Selecting Your Next Manufacturing ERP Software System – Five Steps To Success

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Pandemic shutdowns, supply chain issues and growing customer demand have all changed the manufacturing industry over the past three years.

What does that mean for your company? The enterprise resource planning (ERP) system you depend on may no longer meet the demands of your business. If you haven’t upgraded your system recently, you could be missing out on key improvements in manufacturing and distribution technology.

The ERP system selection process can be daunting. From defining your business needs to finding and implementing a new software system, the process is undoubtedly time-consuming and expensive. Yet without going through a well-planned system selection process, your organization will miss out on key benefits.

Meeting The Increasing Demands For Product Availability And Delivery Reliability

manufacturing warehouse

When customer demand grows, organizations need to respond quickly. Otherwise, delivery reliability suffers.

Upgrading your transaction processing systems will help your organization meet customer needs. But do you need to implement an entirely new ERP system? Or can you update your existing system?

Before shopping around for ERP software, a warehouse management system (WMS), or a transportation management system (TMS), you’ll need to evaluate your current system along with your system requirements. Then, identify the gap between your current processes and your business goals to find the right solution.

Increase Efficiency By Automating Business Processes And Enabling Access To Reliable Data

The best manufacturing technology prioritizes efficiency. And automating your business processes means less redundancy and more productivity.

But you can’t make informed decisions without reliable data. So your first step is internal: your team needs to understand its current business processes to improve them.

#1 Take Baseline Measurements By Evaluating Your Current System And Identifying Deficiencies

Choosing the right ERP system starts with understanding your current processes. That means a complete review of all of your business processes.

Are there any steps that require double entry? What about manual entry? Could you improve processes with automation? How fast––and accurate––is your reporting? Are industry compliance requirements slowing down your efficiency?

After completing your review, identify the problems you need to solve. Call on key stakeholders to gain their buy-in. Then, summarize your results with a cost-benefit analysis.

Outline The Shape And Form Of Your ERP Selection And Implementation Project

Your baseline measurements and cost-benefit analysis will give you solid data on your ERP selection, and whether you need to upgrade your WMS or TMS systems.

Next, draft your implementation plan for a new ERP software system.

Assemble A Holistic And Widespread Project Team

You’ll need a dedicated project team to implement your new system. And choosing the right team members will set you up for success.

Ensure widespread representation on the team. Bring in members from the manufacturing, transportation, and distribution departments. You’ll also want representatives from the IT, business, and customer service teams. Make sure the people using the new ERP system are on the project team to help select and implement it.

#2 Ensure The Entire Team Understands How The ERP System Facilitates Communication And Collaboration

Manufacturing erp software

The right ERP system will facilitate communication and collaboration across your organization. And it’s important to get everyone’s buy-in during the selection and implementation process.

Early in the project––even before choosing a software––schedule ERP training sessions. Go over general principles and the goals of an ERP system. Video case studies can underscore the benefits of improving your ERP system. And professional associations like the Association for Supply Chain Management can provide valuable resources.

Enable Employees To Visualize The Possibilities And Scope Of The New System

Get employees on board by discussing the possibilities that exist with a new system. Learn what must-have features your employees want in the new system to refine your plan.

As your team visualizes the new system, highlight the benefits to get your team on board with the change.

Outline Specific Objectives For The Project In The Form Of A Requirements Definition

What are the must-have objectives with your new ERP? What features might be beneficial, but aren’t dealbreakers? And what capabilities are non-essential for your organization?

Lean on your executive team, project team, and users to gain as much data as possible about what you need from an ERP to find the right one.

#3 Choose A Solution Provider And Implementation Partner

Your analysis might indicate that you need a new ERP provider.

Take the valuable data you’ve gathered internally and identify potential systems. Reach out to possible partners to see whether they can meet your essential objectives.

#4 Successfully Implement Your ERP System

Implementing a new ERP system can be intimidating. But a successful implementation will pave the way for smooth business processes.

Your investment during the internal research process will pay off during implementation. Create a plan and empower your project team to track its implementation. Meet regularly to troubleshoot and track progress. Communicate with employees about the process. And schedule regular training sessions.

#5 Capture the Full Value of Your ERP Investment

Manufacturers looking at tech

Congratulations, you’ve successfully chosen and implemented your new ERP system –– and the organization has fully adopted its use to run the business.

As a core transaction system, your new ERP holds critical customer, supplier, financial, and operational data that can provide critical insights into performance improvement opportunities. To fully capitalize on the value of your ERP investment, manufacturers can put that data to work, gathering information from multiple data sources and taking advantage of business intelligence tools and machine learning models to uncover new ways to optimize their processes from the sourcing of raw materials to the sale of their finished products.

Speak With Hartman To Learn More About Selecting And Implementing An ERP

It takes an experienced leader to evaluate your current system(s) and determine if a new ERP is required to meet the needs of your internal and external stakeholders.  If it is in fact warranted, embrace this as an opportunity for transformation. Contact us to learn more about our ERP selection methodology and ensure the right system is selected and successfully implemented to meet your business needs today and in the future. 

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