But determining the role that everyone will need to play can help prepare your business and team for the change, so you can plan ahead and ensure that there are no unexpected work disruptions.

What will the time commitment be?

When a team member is involved in your homebuilding ERP implementation, how much time should be expected of them? This is a key question to answer for the benefit of your business and the team themselves.

Different employees will have different levels of involvement in the project, but there should be expectations in place about how much time will be spent on the implementation. If it will take a considerable percentage of a team member’s work week, you’ll want to be able to plan ahead to adjust their other priorities or assign other staff to lend a hand.

How will the end result look?

Not all of your expectations need to be negative! Your homebuilding ERP implementation is designed to set your business up for long-term success and modern operations. Being able to visualize the day-to-day enhancements, simpler business processes, and improved experiences for your team, vendors and customers should be top-of-mind before and during the project.

This is also an important piece of the puzzle for ensuring that you’re on the same page as your software provider. The expectations you have for how the software will function within your business once it is implemented will guide the process and help make sure every key detail is met.

How much help will our software provider offer?

The implementation process will take a commitment from staff throughout your business – but by no means should you be alone to tackle the project. You should expect that your software provider offers resources to help you through implementation from point A to Z.

This support can come in a lot of different ways. There should be structure, guidance, troubleshooting, and training. Knowing that you have a partner by your side will help you along the way and should prevent the project from seeming to daunting to take on.

Where might challenges occur?

Every business has its unique complexities, and these can often be the leading causes of challenges throughout the implementation process. Perhaps your business has a few processes that are more complicated than others in the industry, data that you know will need to be cleaned before it can be effective, or specific staffing schedules that will need to be managed around.

Knowing these challenges from the outset will avoid unpleasant surprises when they come up and can help you plan around them. Working with an experienced software provider will mean few types of challenges they have never seen before, and guidance can always be offered to help overcome them.

5 Keys to a Successful Homebuilding ERP Implementation
Key #2

A Dedicated Implementation Team

When it’s time to begin your homebuilding ERP implementation project, you will want to have a core, dedicated team in place that leads the project. This team should include resources from your software provider that are fully focused on your business during the project. And on your internal team, there should be at least one employee assigned to manage the project, coordinate with other staff members, and act as a central point of contact with the software vendor.

While many members of your team will get involved with the project, there should be a small number of employees selected to dedicate considerable time to the implementation. Every business is different, and so the number of staff and the role they come from may vary. In general, those appointed should have considerable experience within your business and a great understanding of your business and operational processes.

If you opt to select multiple team members, it can be helpful to look for a variety of skillsets and knowledge. Database management skills are of course critical, but you may also want to select individuals with experience in construction operations, finance, IT, sales and more to act as part of your dedicated implementation team. If that can’t be arranged, you should ensure that whoever is appointed to lead the project internally is given access to help in different departments, and that their questions and needs are prioritized.

Key #3

A Structured Process

There’s no way to hide it: a homebuilding ERP implementation can be complicated! To ensure that it never seems too daunting to overcome, you will want to rely on a structure process that breaks the project into manageable pieces. This will benefit your staff and make sure that they never become overwhelmed by the process. And it will also benefit the business and project itself, making sure that work is completed in a timely, orderly manner that leads to the expected outcomes.

This is where working with an experienced vendor can make a big difference. Having gone through hundreds of homebuilding ERP implementations, Constellation HomeBuilder Systems has been able to develop a proven structure that works for businesses throughout the industry. This structure helps overcome obstacles, keep everyone on track, and simplify a complex process. Working with so many different homebuilders – bigger or smaller businesses, single or multi-family developers, technology experts or novices, clean or messy data, and so many more varieties – has given Constellation a true ability to offer an implementation structure that works for any business.

In the end, a structured process will help you avoid the errors and missed data that could cause long-term issues. By following proven best practices throughout the implementation, you can expect not only a smoother process but also a successful one that prepares your business to succeed with your new software for the long-run.

5 Keys to a Successful Homebuilding ERP Implementation
5 Keys to a Successful Homebuilding ERP Implementation
Key #4

Focus on Your Business

Now, even though the structure of the implementation project is critical, it should always be clear that the structure is there to aid your business. After all, the goal of your new construction management software is to solve the unique challenges of your company and address your specific procedures. While you will select a software you think is best equipped to impact your business, it should be clear throughout implementation that the software works for your homebuilding operation, rather than your operation serving the software.

Throughout your implementation, your internal team and your software partner should keep a clear focus on your business’ needs and the end goals you have in mind for your entire operation. This way, implementation processes and resources can be adjusted to best serve your organization.

This is another area where the experience of your software provider can play such a big role. Without experience working with a multitude of homebuilders, it will be hard for your vendor to look beyond the software itself. They will encourage you to structure your business around the algorithms and workflows within the software, rather than having the knowledge and ability to craft the software implementation to your business and create workflows that fit your own operating practices.

Key #5

Training & Change Management

The best implementation process will ultimately not be effective if your team is not well trained on the software. And while we all have experience with different training in our careers, there are some best practices that can make this critical step as effective as can be.

Training for every user

Every user who will interact with your new homebuilding ERP should take part in at least some of the training process. While it may seem attractive to have your core team members complete the training and then teach others as needed, you don’t want to miss the chance for all your staff to receive direct training from the software vendor and product experts.

Homebuiling Software Training Change Management

Complete focus during training

We’ve all been there: it’s time to focus on training or a meeting, but distractions get in our way. Maybe its emails popping up in your inbox, something urging you to check your phone, or another teammate you really want to chat with. That’s why we really encourage you to find a way for your team to dedicate, focus, and commit to the training process.

Some even find that going offsite can help your team put aside their day-to-day work challenges and spent their mental energy on the new software training. You may want to consider renting a conference room at a local hotel or co-working space to help offer your team a clearer headspace.

Go-live simulation

Something we whole-heartedly recommend as part of your training and implementation is a go-live simulation. Just as it sounds, a go-live simulation will let your teamwork in the new homebuilding ERP as it were fully up-and-running, completing their tasks in the software, interacting with it hands-on, and learning to troubleshoot.

This helps your team in two ways. From a training standpoint, nothing is more effective than navigating and using the software itself. For the implementation as a whole, this is also the best way to ensure that every detail has been covered, data is correctly displaying, and workflows are running as expected.

Has implementation scared you from changing homebuilding ERP systems?

If you’ve been nervous to consider a new homebuilding ERP because of the implementation process, we hope that the advice within this post has given you some strategies to put your mind at ease. Our homebuilding technology experts are always available to walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have about your unique business.

Learn more about Constellation’s Complete ERP Software Systems and reach out to our team for more information!

Quick Q&A For Construction Mangers Before Implementing Homebuilding ERP

A Homebuilding ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system is an all-encompassing software solution crafted to unify and harmonize different facets of homebuilding activities. It encompasses domains like project management, accounting, procurement, sales, customer service, and beyond. The implementation of an ERP system brings forth numerous advantages, including heightened efficiency, precise data integrity, real-time insights, enhanced decision-making capabilities, and elevated customer experiences.

Choosing the right homebuilding ERP system involves careful consideration of your specific business needs. Start by evaluating your processes, identifying pain points, and setting clear objectives for the ERP implementation. Look for a system that offers modules tailored to the homebuilding industry, such as project management, customer relationship management, financials, and reporting. Consider factors like scalability, user-friendliness, integration capabilities, vendor reputation, and ongoing support.

Every construction ERP implementation plan typically follows these steps:

  1. Assessment and Planning: Evaluate current processes, define goals, allocate resources, and create an implementation plan.
  2. System Selection: Choose an ERP solution that aligns with your requirements.
  3. Data Migration: Transfer existing data to the new system, ensuring accuracy and completeness.
  4. Configuration and Personalization: Configure the ERP to match your business processes and customize to your management needs.
  5. Testing: Thoroughly test the system to identify and fix any issues before going live.
  6. Training: Train employees on how to use the ERP effectively.
  7. Go-Live: Transition to the new system and monitor its performance.
  8. Continuous Improvement: Regularly review and optimize system usage based on feedback and changing needs.

The time required for ERP implementation varies based on several factors:

  • The complexity of your processes
  • the size of your business
  • the chosen ERP solution
  • the level of customization required.

A complete implementation can take anywhere from several months to a year. It’s essential to set realistic timelines and allocate sufficient resources to ensure a successful implementation.

ERP implementation can pose challenges, such as:

  • Data Migration Issues: Ensuring accurate and complete data transfer from existing systems.
  • Resistance to Change: Overcoming employee resistance to adopting new processes and software.
  • Customization Complexity: Balancing the need for customization with the risk of complicating the system.
  • Integration Challenges: Ensuring seamless integration with existing software and tools.
  • User Training: Training employees to use the new system effectively and efficiently.
  • Cost and Budget Management: Managing costs and staying within the allocated budget.

Navigating these challenges requires thorough planning, clear communication, employee engagement, and collaboration with experienced ERP implementation partners.

Remember that a successful homebuilding ERP implementation involves thorough preparation, selecting the right system, diligent execution, and ongoing optimization to realize the full benefits of integrated operations and improved business efficiency.