Choosing which ERP solution will serve as the backbone of your manufacturing business is by no means an easy decision to make. It involves spending time and resources to understand new technology, and gathering operational support for making a change to what some may perceive as not necessary. The market is awash with software companies peddling their ERP wares to the weary small/medium enterprise. When I see the volume of ERP solutions on the market today, the old adage "Jack of all trades, master of none.' comes to mind. There are so many ERP solutions out there trying to address every possible industry vertical. Their effectiveness is diluted due to the simple fact that true deep domain knowledge takes years to come by. There is simply no such thing as a one size fits all solution when it comes to ERP systems. With limited resources at their disposal, many small/medium enterprises don't truly take the time to research well enough, before investing. Make the wrong choice and the consequences can be painful and negatively impact your bottom line.
You've likely been running your manufacturing business for some time now. It may even be a family run business that's been operating for generations. Facing change is never easy, and influencing the need to change on older generations is often an insurmountable task.
But reality never subsides, it's always there forcing us to eventually face change. Today's manufacturing environment faces all sorts of new pressures, either competitive, economic, or customer driven.
On the competitive front, new technologies are emerging to help manufacturers operate at levels of efficiency never before thought possible. Think about Factory of the Future or Industry 4.0 - robotics, artificial intelligence, Industrial Internet of Things, Big Data Analytics, and Blockchain. All of this combines to offer top quality manufacturers the ability to run lean, lower cost operations with unprecedented visibility into the supply chain well beyond the walls of the factory.
On the economic front, one thing is for certain, the cost of doing business anywhere is not subsiding, and in some cases, inflationary pressures may be causing you to feel this impact on your operations sooner than you may have expected.
Customers are also becoming more sophisticated. Access to information is ubiquitous today, customers can easily compare prices, or choose the competitor who offers more selection, higher quality, or the ability to customise their orders.
It's not easy to change, but change is never-the-less necessary if you mean to sustain your business for the long term. One thing is for certain, to keep pace you need an operational management system as the backbone of your operations. Your next challenge is to ensure you choose the one that best fits your business.
To help with your selection process, keep these 5 points in mind when doing your due diligence:
- Does the ERP vendor have specific experience in your industry vertical? In this case, we are discussing small/medium enterprise manufacturing.
- How can their system support or integrate with other Factory of the Future or Industry 4.0 initiatives you may be investing in?
- What is the vendor's visionary road map of development for keeping pace with fast evolving technology?
- How will their system help your business ensure you're able to deliver quality products to your customers on time and profitably?
- Can they implement their solution without customising? This should always be the goal.
Do your research carefully, spend time getting to understand the details of how the system will work for your operational requirements. It's common to hold more than a few technical review meetings to get an accurate hands on feel for the system working in your environment. Make the right choice, and you'll reap the rewards and hopefully increase profits.