Your manufacturing company most likely has an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, or is considering one. While ERP is a critical component for any manufacturer, the selection, implementation and on-going support of an ERP can involve lots of people, products and companies.
Technology Pointe does not sell or partner with any ERP vendors, we are just here to help as your manufacturing CIO. We have experience with several ERP systems and have managed implementations for software such as:
- Infor Syteline & Cloudsuite Industrial
- Microsoft Dynamics
Here are a few common issues we see people run into as part of the selection process.
- Not talking to multiple implementation specialists
- One of the keys to a successful ERP experience is the implementation process. Not just transitioning from your existing system, but making sure you are following best practices for the new product and getting the right training. When you start narrowing your focus to one product, talk to at least 2 separate implementation providers. Even if you are feeling confident with your main choice. Just like visiting the doctor, a second opinion (or even a third) may point out something that was missed.
- Cloud vs on-site
- We're big proponents of the cloud, but there is a big catch with ERP products. The cloud version of an existing system may have significant restrictions or even be a completely different product. Common limitations for cloud-based versions can include more limited customization and integration capabilities.
- If you decide to go the cloud route and have any thoughts about possibly moving to the traditional (often called on-premise) model, make sure your contract provides that flexibility. You may run into some key functionality that cannot be handled by the cloud version and need to consider a transition.
- Not involving the right people
- Of course your production, shipping and accounting teams will be involved. But what about your engineering team who is designing the parts that are going to be entered into the ERP? What about marketing and sales who may want to integrate their CRM system into the ERP? And most importantly, what about your IT team, especially the CIO? An ERP is about business processes first, but it is still a piece of technology where the CIO should be one of your key implementation people. Just like you would not let IT drive the accounting process, do not let other departments (or the implementation team) manage the technology side of things without involving your IT team. Don't let "It is in the cloud, we do not need IT" be your famous last words when it comes time to integrate your new ERP with any other system.
- Plan on customization ahead of time
- No ERP system will provide every feature you need, customization will be needed in some form or fashion. Find out what you need as early in the process of possible, then determine what additional packages or software you need and who will be handling it. Your primary implementation partner may not be able to integrate your CRM for example, or you may need a more robust reporting tool. This can be one of the most troublesome and expensive parts of implementation due to poor planning.