The development of enterprise resource planning software as the one system manufacturers overwhelmingly turn to didn't happen overnight. Decades of work with different types of software and platforms led the vast majority of manufacturers – more than 90 percent, according to research from Aberdeen Group – has led to a consensus selection of ERP as the tool of choice in the industry. That being said, ERP hasn't been a static system in recent years. Many different structures and methods for building a system have developed, and there are plenty of different vendors as well. To make the most out a platform, here are a few pieces of advice:

  • Focus on the future: Manufacturing.net pointed out the folly of developing an ERP system based only on current needs. Because these platforms are intended to last in the long term, companies should make sure they're addressing potential future concerns as well. The problem with this approach and traditional ERP systems is the increased cost of adding more functionality when there's no immediate benefit in terms of revenue or productivity. To get the best of both worlds, companies should consider using a modular system such as Microsoft Dynamics NAV, which provides the ability to add individual components both during initial implementation and further down the line as well.
  • Don't settle for the average vendor: Most vendors won't provide a substantially poor service to their customers, but there are certainly differences between the middle-of-the pack providers and those on the top of the ladder. Potential customers should ask about a variety of issues, including the possibility of ongoing conversations, the terms of any long-range support provided and the potential cost and effectiveness of any upgrades. The best vendors will be able to not only initially install a system, but also provide the ongoing assistance that makes ERP truly effective.
  • Keep options open: Exact Software said a common self-imposed ERP limitation comes from businesses having closed minds when it comes to potential benefits and costs. By staying aware of the different modules and functionality that can be added to a platform, companies can obtain a far better return on investment than they would with a narrower approach.

Learn how to define your ERP strategy by downloading the white paper entitled "ERP in Manufacturing: Defining the ERP Strategy" from the DMS website today.