Fabrication is a tough business. Commodities prices fluctuate rapidly, offshoring creates new competition, and new technologies present additional risk. It’s a perfect storm, and to weather it, you need to balance customer-centric business practices with demand for cost optimization, speed, and flexibility.
Following our last blog discussing some of the things that fabrication companies including job shops and project fabricators should look for in an ERP solution, we would today like to turn our attention to the ERP landscape and ask: Is Cloud ERP right for you?
What’s Changed Since You Last Looked at ERP?
When you look for a business management solution designed for your fabrication business, you may think the options are limited. Decades ago, a few solutions popped up specializing in ERP for companies like yours and have become the ‘de facto’ options you consider.
However, in the past decade, new options have popped up allowing businesses to leverage easy customization, powerful integration, and increased flexibility. Considered part of the push to “Postmodern ERP,” cloud vendors have matured to provide new options, meaning that you no longer are forced to work with the bulkiness and lack of control offered by the status quo of fabrication ERP.
Today, these cloud products are not only flexible enough to satisfy your exact needs, they can integrate with solutions you currently use to make your job easier and your company faster.
Three Questions to Ask Yourself to Determine if Your Fabrication Company Needs the Cloud
If you are in the market for ERP, the last time you likely looked was the early 2010s (or earlier). This said, a lot has changed since then. Unfortunately, most of the options haven’t changed—the ‘old guard’ of the fabrication ERP industry still offers the same on-premises options you looked at last time. However, if you are looking to advance your fabrication business, the cloud may be right for you. Here are three questions to ask to determine whether or not you are ready for the cloud.
How Quickly Can We Make Changes When Asked?
Fabrication is an industry that is built on quality, speed, and customization. Without one of these three elements, a project (and your reputation) falls apart. If a customer needs to make a change, you need to be able to make the modifications for them quickly—without sacrificing product quality.
Knowing this, change is frequent in the fabrication industry, and all too often, a change order from a customer sends your people into scramble mode to fix it. A flurry of emails and calls to stop production and make a change before you waste any more material.
Production changes shouldn’t be this hard, and for fabricators, one of the biggest opportunities to save time and money is to make change easier with powerful project management functionality in the cloud. Modern solutions allow you to simplify the change order creation process with full documentation including the revenue budget, cost budget, commitments, and class.
How Challenging Is It to Collaborate with Customers, Suppliers, Subcontractors and Internal Resources?
For companies in the fabrication industry, success is built on collaboration. Collaboration with suppliers, collaboration with customers, collaboration within your organization, and often collaboration with subcontractors or other parties.
Naturally, this presents challenges for your fabrication business, whose goal is to orchestrate the entire flow of information, materials, and labor to produce a product. For example, if you are a job shop and a customer calls to ask for something today, how quickly can you answer them?
Data needs to flow seamlessly between applications. Your sales rep needs to know whether he or she can promise that your facility can fabricate the piece. Do you have the materials? Is the machinery already scheduled? Modern ERP is designed to integrate, allowing the right people to have the right information at the right time.
Information is routed throughout the ERP solution, allowing you to design, generate a quote, schedule machinery and attach necessary CAD files, fabricate the product, ship it, and bill a customer in less time than ever. With a centralized database, everyone stays on the same page, improving collaboration and speed.
Do We Need to Cut Costs?
Your customers trust you because you are local or because you fill a niche. Sadly, however, even if you are the best of the best, providing American made products quickly and accurately, offshore price cutting presents a constant threat.
While your customers may tolerate a small premium to work with an American fabricator, if the quality or timeliness of your work suffers or prices rise too much, they could just as easily take a risk to work with an offshore vendor who promises them low prices. Naturally, this presents a challenge: cut skilled labor and risk declines in quality or find other opportunities for savings.
While cost cutting shouldn’t be your number one reason to choose the cloud, the choice to use a modern cloud-based solution offers a wide range of benefits:
- Automation can reduce the strain on your financial staff and minimize the time it takes to complete a variety of tasks.
- Easy integration reduces the amount you spend on hiring a consultant or IT person to hand code connections between applications.
- Increased visibility into your entire stack of applications helps you identify areas where you can improve and business intelligence presents this information in a way anyone can understand.
- Cloud-based solutions reduce the need for additional IT staff to manage your server room, decrease the cost to manage and maintain hardware, and make updates easier and less risky.
Paired with the increased ability to collaborate with your customers, suppliers, and internal staff, and you can deliver the same speed and quality service to your customers at lower costs.
Cost Optimization, Collaboration, and Change Management: The Power of the Cloud
At Crestwood, we understand the challenges that fabrication businesses face, and for decades have helped companies like yours to work with solutions that save you time, increase visibility, and allow your business to thrive.
Paired with their functionality for Manufacturing and Project Management, the recent release of Construction Edition allowed Acumatica Cloud ERP to deliver the necessary functionality for the fabrication industry, adding necessary functionality like subcontracts, retainage, prevailing wages and more.
As a top Acumatica Partner, we have the in-house resources that can make Acumatica work for you. Crestwood was awarded a position in the first-year Acumatica President’s Club for 2018 and voted Acumatica Partner of the Year for two years in a row. Get to know more about Acumatica for Fabrication Businesses and contact us for more information.