Understand needs versus features with ERP

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Enterprise resource planning software is a standard application for manufacturers, fabricators and warehousing operations – and the larger a company is, the more likely the management insight provided by such programs will be needed.

A statistic from Aberdeen Group shows just how common these platforms are. Close to 75 percent of all manufacturers use some form of ERP software. Because manufacturers have so many different needs, extending from productivity on the production line to broad spectrum functional and financial insight for managers and decision-makers, ERP is uniquely suited to help businesses in the field maintain and improve efficiency. However, companies need to make sure they select and use the right platform, one that allows businesses to address all of their unique operational requirements.

A recent article in Computer World shows that not all ERP is created equal nor can all types of organizations utilize it equally. The city of San Diego, California, has experienced significant time delays with a recent implementation, mostly because the specific applications selected did not match up well with the needs of various municipal departments. The system was originally geared toward the city's financial needs and functioned well in that regard. But the expansion of the system to other parts of the city's operations has led to long turnaround times and low morale among employees.

Go modular and plan ahead
In most instances, choosing the wrong components for an ERP system will result in negative impacts that drag down the advantages these systems provide. There are simple and effective steps businesses can take to avoid these pitfalls, however. Choosing an open, modular system like Microsoft Dynamics NAV, along with some internal planning and strategizing with the vendor, can help craft a particularly useful ERP system that helps an organization achieve its goals.

Top vendors of ERP modules will help businesses select the right components for their systems – focusing on major needs with more in-depth solutions and also addressing less-pressing requirements with cost-effective add-ons that allow businesses to improve operations while keeping ERP spend low. The right ERP system, and the right modules, allow businesses to remain competitive and find ways to save time and money. But time needs to be spent choosing the right way to establish the system and choose the most effective components.