4 key tasks for manufacturing ERP selection

Today’s mission, if you choose to accept it, is to begin selecting an ERP system for your manufacturing business.  Where to begin? What are some of the most critical choices? It’s important to remember that each organization is different and will have needs that reflect these differences. Below are some starting points for your manufacturing ERP selection, but always keep in mind that your business will have its own unique list of tasks.

1. Gather requirements and prioritize them

Why are you even thinking of a manufacturing ERP?  Some event or change of the status quo brought you and your business to this point.  Get some of the key members of your team together and begin making a list of requirements.  Maybe your management wants to implement a lean manufacturing process – what does that mean for ERP?  You might see your business evolving from make to order to more of a make to stock manufacturer.  In some cases, your existing ERP is no longer maintainable and it is simply time for a new one.

This is the most important task.  Move quickly to formalize the requirements gathering.  Ask every user in the business, if possible, or get a reply from every user group.  This is an enterprise tool and your whole enterprise has requirements. Start quickly to prioritize the list with those needs you must have and at another level, those you would like to have.

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2. Consider your budget and resources

Few of us will get a blank check from the boss for this project.  You and your current teams will perform much of the work involved in both selecting and implementing a manufacturing ERP.  If the budget is small and resources are few, you might tend to consider an ERP that runs in the cloud so up-front expenses are avoided to some extent.  You might decide to move a few requirements below the “must have” line at this time. While your team is working on ERP, someone will need to support them so their day jobs are fulfilled.  There often are tasks that must be outsourced as no one on your team has the needed skills.

3. Business goals and objectives

Check with senior management to get a comprehensive set of goals.  You probably know most of these but some might not be prominent in the feature requirements.  These goals and objectives for your manufacturing business will likely affect some of the priorities you listed above.  You already have user requests. Management will have theirs too.

4. Company culture

This one is easily skipped but can be quite important when selecting a manufacturing ERP to fit your organization.  If yours is run by finance or engineering then your company might be extremely process-oriented and will be comfortable with an ERP that can be set up to run with the same precision.  Look for the ability to develop and install workflows that will lead users to follow those precise guides. Especially look for an ERP vendor who uses a similar kind of precision in their sales approach.  A vendor whose personnel follow a loose gabby style will be unlikely to get the confidence needed for your company culture.

Other things to consider

  • ERP technologies
  • Vendor reputation
  • Hardware and infrastructure technology
  • Ease of use
  • Process reengineering needs
  • Think of what you and your manufacturing business need
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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 customerteam@erpfocus.com.

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Tom Miller

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