Selecting the Right Process Manufacturing ERP System

Having begun your search for a process manufacturing ERP solution and produced a shortlist, it is now time to begin conversations with potential ERP vendors. These conversations will be the culmination of your requirements gathering, shortlisting and ERP research processes. Make them count. This is your chance to assess vendor suitability against your carefully created process manufacturing ERP criteria.

You documented these at the first step. Which ERP vendors seem to support your goals? Which products truly address your segment of process manufacturing?

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

You already talked with other businesses in your segment. Which process manufacturing ERP systems were well-liked? Which ones got poor reviews? Was the poor review caused by bad software or support, or was the business poorly prepared to implement a process manufacturing ERP system? You should grill your ERP vendors on these issues, take them outside of their comfort zone and ask them the difficult questions that need to be asked.

Another choice here is the delivery system. Many ERP’s are provided through cloud delivery methods; you use the system over the internet. Many others are traditional; you install the system on your own server. Both options have advantages. Many cloud systems run a SaaS model which will only cost your monthly “rent” with little or no upfront cost. Traditional systems are yours, you get some distance between you and the vendor and might have a feeling of better security. Relate these platforms back to your requirements; will they support factory floor mobile access? Will they run seamlessly at multiple locations? Does the pricing model support rapid expansion of requirements or system scale?

Another consideration is that the choice might not make any difference in the long run. You don’t know what you don’t know. Yes, you have goals and a unique selling proposition. But there is a chance that after implementing your new ERP you will learn more about how ERP influences your process manufacturing practices and that knowledge could have led to a different choice.

There isn’t any one right way to make your process manufacturing ERP selection. Use your favorite decision support tools and narrow the list to a handful or fewer. Get formal proposals from those. Watch out for the hard sell, sit back in your own group and evaluate the proposals yourselves. Reduce the list to your finalist. Make counter proposals and reach an agreement with your vendor. My primary caution here is: Remember, this is your ERP you will use as a tool to manage your business. I believe you need to be in charge of the implementation yourself. Some vendors might suggest they already know the best methods and will remove the burden. Use them as support but do the work yourself. You will learn how the system screens really work together and you will make the decisions on how to set up various parameters. Be sure the contract language supports you.

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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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