In this special blog series, Navigating the ERP System Selection Process, we’ll review the steps manufacturers should be taking to select the right ERP vendor and set themselves up for success throughout implementation. Over the next few weeks, you’ll learn how to define and manage your ERP expectations, strategy and budget while selecting an ERP partner who is right for your business.
Early ERP systems were often adopted to help manage a single function within an organization, such as finance or order management. However, today’s broad-based ERP systems are designed with a gamut of operations in mind. That’s why, even if you have a current ERP system in place, it is important to envision how the technology can be leveraged to improve activities across your business.
Four of the most common business drivers among manufacturers are summarized below. They are intended to be used as a tool for prompting discussion around your organization’s ERP goals, which will help you build your business case and focus your efforts in the ERP selection process.
To improve business performance
While the priorities of improving a business’s performance will vary across organizations, there are a few core strengths that a new ERP system is sure to bring to the table.
One is transparency. When an order is placed, all authorized ERP users are able to see the order request and to follow its progress through the pipeline. Backed by real-time updates and automated workflows, productivity is increased and critical knowledge gaps are filled. The result? Customers get their orders fast and with fewer errors than in the past, and company leaders have the insights they need to make smarter business decisions.
To Ensure Compliance
For many industries, including medical device manufacturing, regulatory compliance is a critical component of running a business. Before ERP systems, this meant painstakingly maintaining spreadsheets and databases with the data required by regulatory bodies.
ERP systems eliminate much of the risk of error that is introduced with manual data tracking. With all departments working from one system, it is possible to track compliance throughout a product’s life cycle through functions like cradle-to-grave traceability and a complete audit trail of user activity. On top of this, ERP systems make it easier to track issues related to problem products or customer concerns so quality issues can be resolve more readily.
To Simplify Employee Tasks
Although there may be a learning curve, many companies adopt ERP systems in an effort to make their employees’ jobs easier. Many times, routine processes can be standardized or streamlined through ERP functionality, eliminating inconsistencies and errors that can creep in when manual processes are being handled by different workers using different procedures. With this infrastructure in place, employees spend less time performing labor-intensive tasks and can turn their focus to value-added, mission-critical activities.
To improve Integration Across Locations
In today’s global economy, it’s not uncommon for manufacturers to have multiple facilities, sometimes in multiple time zones or countries. Multi-site companies recognize the role technology can play in integrating co-located teams as well as communicating with remote employees, suppliers and customers. Importantly, ERP systems help organizations lay down standardized processes across different business units and, through configurable settings like units and language, localize the procedures to fit each site’s needs. ERP systems are often leveraged to simplify invoice processing across locations, which can reduce invoice shipping costs and minimize staff involvement. ERP-enabled invoicing also ensures that, like other critical data collected across sites, financial information is accessible anytime, anywhere, by authorized users.