Determining Software Requirements for Your Manufacturing Business
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Determining Software Requirements for Your Manufacturing Business

Growing manufacturing companies face new challenges to keep their competitive edge while remaining lean. As a result, periodical assessments of work processes and software solutions are needed to look for inefficiencies. As productivity and growth issues surface and evolve, the analysis of these solutions helps manufacturers determine if they’re equipped to address these challenges going into the future.

In today’s economy, the technology you choose can make or break your manufacturing company. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) transforms manufacturing companies with legacy systems by integrating, managing, and streamlining the core processes and systems needed to run your operation.

From human resources and accounting to sales and inventory, manufacturing ERP systems consolidate data into a single source of information for real-time, accurate and actionable insights not offered by disparate systems.

Manufacturers who rely on legacy applications with excessive manual workarounds soon realize where their productivity gaps can create major setbacks and in the end, create opportunities for the competition. By assessing the relevance of your legacy systems, you’re able to determine what you need from your manufacturing ERP to reclaim those competitive advantages.

Some of the common gaps manufacturing companies seek to fill:

  • Increase revenue
  • Streamline operations
  • Boost productivity
  • Maintain compliance
  • Data-driven insights
  • Technology integrations
  • Gain mobile/cloud accessibility
  • Foster growth
  • Maximize profitability
  • Adapting and scaling the business

The evaluation of your manufacturing software starts with this gap and will be a driving force in your ERP implementation to properly prepare for the future. Asking the right questions will help analyze whether the existing system meets your unique business requirements.

What are your functionality requirements?

Very early on in your software assessment, even before initiating your official software evaluation process, you’ll begin to look at your immediate business needs as well as any foreseeable future requirements. What do you need from the new software versus what would be nice to have? What problems will the application be expected to solve? These are among the most obvious questions when performing your software evaluation, making them easy to gloss over. They’re also the most important, so be certain you answer these thoroughly.

What are your deployment options?

Your next consideration should involve how you want your system deployed? Your options typically include on-premise, hosted, cloud, and hybrid solutions. Each of these deployment options offers clear benefits depending on your needs, so be sure to research which deployment option or hybrid scenario would work best for your organization.

The biggest factors in your deployment options often include whether your company wants to assume the cost and responsibility of the IT infrastructure associated with on-prem systems versus the accessibility and flexibility of cloud-based systems.

These deployment options might make ERP sound like a function entirely related to your IT department. One thing to remember, ERP systems are a function of your entire business, not solely the IT department’s responsibility. It’s critical to involve employees from finance, operations, manufacturing and other departments across your organization. By including perspectives from your whole organization in your decision-making process, you ensure each department has a stake in the game.

Will you need customizations?

From a functionality standpoint, you’ll want an ERP system which can adapt to your business requirements without the needing extensive customizations. Besides adding difficulty to the implementation process, ERP customizations create complexities during future upgrades when your system will require special consideration.

From a cost perspective, customizations add to the budget in the short term by adding to your itemized list of deliverables during implementation. Consider, also, the long term cost liabilities which occur when your organization is requires an update or bug fix which hasn’t been tested against your customized software. While customizations are sometimes needed, always be prepared to assess the true necessity of a particular feature against the short and long term costs associated with having it.

In today’s highly competitive market, inefficient systems can drastically affect the productivity, profitability, and growth of your manufacturing company. ERP is the backbone of the manufacturing industry by integrating and managing all of the core processes and systems needed to run a manufacturing operation.

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