Manufacturers Beware: Not all ERP Solutions are Created Equal

Research firm Aberdeen Group released a report this year (Grow Your Manufacturing Operations by Selecting Easy-to-Use ERP) that revealed the number one challenge facing manufacturers today is “managing growth expectations.” According to the study, “As organizations grow, they are faced with more complex operations, and incur increased costs that must be minimized. In cases such as these, manufacturers should rely on their technology environment and access to accurate data in order to do much of the heavy lifting.”

The technology environment they’re referring to is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. The report goes on to say that top performing manufacturers select ERP systems that “support effective and agile decision making to support their growth strategies.”

Growth Quandary  
In the case of company growth, too much of a good thing too fast is not always best. The more an organization grows, the tougher it is to contain costs, maintain efficiency and customer service, and operate in an organized and uniform manner. Also, a significant number of today’s manufacturers do not have access to real-time information for their organizations, which can slow decision-making and operations.

Aberdeen Group, September 2015

Despite the fact that 97% of leading manufacturers are using ERP solutions to manage their businesses, there seems to be a problem with many of these applications since many of today’s manufacturers don’t have a solution that provides them with timely and relevant information.

Selection Criteria  
So how do the top manufacturers select their ERP systems? The number one criterion in the decision-making process is functionality, with ease of use being the second most sought after feature.

According to the report by the Aberdeen Group, “A functional solution will ensure that the manufacturer can continue to operate efficiently while maintaining process standards, support growth by ensuring that operations don’t spiral out of control, and ensure that data is collected and provided as the organization needs. If a solution is not functional, an organization will really have no use for it.”

Yet many ERP vendors sacrifice functionality by leading with applications that appear to be easy to use. Unfortunately, they are “pitching” a system they will soon outgrow. Too many companies, all with good intentions, still fall for this mistake and it happens at the time when they need the functionality the most. It’s important that you deeply investigate ERP stated functionality and do not fall victim to this trap. Functionality should always be the number one criterion.

How user friendly the ERP system is cannot be understated, and will play a key role in determining how successful the companies’ use of the ERP system will be. Users of the system need to be able to find and interact with the information they need, and do it easily and quickly.

Modules and Making ERP Usable  
How do top performing manufacturers standardize operations, stay organized, and manage an organization as it grows and becomes increasingly complex? We have the answer in one word: modules.

Warning: Before comparing ERP systems based on their stated modules, it is vital to be aware that a module in one ERP system does not equate to a module in another. In other words, the General Ledger, Inventory Control, or Purchasing modules in one ERP can offer significant differences in functionality as compared to the same modules in another ERP. As mentioned earlier, it’s important that you deeply investigate ERP stated functionality.

Full disclosure: The Lake Companies has designed several successful modules and offers a whole ecosystem of intelligent, interconnected enterprise software solutions. The foremost are Shop-Trak, Doc-Trak and Beacon-Trak which greatly enhance the capabilities of Infor SyteLine (CloudSuite Industrial). They are game changing solutions that are used across the entire organization, from the office to the shop floor. In order to get a solid reputation from top performing manufacturers, applications must be highly functional. The Lake Companies invests immensely in applications that are simple, elegant, and powerful. Our software solutions are huge time and cost savers, providing best-in-class management solutions. Contact us today to learn more about all of our highly efficient solutions.

The report from the Aberdeen Group says, “Leading manufacturers have implemented more modules of ERP at a higher rate than followers. These modules are built to support specific business processes that can help a manufacturer become more effective.”

Furthermore, “Leaders are 38% more likely to enable users to access information, analysis and reports in a self-service capacity. Rather than relying on IT, end users can easily access the information they need. Many times, this is facilitated through dashboards or homepages that are specifically configured based on an employee’s role. Additionally, usable ERP does not just make it easy for users to find information, but also to share it.”

In order to facilitate growth, an ERP system has to be usable. At The Lake Companies, we stand by Infor SyteLine (CloudSuite Industrial), combined with our ecosystem of seamlessly integrated modules. They are proven scalable for manufacturers who’s annual revenue ranges from a few million dollars to multi-billion dollars and are designed to easily support the needs of manufacturers in Industrial Machinery and Equipment, Metal Fabrication, Precision Machining, Medical Devices, High Tech & Electronics, Aerospace & Defense, and much more. With flexible deployment options like On-Premise, Hosted, or Cloud, our suite is built to increase your efficiency, with a shorter implementation time, requiring fewer IT resources to maintain.

Many of our clients are leaders in their industries and we invite you to read what they have to say about us and the products we create and support. We are here to give manufacturers like you an unfair advantage to succeed.