The benefit of enterprise resource management software is that it gives manufacturers a broad top-down view of their operations in a number of ways. Depending upon how these platforms are being used, ERP can be used for everything from improving the efficiency of a physical inventory count to a company-wide employee time tracker. And interestingly, these issues can be applied to manufacturers across a number of different sectors, regardless of what they produce.

In fact, that includes manufacturers that produce, well, produce, according to a report from Iowa Farmer Today. Many farms and food production facilities are now looking to streamline their processes in much the same way many other manufacturers have, and the good news is that the principles in ERP are the same whether a company is churning out frozen corn or auto parts. The actual equipment they might use could vary widely, of course, but the way the data that equipment aggregates may potentially be functionally similar.

What does this mean?
Experts in the food production and farming industries now say incorporating this kind of software into their decision-making processes – that is, setting routes for tractors, determining the best times to use certain fields, etc. – can be vital to keeping costs as trim as possible. Many specifically recommend that ERP be used to both keep records and plan future work (especially outside of growing season). That, in turn, should help them reduce costs for everything from labor, raw materials, and fuel to seed and fertilizer.

"[This kind of technology should be implemented] across the board," Phil Jennings, manager at Kinze Manufacturing Service, told the publication. "Regardless of amount of acres, rented or owned."

An evolving option
However, it's also worth noting that ERP software options continue to grow and change at a rapid pace, according to a report from Manufacturing Business Technology Magazine. While ERP has been around for decades, the systems that are available today work much differently from how they did just a few years ago. As a result, the so-called "legacy" systems that are still somewhat prevalent in the industry are probably at least somewhat obsolete, and those using them could probably benefit from an upgrade in much the same way food producers can.

The question some may have, though, is whether companies are ready to embrace the future of ERP while also using it to get up to speed with current standards, the report said. How that affects each manufacturer will obviously vary based on their resources and capabilities, but even examining current situations can help to potentially put manufacturers in a better position to succeed in this regard.

The more work that can be done to consider ERP readiness, and what manufacturers need to do to improve their internal production processes, the better off they're likely to be in the long run. Incorporating ERP into as many aspects of a business as possible can help these systems pay for themselves.

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