How to Select Process Manufacturing ERP

It is time to make your ERP selection. You and the other stakeholders have reached agreement on the critical requirements that must be covered by the selection. You have a prioritized list of other wishes for the ERP. Some of these are requirements for certain disciplines and others are desires people hope to accomplish with the ERP. You have also agreed on the value of the requirements for the company as a whole. Finally, your finance department were included in the selection group. They were, weren’t they?

You have probably looked at the marketing-heavy websites from some ERP vendors and maybe even done a little research into the selection process by now. An easy distinction between manufacturing ERP systems is whether they are for process or discrete businesses, or both. You can quickly de-select those for discrete only. But remember that many can manage both kinds of business well, so don’t limit the search to only those that advertise process manufacturing.

Making the Final Choice

Now try to narrow the search to those that serve your particular market. Cosmetics and chemicals are both process manufacturers but their needs don’t completely overlap. Invite a couple to present their products and let them know your requirement priorities. Question seriously if they seem to gloss over areas you think important. Talk with your peers too. What ERP did they select? Why? What problems did they find with the system or with the providers and their services?

Now is the time to think about whether you require an ERP on-premise or whether a cloud system might work well for you. There are ERP systems in both arenas that likely can meet your needs. Cloud systems require a lot less up front investment which is good but you are still essentially renting the system.

Arrange for demonstrations of the actual systems – not just marketing presentations. Make sure you see that your requirements can be met to your satisfaction. You might even visit a live site to see if the user interface is as good as advertised in the eyes of real users. Whatever medium you use to view the ERP, be sure your whole team gets to see their requirements met. If production is completely satisfied but quality is not, keep looking.

Finally, you make your choice. You have run the numbers and the return on your investment in the new tools is right. Your implementation team is ready and you have the beginnings of a testing plan and timeline. The probabilities are with you. But success is not yet certain. Do your best, but be prepared to start over if necessary. Do not implement the wrong ERP just to save yourself embarrassment.

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Tom Miller

About the author…

Tom completed implementations of Epicor, SAP, QAD, and Micro MRP. He works as a logistics and supply chain manager and he always looks for processes to improve. He lives near San Francisco Bay in California and can be found on the water in his kayak or on the road riding his motorcycle. Contact Tom at

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Tom Miller

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