For years, many manufacturing companies have ignored the benefits ERP systems could bring to their operations, but an American Machinist article said manufacturers are switching gears and realizing the benefits of investing in enterprise resource planning.
According to Ken Julien of the accounting and auditing service company Plante Moran, manufacturers were reluctant to invest in ERP systems when the economy took a hit. And while this decision may have worked for companies whose competitors were also failing to adopt solutions to better manage operations and increase productivity, some were finding they were left behind.
"As the economy picks up and the competitor down the street starts to invest in ERP and comes up with ways to process and manage information better and faster and is able to serve customers in a more cost effective and responsive way, your business is going to be in trouble if you don't respond in kind," Julien wrote.
As manufacturers are seeing a slight increase in revenues, many are looking to ERP to improve operational efficiency, according to Julien. Yet, selecting the right system can be a tricky decision, and he offered tips for those interested in improving their business functions by picking the best ERP.
The first step to take is to hold a meeting with the management team to determine what the company's most pressing business information needs are. Julien suggested businesses focus on a "critical few" features manufacturing managers would like to see in an ERP system to best meet those needs. This makes comparing ERP solutions that much easier.
Additional input from the IT department and finance executives should also be sought.
While the price of implementing an ERP solution should be viewed as an investment that will enhance efficiencies and contribute to improved decision making, it's also important for manufacturers to ensure they are choosing a provider that offers sufficient support, Julien wrote. Training those in the company who will use the system will also be crucial, he said. Those that try to cut corners on training and education will fail to see the full benefits of the system.
An October BizJournals article stated that an ERP system will likely serve as a "partner in the business" for many years, so manufacturers need to be smart about choosing a provider that can grow and continue to meet enterprise needs.