The U.S. manufacturing economy continues to improve on the whole, with positive growth demonstrated across all major metrics. While July's preliminary numbers for overall production, new orders and employment didn't match the extremely high marks hit in June, they all still moved upward. Financial analysis firm Markit's early projection for July found no sign of the market weakening, according to Reuters. The firm's proprietary measurement, the U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index, currently sits at 56.3. Any number above 50 on the 100-point scale indicates positive growth. The overall annualized growth rate for manufacturing in the U.S. is approximately 8 percent, according to Markit.

This is obviously good news for domestic manufacturing businesses off all stripes. Companies that want to ride the wave of expansion need to make sure they have the right support systems in place, however. The continuing development of the production economy is a good reason for organizations to assess their current enterprise resource planning software and determine if it's still meeting all of the needs it's supposed to address. Smart businesses will also do some future-oriented analysis to make sure their ERP will – or won't – hold up in the face of possible expansion.

A modular approach for more effectiveness
Manufacturers that have realized it's time for an upgrade should strongly consider using a component-based ERP system such as Microsoft Dynamics NAV. This approach offers businesses the chance to tailor their systems to the needs of their market segment as well as individual operational requirements. A variety of different modules that focus on the same area of operations can be selected for the specific advantages they provide, whether its a mobile warehouse management system to handle multiple storage sites or time tracking software to better manage employees. Companies can also focus their spending with a component-based system, investing in priority areas at first and then adding more components to meet less-important needs later on.

In the manufacturing world there's no single process or component that is strongly desired by every company. Research from Aberdeen Group shows that there are many different driving factors for the use of ERP, which can often depend on the strengths and weaknesses of a given organization. Businesses that use a modular system have the best path to addressing their unique needs on a cost-effective basis.

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.