Let’s say you offer engineering services. Chances are you could use – or perhaps already have – project management software, or even an ERP platform.
Even if you’re already using a project management tool, are you using it to the max of its ability? What is its maximum ability?
In fact, as an engineering services provider you and engineers and other employees also really could use tools for billing and invoicing, email and management, data and reporting, and all of them should be able to be customized specifically around the needs of a professional services firm such as yours.
ERP features for engineering professional services firms
Let’s start with project management
Manage an entire project: that’s what engineering services providers often do. From constructing large dams to small office buildings, to designing and building roadways, and so much more, your ERP needs to go as big – or as small – as you need it to.
If you re managing an entire project, it’s complicated: you’re responsible for the entire project, not just the engineers or the work those engineers are doing.
You are, therefore, truly focused on scheduling, materials purchasing, plan documentation approval, managing budget and costs and – of course – the actually engineering.
Look for an ERP with a project management module that can track time, tasks, discussions, manage contractors, budgets, permissions, etc.
Moving on to billing and invoicing
Not keeping on top of billing to clients can mean project delays. Don’t let that happen! The best collection results occur when you have processes in place that make billing, invoicing and collecting simple for everyone involved (clients, contractors, vendors, etc.).
Look for an engineering ERP with a finance and administration module that streamlines all of your billing and invoicing processes, perhaps one with a dedicated QuickBooks Online integration. Your back-office operations team members should be able to run that office efficiently with invoicing and collections capabilities, HR time sheets, time tracking, cost comparisons and reports, and more.
Engineering professional services firms go nowhere without prospects and leads
Prospects become leads which then become customers (and possibly even referrals). All of these individuals are contacts and if you lose track of them… you lose sales and income!
Therefore, look for a CRM or contact management module in the ERP that’s centralized: anyone you designate has access to it and to the contacts others place in it. It should be able to detect when someone adds information to it that’s already there (no duplication of data). Pages should be easy to navigate and allow for the creation of custom fields. For best results, check to see that it can be integrated with Gmail, Outlook, Twilio, and/or Clearbit.
A subset of content management is email management
Most of our interactions with our contacts today is done via email. Look for an ERP that has a robust email management component, one that – even though it’s a centralized system – can create personalized inboxes for all users. Look also for one that can automatically tag and assign emails to different projects and users.
Collect the data and create the reports!
There is no such thing as too much data. Engineers know this because they know that to complete projects well, on time, and under budget, an ERP should be able to hold as much data as anyone would want to place within it and create as many customizable data reports as desired. Something akin to a Data Warehouse which lets you and your team members create as many reports as they can conceive. Metabase integration also is a good idea for best results.
The most important component of a great engineering services ERP?
Flexibility! It should be completely customizable to your needs, covering all aspects of your business and accessible to all members of your team (or to whomever you designate).
Learn more about the highly customizable Aysling ERP.
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