Seeing technology revolutionize operations isn’t something new for manufacturers.
The first Industrial Revolution in the 1700s, powered by water and steam, gave birth to manufacturing.
Then came electricity and assembly lines, which added speed during Industry 2.0 in the 1800s. Then automation in the 1900s kicked off Industry 3.0 and revolutionized efficiency in manufacturing.
Today — Industry 4.0 with the internet, cloud technology and big data — is the era of “smart” manufacturing.
Can you imagine how long it would take to build a car by hand — if cars would even exist — if manufacturers hadn’t been quick to adopt emerging technologies?
Today, it’s easier than ever for manufacturers to update their systems during Industry 4.0 so they don’t have to work harder by relying on outdated systems.
To take advantage of new tech, modern Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions are harnessing data so manufacturers can make better decisions, faster.
Here are the signs that your ERP system is outdated.
1. Lack of real-time data
When gaining a competitive advantage relies on speed-to-market and critical decision-making during the production process, every minute counts.
Time is money and digging through data is tedious and time-consuming.
Employees on the production floor or in the front office can’t be sitting around waiting for reports to be generated to make their next moves. Modern manufacturing ERPs can give individual users access to the reports they need at the click of a mouse from their own dashboards.
Cloud access and mobility features are also important for those in the field, whether for your sales team, remote employees, or technicians serving a client. Having up-to-date business intelligence about inventory levels, sales orders, where things are in the production cycle, and access to a knowledge base is critical.
Your ERP system should allow access at the touch of a button (and on any mobile device) to these and other types of information to help you make better decisions, capture more sales, and satisfy customers.
2. Too complex for users
Is everyone across your organization comfortable using your ERP software...if they use it at all? Or are you finding more and more employees using workarounds to accomplish tasks that your ERP system should be capable of handling? You also may find yourself hiring software programmers to write new capabilities into your ERP software. Inevitably, such efforts will likely make it even more complex, leading to less user adoption, not more.
ERP products today are equipped with interfaces that are intuitive and include customizable reporting tools with accessibility from anywhere, making them easy to “catch on to” and use. Plus, reputable ERP providers will include training as part of their ERP implementation and provide support to encourage user adoption. Lack of employee buy-in and chronic complaints about how challenging a system is and how much time it takes to enter and extract data are tell-tale signs of an ineffective ERP solution.
3. Reliance on multiple platforms
One of the biggest benefits of ERP is its ability to minimize duplicate data and duplicate work. A major goal of any ERP system is to create efficiencies and make sure everyone’s on the same page and working together as a team toward the same goals. When individuals and departments use multiple systems or add-on tools that aren’t integrated into your ERP system, it’s a recipe for disaster.
If you resort to using Microsoft Excel, non-integrated systems such as Quickbooks, or a separate customer relationship management (CRM) tool, you’re likely squandering away productivity and profitability.
Modern ERP systems unite various departments with a single technology solution rather than allowing them to operate in silos with their own management tools. But that doesn’t mean you need to abandon systems that are working for you. If you love using QuickBooks, for example, newer ERP technologies can integrate seamlessly with many existing platforms.
4. Still performing manual processes
In an age when reliance on computers and online connectivity has become a part of our daily lives and imperative for business success, it’s amazing how many manufacturers still rely on manual business processes.
Finance may run manual month-end reconciliation reports, Sales may send orders through interoffice mail, and engineers may route papers for approvals with no way of tracking where they are in the approval process or who’s desk they’re sitting on.
ERP technology is intended to automate labor-intensive processes and keep workflows running smoothly. When your ERP fails to achieve these most basic functions, it’s time to look at an upgraded system.
5. Lack of support
As legacy systems age, they often require more calls to the software vendor’s customer support center or help desk.
To resolve issues, technicians often need to perform upgrades or maintenance.
Eventually, however, the computing power of older systems simply can’t keep up with the mountains of data that are generated in today’s business climate.
This can lead to slower performance, increased downtime, and susceptibility to security breaches or cyberattacks. Some ERP applications may even become obsolete or no longer be supported.
A lack of available support isn’t just a problem with legacy ERP systems; it’s also critical to ensure your new ERP has people who will be there to stand behind it. And choosing the right ERP vendor is just as important as choosing the right ERP software. They can help you through each phase, including discovery, selection, implementation, customization, user training, and ongoing support.
If you’ve determined that it’s time to look at ERP options for your manufacturing company, look for a consultant who specializes in the unique needs that your business presents. The experts at Wipfli have experience and expertise in the manufacturing industry and can help you further realize the benefits of today’s ERP solutions. Reach out to them today to schedule a complimentary assessment and consultation.