How project-centric systems are redefining the AEC customer experience

07Jul17

by John Gregerson

In for a dime, in for a dollar. Colorado-based Sopris Systems, a Microsoft Service Industries Partner, helps project-centric companies deploy cloud-based software solutions that collectively respond to client needs throughout a project’s lifecycle.

Among its offerings is Microsoft Dynamics 365, a platform capable of supplying complete project accounting and enterprise resource planning (ERP) for architects, engineers and other members of the construction industry, as well as customer relationship management (CRM); content management; mobile field services and an impressive array of tools that optimize individual job performance.

The common denominator is information — more pointedly the methods by which it is managed to enhance transparency and foster collaboration among project team endeavors to avoid problems ranging from cost overruns to scheduling mishaps, according to Sopris CEO Matt Pfohl.

Although Sopris solutions are driven by client demand, the engineering and construction sector as a whole remains dogged by information gaps and project team members who aren’t fully responsive to the needs of their clients, said Pfohl.

Conditions, however, are improving, Pfohl indicated during a recent discussion with BuiltWorlds.

How are expectations evolving in terms of what owners or clients require of project team members and the data they generate?

Collaboration is key: Owners are seeking project team members that can seamlessly onboard them on project and leverage software to identify and get ahead of financial or project risks, allowing owners to make informed decisions before problems occur and, as a result, avoid potential cost overruns.

MP: Owners are seeking firms — architects, engineers and subcontractors — that are good at what they do and able to manage projects efficiently. However, they also are looking for firms that can assist them in strategizing. From a technological standpoint, there remain gaps in project monitoring at a time when clients are requesting more information, but not getting it.

Fortunately, cloud computing has evolved substantially in the past four years, providing access to systems that allows practice managers and project team members to more readily share information on costs, billing and other financial metrics throughout the project lifecycle.

Owners also want project team members and system suppliers that are easy to work with and operate as true partners — enterprises that seamlessly onboard them on to the project and partner with them all the way through project completion. If onboarding gets off on the wrong foot, the experience can set the tone for an uncomfortable relationship. As a result, we see high attrition rates, whether among specialty contractors or CMs, because they’re regarded as difficult to work with regardless of their skills.

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