For many businesses, especially those in manufacturing, enterprise resource planning can deliver a far more functional and centralized operation than with maintaining legacy systems. There are many benefits associated with using ERP, such as improving efficiency over the long haul, using improved technology to increase the quality of the products made and better accessibility to important data regarding any given process to all employees including those on the factory floor. There are many ERP solutions out in the field, each suited to the specific needs of a company or industry. These vary from full-scale solutions to plug-ins available for use within these services, such as timekeeping software for use in Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Making the right decision for implementation can make a difference between realizing the benefits of the concept along with gaining a competitive edge and suffering setbacks as a firm.
Understanding the functions
The customizability of ERP solutions – especially products in tiers I and II that are specifically designed for large and midmarket enterprises – means that companies do not have to completely change their business models to suit the needs of the solution. Instead, they can correlate the features of the system so it ideally fits all operations within a company’s purview. However, in order for the solution to make sense, the business should conduct a full-scale audit of the entire business, according to CIO.com. That will mean doing several things in order to have a comprehensive understanding of how the company functions. For example, all documentation should be reviewed to see how employees learn to use and troubleshoot the equipment for their jobs, especially if there are multiple languages spoken on the shop floor in a larger operation. How each step of a product’s creation is recorded and tracked should also be assessed, because either ERP software will need to be adjusted based on the current standards or the standards will have to change during the transition.
Finding out what works
After assessing what companies actually need, the time will come to look at different ERP solutions to see what fits based on overall functions. From there, a good selection methodology becomes essential for finding the right product, as noted by ERPfocus. For example, most companies may look at the cost and basic functionality of the software first and foremost. However, cost should only be considered to the degree that it avoids overhead, while many of the basic features that are useful to enterprise resource planning are already covered by all currently available solutions.
Instead, the focus should be on industry uses and experience. Certain ERP solutions, even those by the same brand, may be tailored specifically for different industries such as construction and health care rather than manufacturing. From there, a good idea is writing out a boilerplate request for information from each software vendor that fits most appropriately to the business, based on user requirements, resources and budget. The responses should deliver a clearer picture of what solution is most favorable to company, leading to further inquiry and possible selection. For broad ERP solutions such as Dynamics NAV, additional consultations may be necessary to fill gaps specific to the company’s operations.
To discuss Microsoft NAV solutions for manufacturing, join the Microsoft Dynamics NAV for Manufacturing LinkedIn group.