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How An ERP System Optimizes The Product Development Process

Dec 20, 2017

Companies that are first-to-market get the best chances to win customers and establish a competitive edge. But you can’t shortcut your way there.

Developing new products is complex, expensive and risky — and success isn’t guaranteed. Fortunately, there are tools that can expedite the product development processes. For example, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution can help ensure that concepts are sound, milestones are hit, compliance is met, and profitability is probable.

How can one tool manage all that? The underlying advantage of an ERP is that it offers visibility into the entire organization, including product development and launch processes. Manufacturing and selling requires a lot of coordination, from R&D to purchasing and across your supply chain. An ERP gives you a consolidated view of all the activities and interdependencies that drive success.

In addition, an ERP provides reliable data to inform product development decisions (such as pricing and lead times), rather than gut instinct or guesswork.

An ERP can optimize new product development in six significant ways:

  1. Concept validation. If your new product doesn’t meet customers’ needs, you could have an expensive failure on your hands. How can an ERP prevent that? If you integrate it with a customer relationship management tool, you can solicit, store and analyze feedback during the concepting stage. Customers and prospects aren’t shy about sharing their opinions — so make sure you have a system for documenting your concept’s strengths and weaknesses, suggestions for improvement, consumers’ likelihood to buy and more.
  2. Development. Products are planned in exhaustive detail. And they require thousands of important decisions, like which vendors and materials to use. Your ERP system stores historical data about suppliers, materials, costs, performance and more, which you can use to select the best parts and partners.
  3. Prototyping. You can minimize prototyping timelines and costs with an ERP, since it contains insight from all your product iterations. With ERP data, you can reduce trial and error periods and find the right solution sooner.
  4. Scheduling. It’s easier to manage project goals, milestones, compliance requirements and tasks in an ERP. They’re all integrated and documented in real-time, so it’s more efficient and accurate than manual off-line tracking. Everything related to product development is in the ERP. If a problem pops up, program managers can start sourcing solutions right way, instead of spending hours digging through emails, files and conversation notes.
  5. Revenue and expense management. It’s hard to track all the costs that go into manufacturing a new product. And if you miss a step or an activity, then your cost (and pricing) could be off. In an ERP, the project team sees all the time, labor and costs involved in the process, from start to finish. That makes it easier to pinpoint the right pricing structure to ensure profitability.
  6. Communication and coordination. Accidentally leaving someone “out of the loop” can cause errors and send an entire project off track, wasting time and materials. An ERP provides a single version of the truth, so everyone works from the same, real-time playbook. That lowers the likelihood of mistakes and miscommunication.

How Wipfli can help

An ERP can help you get products to market faster — and with greater confidence in the concept and cost. So can we. Wipfli manufacturing and technology specialists can help you streamline product development with an off-the-shelf or customized ERP solution. We help you find the right technology to meet your business goals and get it up and running, fast. Contact us to get started today.

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Wipfli Editorial Team