It’s no secret that enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions for manufacturing tend to be more expensive than ERP solutions for other industries. In manufacturing, organizations tend to face more involved technical integrations and require higher levels of customization to achieve the results desired from an ERP solution. Fortunately, there are a few ways to reduce the complexity of choosing the right manufacturing ERP solution.
Create a Comprehensive List of Must-Have Features
The first step in selecting the right manufacturing ERP solution is to create a list of all of the ERP features your organization wants. Call it a wish list, because in most cases, that’s what the initial list becomes. It usually includes every features that is both necessary and nice to have. Then, divide that list into three parts: must-have features, highly functional but not necessary features, and nice-to-have features. When the list is complete, you should have a solid understanding of which features are required and which are just nice extras. This list also makes it possible for competing vendors to more accurately quote their products and services.
Evaluate Mobile Capabilities Honestly
As you’re evaluating features, keep mobile capabilities in mind. Tablets and smartphones have become essential devices for most organizations, and they could have value in a manufacturing setting, as well. Rather than having to return to a desktop computer, shop floor managers and other active users could access ERP functionality where they stand on their tablet or smartphone. This capability could be a great benefit to an organization. Just make sure that mobile really holds value for your organization before investing in the capability.
Justify the Necessity of Every Customization
Manufacturing ERP systems are typically highly customized because no two organizations use exactly the same manufacturing processes. That said, many manufacturing ERP solutions on the market today may meet your needs without you having to customize every feature. Look closely at the customization you plan to undertake to ensure that it’s truly necessary, because customization at installation also means customization in maintenance and upkeep, and it doesn’t take long for that to create burgeoning costs and time requirements that can derail any ERP project.
Integration Should Be Part of the Selection Process
One more selection criterion to keep in mind should be integration. Integrating an ERP application into existing systems requires a high degree of IT management and involvement. Some applications can be integrated more effectively than others, however, and vendors for applications already in place may be able to offer the desired ERP solution as an add‑on or extension of the product that’s already installed. Such an option makes integration faster and easier than it would be if your organization were to select a completely different vendor for its ERP solution. Even if you decide not to use the same vendor for customer relationship management and ERP, for example, consider how the integration process will affect the application you chose and the environment into which it is integrated.
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