What do Manufacturers look for in an ERP

Whitepaper: What Do Manufacturers Look for in ERP Software?

Choosing new manufacturing ERP software that includes great general ledger, accounts payable, cash management, etc., is fairly easy. Decision makers should look for features like easy inter-company transactions perhaps for a complicated process, great reporting and drill-down capabilities. The manufacturer has a much greater challenge. In the last 20 years I have been selling manufacturing solutions and nine times out of ten, the business leaders are not concerned with how the GL or any of the financial modules work. They ask if the software has financial modules and do they work. Often our demonstrations end with financials, or we schedule them for another day, since really what the prospect wants to see is how the software will handle their manufacturing operations.

I came across this whitepaper by Nick Castellina, the VP and Research Group Director at the Aberdeen Group and thought I would share some of the results of a survey focused on manufacturing leaders: What do Manufacturers Look For in an ERP Solution? I have been following Nick’s work for a long time. He provides insightful information for the manufacturing and distribution industries. Read more

Skip the Pain with Acumatica ERP

Start and End with Acumatica

This article is going to try to sell you something and I do hope that if you are a small to mid-sized company you don’t let that turn you off and read the rest of this article.  I have been selling business software to manufacturers and distributors for 20 years.  If I am selling into the small to mid-sized companies, I often find that the reason they need new software is because they can’t function on their old legacy system. These systems can range from a custom database for operations, and QuickBooks for accounting, or software that even I have never heard of.  The focus of the business has been developing a customer base and ensuring plant equipment and inventory as the top priority.  They are talking to me because they are in pain due to the lack of the tools needed to do business in today’s world.  Why not start with a decent software solution at the before your huge growth cycle?  This really has not been possible until now with the cloud ERP solutions like Acumatica a FULL featured business software that can be used on ANY device.  Please read on… Read more

Choosing Inventory Software

Selecting Inventory Control Software

Selecting a new accounting software package can be a monumental task that nearly every C level professional has had to do or will have to do sometime during their career.   Add inventory control and manufacturing to the list of requirements and the task can be even more challenging. Company executives don’t want to under or over buy an ERP solution.  The goal should be to have a solution that won’t require a major upgrade for a few years (even on a SaaS model), and flexible enough to meet all the business needs over the next 3 – 5 years.  In our current business environment acquisitions are fairly common, which means the software you buy today may need to run a completely different line of business in the future.   Read more

Benefits of ERP

6 Manufacturing Problems ERP Solves

6 Manufacturing Problems ERP Solves Manufacturers face various challenges every single day. The challenges may vary from one manufacturer to another. However, there are common problems facing all the manufacturers alike. Some of these issues can be addressed using personalized company policies or well-designed SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures)  while others can be addressed by implementing […]

NAV Resources Every IT Manager Should Have For Performance Optimization

Dynamics NAV Process Improvement BlogsWhile it is commonplace for Clients First to write about Microsoft Dynamics NAV’s functionality, and useful tips, a community of Dynamics NAV MVP’s exists that we wanted to share.  They deliver content on Dynamics NAV performance optimization, and troubleshooting.   Read more

Researching the Cost of Dynamics NAV?

Woman contemplating price of NAV

Dynamics NAV does not come in a box with a bar code, so it’s difficult to get a true definitive price before an actual quote or implementation.  Reason being, no two businesses are the same, the standard factors affecting ERP implementations are usually coupled with many different elements that drive different levels of customization and affect ERP implementation costs. However, there are several buying options that can help any CEO or CFO know NAV’s ballpark price before entering negotiations with any partner.  Even though the research can seem daunting, 110,000 businesses have already implemented this powerful business software.

In the “What’s my price?” e-book, Microsoft presents the factors a business person should take into account to determine the total cost of implementing Dynamics NAV.  Below find many of the factors that affect ERP implementation costs, including a few of those often overlooked: Read more

manufacturing erp

Is a Manufacturing ERP Right For Your Small Business?

“I don’t need a manufacturing ERP system to run my business.” Probably, this was the first thought that crossed your mind after reading the title above. But before making a final decision, you should read the rest of this post. Read more

3D Printing

3D Printing and The Future of The MRO Industry

Manufacturing products without a factory would have seemed impossible a few years ago. However, the “impossible” is slowly taking shape thanks to additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing. This relatively new technology is ready to deliver a small, “mobile” factory to every OEM, MRO, and repair shop. In fact, a number of businesses are embracing additive manufacturing as a temporary or permanent manufacturing solution, as you read these lines.

3D Printing: The Future Is Just Around the Corner  

Although 3D printing technology can be used by anyone, from regular people to industry giants, sustainable growth is expected to come from industrial applications, especially in the OEM and MRO sectors. That’s simply because only a large company has the financial power to design, craft, and test multiple prototypes to finally develop a product that customers will want to buy. But this is only half of the OEM-MRO equation. The other half relates to the impact additive manufacturing will have on the MRO industry.

Additive manufacturing technologies deliver incredible flexibility. To begin with, a MRO company will be able to develop “instant” spare parts and complete maintenance and repair tasks within hours. Imagine an airline looking for a MRO able to repair an airplane that has broken down unexpectedly. Instead of waiting days or even weeks for parts to arrive, the MRO can manufacture the parts needed outright and fix the airplane within several hours.

3D Printing

Manufacturing parts for scheduled maintenance and repairs or, more importantly, for unplanned events, with virtually no wasted materials, will help MROs reduce downtime and operating costs. Another major motivator for additive manufacturing technology adoption is the ability to produce hard-to-find spare parts or components that aren’t manufactured anymore.

The International Space Station’s 3D Print project is one edifying example of spare parts production using additive manufacturing. The first 3D printer was launched to the space station in September 2014. On November 24, 2014, the first “space” object was successfully manufactured using 3D printing technology. According to NASA officials, additive manufacturing is useful especially when spare parts aren’t available or when inventory is extremely expensive to ship. This technology brings several performance and efficiency advantages, regardless of whether a maintenance company or department is located on Mars or on Earth.

Additive manufacturing may seem too futuristic to become standard. However, the acceptance of this technology as a source of spare parts will change the course of MRO history. A maintenance company will be able not only to manufacture simple or complex parts and difficult-to-achieve geometries, as required; it can also develop prototypes to modify equipment and achieve quicker repair times.

Undoubtedly, the ability to manufacture parts on demand will affect inventory and logistics. MROs will no longer have to order spare parts from manufacturers and keep dozens of “just-in-case” replacement components on hand until the right clients come along. Whenever they need a product, they can just make it. This will probably cause a collapse of the entire supply chain, making part suppliers and even manufacturers vulnerable to extinction.

By eliminating the need for high-volume production, 3D printing shows its worth in terms of reducing production costs. Additionally, it increases part availability at the point of use and decreases shipping-, inventory-, and labor-related expenses. Although this brings bad news for a number of businesses, additive manufacturing will add new efficiencies to the operations of MROs and their clients. In conclusion, what additive manufacturing does is to dissolve the global supply chain, which costs MROs billions of dollars every year, re-assembling it as a local system, at a much lower cost.

In the following years, additive manufacturing will radically change the OEM and MRO environment. Analysts predict that the additive manufacturing market will grow to $16 billion by 2018. More and more companies, especially MROs, are expected to invest in 3D printers to produce parts as needed. But to achieve the forecasted outcomes, digital design software must evolve and more advanced and affordable scanners must be developed. On the other side, manufacturers must find a way to protect themselves against the negative consequences of this technology. For sure, 3D printing will tip the scales in someone’s favor. Who will be the winner? Only time will tell.

Applications for Profitable Projects

Upgrading ERP software

Upgrading Your ERP Software in 2015

Organizations not keen on agile operations are usually resistant to upgrading ERP systems. Installing a new system brings about unprecedented changes, turmoil and complexity. However, every software has a lifespan and sooner or later, you will need to upgrade your ERP.

Over time, ERP systems lose their crispness and their capabilities start declining. Your competitors start getting a slight edge over your organization and if you don’t upgrade, output can significantly reduce due to inefficiencies.

Upgrading ERP Software

You will realize there is a decline in your ERP performance when  output and revenues reduce and errors are encountered frequently. Below are five warning signs that you should upgrade your ERP in 2015:

  1. Your ERP Does Not Fit Your Business Processes

If employees are struggling to adapt your business processes to fit the ERP, then you need to upgrade. When the EPR was installed, it was meant to make business processes more efficient; not the other way round. However, over the years your business’ best practices may evolve rendering the ERP irrelevant for many processes.

When the ERP is not flexible to adapt to changing practices, employees will find a workaround. When some tasks are handled manually, efficiency reduces and data inconsistencies are likely to occur. In such a case, you should think of upgrading your solution to a modern one.

  1. Your Business Costs Have Increased

As your business grows, some processes may become irrelevant. On the same note, new departments may be created and old ones pruned or merged with others. Such changes are expected in any dynamic business and may make the initial total cost of ownership of your existing ERP irrelevant. Upgrading your existing legacy solution may become necessary to address such changes.

Modern ERP licenses are highly competitive and flexible. For example, most new ERP solutions are based on cloud technology and served on a SaaS model. The SaaS model enables organizations to “pay-for-consumption” for the extent of services they need.

As you choose an ERP software, you should not only watch your initial installation and recurring charges, but also consider how the system will perform compared to your existing solution.

  1. The ERP Does not Support Cloud Computing

Your organization may not have already moved to the cloud but it is only a matter of time before it does. When migrating to the cloud, ERP upgrading becomes essential. There are many advantages of cloud ERP. For example, cloud ERP eliminates much of the infrastructure maintenance, security issues and upgrades of the software from your organization. The vendor is responsible for handling the technical side of the infrastructure.

Cloud ERP solutions allow many concurrent users to access the system at one time and from anywhere they are connected to the Internet. This saves the organization from investing in additional hardware for more users like legacy solutions require.

  1. Staffing and Vendor Reliance

When your current system was installed, it is likely that many IT staffers understood how to use it optimally for different processes in your organization. However, over the years, customization and IT staff turnover may have left you with only a few users that truly understand how to configure and use the system. What will happen if these staff were to be hired by your competition?

If your organization is at a point where only a handful or employees understand the ERP and are irreplaceable, it’s time for an upgrade.

  1. People Start Working Outside the ERP System

When your business processes and activities change and the ERP can no longer support them, employees start creating their own ways of working. For example, consider a situation where your organization adds a product line or process that cannot be accommodated by the legacy solution.

Here, users will resort to using private databases or traditional spreadsheets. This creates a process management island inside your organization that is not supported by the ERP system.The result is having multiple silos of information that cannot be integrated into the system. Problems such as data inconsistencies are common with organizations that have multiple information silos.

If any of the above red flags are evident when you evaluate your current ERP system, it may be time for an upgrade.

Enterprise Mobility Solutions

Warehouse Management ERP

The Benefits of Warehouse Management ERP

Early inventory management systems were designed to provide basic stored item and storage location functionality. Today, modern warehouse management ERP systems can do much more, allowing companies to continuously improve their operational efficiency.

Some of the best solutions to manage warehouse operations are the warehouse management modules included in advanced ERP systems, such as Microsoft Dynamics AX. Unlike separate software applications, ERP systems employ innovative technologies that enable organizations to connect all sorts of areas to each other for better business management. Large organizations, in particular, could hardly function without this type of functionality.

Warehouse Management Goes Beyond Day-to-Day Warehouse Operations

With solutions like Dynamics AX, companies can easily centralize a series of tasks, such as tracking stock locations, checking inventory levels, and monitoring picking and packing activities. Here is what complex warehouse management modules, such as the one included in Dynamics AX, can do for your company:

Warehouse Management ERP

  • Efficient storage administration – New warehouse management functionality permits important indicators to be monitored within the ERP framework. As a result, complex warehouse operations can be easily managed and optimized. The latest modules include radio frequency technology, integrated shipping, work-in-progress tracking, batch and serial number management, returns management, and many other features, indicating a new standard for warehouse operational transparency and accuracy within a facility. Focusing on real-time stock control, special functionality has been added to allow manufacturers to identify exactly what is in a warehouse and balance the inventories of multiple storage facilities at any given time.
  • Increased productivity – A complex warehouse management ERP system with advanced warehouse management functionality can help you get more out of your activities. Operatives will complete more tasks during the same time frame, which means better availability, quicker turnarounds, and higher return on investment.
  • Lower costs – An ERP system not only simplifies warehouse operations (e.g. your workers will be able to verify inventory levels without doing any physical checks, managers can coordinate activities with just a few clicks, etc.); it also ensures greater accuracy. There is always a risk of data redundancy when multiple separate systems are used. This can lead to errors that will cost you money. With Dynamics AX, on the other side, information is updated in real time across the entire company, so there are no discrepancies that may cause errors. Eliminating errors and rework will lower your operational costs.
  • Customization – Another important strong point of Dynamics AX is the possibility to choose modules and customize them to better fit your operations. For instance, you can choose to integrate the warehouse management module with the quality control module to prevent storing the items that have not passed the quality test in the warehouse. Specific features can be enabled to use cross-docking functionality, set up company policies for sales and transfer orders to and from warehouses, allocate batch/lot numbers for better warehouse management, etc. More modules and features can be added later on, as needed.
  • Better customer service – Having a sophisticated warehouse management ERP solution in place can help ensure that you always have sufficient quantities of products in stock. As shown above, it can also help reduce redundancies, errors, and rework, which will result in better customer service.

One of the most important things for a manufacturer is customer satisfaction. One way to make your customers happy is to embark on process-improvement initiatives. In many cases, this means the implementation of a cutting-edge ERP solution that includes innovative technologies to help companies improve customer service without increasing operating costs.

Despite what many manufacturers think, using two or more systems cannot help a company streamline its processes and achieve better outcomes. Instead, a fully integrated, end-to-end ERP solution including warehouse management functionality can provide companies with tangible, repeatable results quickly, results that will translate into significant cost savings and more business over the long run.