Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software continues to improve and help companies develop more efficient operations. ERP systems, or "middleware," bridge the gap between the warehouse floor and management executives, giving decision makers a clearer view of company practices and enabling them to make improvements, PACE Today reported.
"Manufacturing operations today can be very complex and inflexible, which adds cost, lengthens delivery time and increases project risk by threatening business agility. However, as managers realize the benefits of developing visibility across their operation, more companies will turn to middleware," the article stated. "Middleware for manufacturers can provide functionality such as automated decisions, service-oriented integration, business process management, information security, event processing, reporting and systems management."
As these ERP middleware solutions continue to become more advanced, manufacturers will be able to develop enhanced products and solutions, the article stated. An Oracle representative told PACE that these solutions give companies a competitive edge by creating an "automated and managed end-to-end system." Typically, manufacturers use individual applications to track the supply chain, manage production, keep track of sales and shipments. But with an ERP system, all those applications can be integrated with one another, making it easier for managers to see an overall view of operations.
Upgrades for ERP key to continued benefits
Companies that have already discovered the benefits of ERP and have been using the solution for years may need to consider upgrading the software. According to a report from an ERP provider, many companies are using outdated solutions, which end up hurting the business more than helping.
The report cited research from Forrester, which found that nearly half of all ERP users are currently using solutions that are two versions behind the most current release of the software. This means the ERP system could be four or more years old, and these companies are missing out on the latest technology and tools that aid in improving operations and driving business growth.
The report gave numerous examples of how an outdated ERP will hurt a company, including draining an IT budget by forcing IT experts to spend their time and resources fixing the old system instead of focusing their efforts developing innovative business functions.
"Simply changing the equation and reallocating the IT budget from maintenance to innovation is almost impossible with old ERP, because every costly old on premise ERP upgrade, patch and fix is 'opportunity cost' - money and time that isn’t spent on tailoring ERP to meet the needs of the business," the report stated.