Process Manufacturing ERP: Beginning the Search

So you’re looking for an ERP system and you are in the process manufacturing business. OK, where to start?

Don’t start by contacting a process manufacturing ERP vendor. Get a small, informal group together inside your business. The first step is examining who you are and why you want to implement ERP. Then you need to define goals for the ERP implementation. These will only be first draft goals at this time. You must have the foundation before you start framing your house.

Why are you thinking of a new process manufacturing ERP system? Maybe your old one was obsolete 15 years ago. There was only one person you had who could maintain it. And you just got back from his funeral. Maybe your #1, #2, and #3 customers have all said you need to upgrade or they will find a new supplier. On the other hand, you may just feel among yourselves it is time to upgrade.

Time to Organize

What is your unique selling proposition? Why are you in business? You certainly do not want to take any action to jeopardize your position. Do you have *improvements you want and hope that the new ERP system will contribute? You need to clearly state the objectives, quantify the desired result and specifically state how the new ERP will help.

What is your position in process manufacturing? This business can range from making the same product all day every day for months only stopping for equipment maintenance. Then you return to more months of the same product again. You may also make a batch of a product today for a specific customer order, set up the machinery and make a batch of something else for another customer. Process manufacturing means you cannot undo your process and return the recipe ingredients back to inventory - adding even more pressure on an already strained ERP system.

Who is going to lead the upgrade process? Implementing any ERP is a major undertaking and will require more of all your resources than you can probably imagine at this time. Who else in your organization will need to spend their time working on the project? You have selected a few key people, but who is going to do their day jobs while they are working on the ERP implementation?

Now that these conversations are complete, it is time to organize a formal group or team or teams. Your new team’s first action is to begin thoroughly researching process manufacturing ERP.

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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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