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Solving the 4 Top Challenges Facing Project Manufacturers

Posted by Indusa Admin on January 26, 2016 8:41 am

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Project manufacturing is one of the most complicated and time consuming industries. There are numerous aspects of every project that need to be tracked, including engineering and design teams, service personnel and equipment, accounting and budgetary considerations, and the actual creation of each piece of the overall project.

In order to operate as efficiently as possible, project manufacturers have to keep certain business aspects in mind, otherwise they risk finishing a project late or over-budget. We’ve compiled a list of the top challenges facing project manufacturers and how properly utilizing ERP can help solve them.

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Top 4 Challenges Facing Project Manufacturers

1. Managing Accounting

The amount of time needed for a single order is one of the defining features of project manufacturing. This makes billing inherently complicated to manage, as there are numerous ways to dictate invoices for a specific client. The different types of progress billing, such as milestone or date based billing, can be difficult to manage – especially if they differ from project to project.

 Solution: Automation

Automate invoices based off of the completion of certain tasks specified in your work breakdown structure when you are milestone billing. You should also automate progress billing to occur based on certain dates. This allows you to have the flexibility you need to complete different projects for different customers over a large period of time.

2. Challenge: Managing Your Budget

Managing a budget for a specific project can be tedious at best, especially when that project lasts upward of one year. Without stringent budgeting methods it is possible for manufacturers to miss out on important indicators and end up over-budget. There’s nothing worse than completing an 18-month long project, only to realize a costly mistake in month 2 put you grossly over-budget.

 Solution: Set Project Alerts

When setting up your project plan, set up indicators within your ERP that will alert that you are going over budget. This allows you to catch these items quickly and make revisions where necessary. In doing so, you can catch costly mistakes that would decrease the overall profitability of the project.

3. Challenge: Managing Service Visits 

Managing a wide variety of service technicians and tools can also be a daunting task for project manufacturers. Whereas other manufacturers have all the tools they need onsite, project manufacturers often have to ship thousands of dollars’ worth of tools to a client site for the installation or setup of the completed project. Keeping track of personnel and assets across numerous service trips can be difficult to organize and manage. Additionally, having access to all the information that technicians need while out on the road is another hurdle that many project manufacturers need to overcome. Hauling around numerous technical manuals from one project site to another is cumbersome and unnecessary, but access to a mobile database isn’t always an option either.

 Solution: Monitor and Track Equipment

Use your ERP software to track and log equipment as it moves from site to site. This will prevent you from forgetting anything you need at the shop or leaving behind valuable tools. You can also use a field service application to monitor your service reps and keep track of their locations.

This will help you create efficient business trips and help keep track of your employees when they’re out in the field. A field service app can also be used to link to an online directory, allowing for your reps to have access to technical manuals and customer information when they’re visiting a client site.

 4. Challenge: Managing Your Talent

Having access to the right people at the right time and place is a crucial aspect of project manufacturing. If a specific project needs a certain skillset or certification, ensure that you have access to them. When keeping track of each and every employee across the organization, as well as their professional experience and licenses, it is easy to slip up and miss an expiring certification or to accidentally send the wrong people to the wrong client site.

 Solution: Access to the Right People

Set up your HR software to alert you when a certification is expiring so you can prepare your employees to get recertified. You should also make sure you have access to records of relevant employee experiences and skills so you can easily assess who are the right people to send out for specific jobs. This will ensure you always have access to the right people at the right time, regardless of your clients’ needs.

Final Thoughts

Juggling all these different challenges is especially difficult in project manufacturing due to the complexity and length of time it takes to complete each project. However, overcoming these challenges doesn’t have to be a drag. Implementing a proper ERP solution can help solve these project manufacturing challenges and assist businesses every step of the way.

This is part one in our project manufacturing series. You can read part two “How Project Manufacturers Can Benefit from Dynamics AX”.

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Sarah Van Wambeke
About the Author – Sarah Van Wambeke

Sarah is an avid writer and digital media enthusiast. Here at Indusa, she primarily focuses on content creation and social media management.

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Topics: ERP