Having a manufacturing business in the U.S. provides a number of advantages over operating a similar company in other parts of the world. As the single largest economy across the globe, the domestic market offers a high level of access to resources and capital, as well as technological advantages that are easier to seek out and implement. Business 2 Community pointed to some of these benefits, including automation functions and distribution technology, in a recent article about international expansion for manufacturers. While not all organizations are in a position to consider moving beyond domestic borders, those that are need to make sure they have a plan in place and the right hardware and software as well.

The consideration and planning period that comes before international growth is also a good time to consider expanding or updating a current enterprise resource planning system. Businesses that are going to start selling to foreign countries beyond Mexico and Canada will likely need some level of expanded distribution facilities and capacity. Whether this means having warehouses on both coasts of the U.S. or a more regionally based expansion to access more ports in a smaller area, enhanced ERP can help manage these operations. Having a mobile WMS system is one of the ERP functions that relates directly to growing operations, as it allows for freer inventory counting across multiple locations.

Choosing and using the right applications
For manufacturers that were exclusively domestic, adding international markets means a variety of new features will likely be required from a given ERP system. Companies that use a mobile platform such as Microsoft Dynamics NAV have an advantage over the more monolithic, all-in-one systems due to the better agility of component-based ERP. Because organizations can choose the between different iterations of similar modules to find the best fit for their unique needs, the end product is customized without the large time and cost requirements that sort of project usually creates.

Once a business has decided that expansion is a good idea, they need to create open lines of communication with vendors as well as make sure they're not neglecting the training aspect of a new system, according to CIO.com. Top-level vendors will be able to provide the advice needed to make such an effort a success.

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.