OPTICON: An Online Construction ERP Software for Buildings and Infrastructure Projects

With the rapid growth in buildings and infrastructure projects, overall management of construction businesses has become a daunting task. More often than not, these projects are located at faraway places; and the communication between different stake holders (owners, consultants and contractors) is erratic, resulting in delays and wastage of resources. On top of that, the projects are becoming bigger and more complex. Mini city projects comprising residential buildings, commercial spaces, schools, hospitals, and recreational centres are becoming a norm.

Majority of construction companies can be categorized into two roles – Real Estate Companies and Contractors. Real Estate companies acquire land, develop it and sell the dwelling units or commercial offices to the customers. They hire a team of consultants such as Architect, Structural Engineers and MEP Consultant and give the contract to a Turnkey Contractor for the entire construction project. Turnkey Contractor in turn hires a few sub contractors who specialize in particular construction disciplines to execute the work. However, some Real Estate Companies have their in-house contracting team as well as consultants, whereas some Contractors are involved in Real Estate development too. The demarcation between Real Estate companies and Contractors is not very clear.

SoftTech Opticon ERP Software

Most construction companies use individual software products to manage their activities like Project Cost Estimation, Accounting & Finance, Purchase & Inventory, HR & Payroll, Sales & CRM, Project Management and Plants & Machinery. Popular software products like MS Office, Tally, and MS Project are widely used. In addition to these, software products for Purchase, HR, and Payroll, Sales & CRM from different vendors are deployed. These software are discrete and do not talk to each other. For example, an engineer prepares a cost estimate using spreadsheets but that data cannot be automatically extracted and correlated with project schedule to prepare a material procurement calendar. Or the data from Purchase department cannot be shared with Accounts department on real time basis to release payments. There could be numerous such examples, which highlight the pain areas faced by construction companies in managing their businesses. The fact is, the information between various individual software products cannot be shared seamlessly across the organization. Therefore, the construction companies should deploy enterprise software (ERP) which encompasses all business functions of a construction enterprise. By implementing ERP, construction companies can benefit tremendously in terms of accurate cost estimation, better project monitoring & control and avoiding delays.

Many big construction companies are using standard ERP solutions like SAP, Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics, whereas, small and medium size construction companies use discrete software products combined with manual efforts to manage their businesses.

The generic ERP solutions offer some features required by construction enterprises but do not offer specific functionalities that are critical for a construction enterprise. So, the need of the hour is ERP specific to construction industry. At present, there are only a few comprehensive ERP solutions exclusively focussed on construction businesses.

SoftTech Opticon

Apart from covering all construction related business functions, Construction ERP software must have following three critical features - (1) Fully online solution (2) CAD/BIM integration (3) Mobile App interface.

OPTICON, developed by Pune based SoftTech Engineers Pvt. Ltd. (http://www.softtech-engr.com) is one such Construction specific ERP software. It is developed using futuristic technology so that it remains relevant in spite of fast advances in software platforms and tools. It is fully web-based, so could be accessed anytime and from anywhere using PCs, Laptops, Tablets, or Smart Phones. Imagine engineers accessing such ERP at construction sites on their mobile phones to submit their daily progress reports and to upload photos of site showing current status, thereby automatically updating the project status at head office, providing MIS reports for the top management.

OPTICON maps all the business functions necessary for construction enterprises like bidding, cost estimation, project management, accounting, plant & machinery, client billing, subcontractor management, sales, CRM, HR & Payroll, etc. For Big construction companies, which have already invested in generic ERP, OPTICON's construction specific modules can be integrated with their existing ERP solution. OPTICON has already been successfully interfaced with Business Intelligence tools like SAP BO-1, IBM's Cognos, Microsoft Dynamics. It is also 'integration-ready' with widely used software like Primavera, Microsoft Project and Tally.

Architects and Consultants are increasingly adopting BIM (Building Information Modelling) for managing the projects. The BIM models help construction companies to detect clashes in design during pre-construction stage and thereby reduce the losses and rework. OPTICON reads 3D building models from Autodesk Revit software for extracting BOQs and for project schedule. This makes life easier for contractors, as they can directly utilize the BIM models sent by the consultants for quantity takeoff and project management.

OPTICON is a proven ERP with successful implementation in 100+ construction companies in India, Middle East, and Africa.

Apart from OPTICON SoftTech is an 18+ years old company with 200+ technical staff has developed award winning enterprise software solutions like AutoDCR (Automated Building Plan Approval Management System) and PWIMS (Public Works Information Management System). AutoDCR is being used at 55+ Urban Local Bodies whereas PWIMS has been implemented in seven state wide organizations in India. SoftTech offers solutions and services, which encompass entire project lifecycle from building plan approval to facility management. SoftTech's offerings have received wide acceptance from both public and private organizations in India as well as foreign countries. SoftTech has development alliances with IT giants like Microsoft, IBM, SAP, and Autodesk.

NBM&CW August 2015

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