Many manufacturing ERP software systems are as embedded within organizations as the production equipment that powers them. Just like machinery that doesn’t evolve with the times, an ERP system can become outdated and painfully inefficient. And just as outdated equipment can slow down your whole production line, an outdated ERP system can keep your entire business from performing at an optimal level.
Maybe your enterprise is experiencing limitations when it comes to your ERP system’s flexibility, scalability or integration options. Or maybe you’re dissatisfied with your current ERP system’s high maintenance costs. Either way, you may be exploring other ERP options to implement.
Here are the most important factors to consider as you search for the best manufacturing ERP software for your business.
Comparing Manufacturing ERP Software Systems
When choosing between ERP systems, there are certain factors that every enterprise, no matter their industry, should take into account, such as cost and whether the software is built for an organization of their size. Other considerations include:
- Ease of Use: Is the ERP system readily navigable, with easy-to-find menus and toolbars and an uncluttered user interface? Does it have the functionality you need without bogging you down with features that aren’t relevant for your business?
- Scalability: Be sure your ERP system is equipped to accommodate growth. Even if you’re following best practices and choosing an ERP system based on the next 5-10 years rather than on some remote future, surprises happen – just ask any company that manufactured toilet paper in 2020.
- Integration Capabilities: When choosing manufacturing ERP software, make sure it integrates with any software you plan to keep using (an experienced ERP consultant may be able to help). Integrations can also help you gain the industry-specific capabilities your manufacturing company needs. And when your business needs change, integrations help you navigate the evolutions.
When searching for the best manufacturing ERP software for your enterprise, it’s important to walk through your process, from product inception to the moment it reaches the end user, to determine which tasks best lend themselves to the efficiencies and streamlining an ERP system brings.
Here are some functionalities that may be beneficial to manufacturers:
As a manufacturer, creating inventory is the backbone of your business, so robust inventory management capabilities are a must. The best manufacturing ERP software will provide real-time inventory visibility, so as to avoid any situation in which you’re promising a customer items that aren’t actually on hand. This visibility also enables company leadership to periodically make production decisions based on which items have and haven’t sold well.
Rather than making a production decision based on the fact that your toy manufacturing company still has a quarter of a warehouse full of Suzy-Snacks-a-Lot dolls at the end of the fiscal year, why not prevent that from happening in the first place with demand forecasting? The best manufacturing ERP software provides transparency across the enterprise, pulling data from disparate applications and leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to aid in the planning and pricing of products.
Whether your business sells its product to distributors, retailers or directly to consumers – or all of the above – you need to have some way of getting that product out of your warehouse and to its destination. There are many applications available that can streamline or even completely automate certain aspects of the fulfillment process. xCarrier, an Acumatica integration, is one example. It can print labels and shipping documents, update transportation costs in Acumatica, and track shipments.
Automating repetitive workflows can reduce errors, boost employee morale, and drive your business forward by allowing those same employees to focus on tasks in-line with their abilities – and manufacturing is an industry with plenty of repetitive processes. A Forbes Advisor post sums up the need for an ERP system adept at automating workflows: “Too much time dealing with inefficient or unorganized warehouse processes means you have to pay employees for your chaos, instead of their talents.” This sentiment applies not just in the warehouse, but to all aspects of your business.
The Best ERP Software for Manufacturing
There are a few manufacturing ERP systems on the market today that possess all the attributes needed for your business to thrive.
Acumatica Manufacturing Edition
One of the biggest benefits of Acumatica Manufacturing Edition is it’s a true cloud software, meaning its full menu of features – and there are plenty of manufacturing-specific features such as material requirements planning (MRP) tools, a Bill of Material (BOM)/Routing module, and advanced planning and scheduling software – can be accessed from any device, anywhere. Managers can forecast demand while supervising the factory floor. Your shipping department can update inventory numbers as they’re loading items onto trucks. Sales team members can access client information in the middle of lunch with that client.
Integrations, Integrations Everywhere
Acumatica comes with 80 native integrations and a marketplace boasting 300 interoperable applications that handle anything from accounts payable automation to sales projection-based manufacturing resource planning. In addition, its open APIs mean it’s easy to add third-party or even custom integrations.
Firewire Surfboards was able, with the help of Crestwood Associates, to integrate Acumatica with Brandscope, the eco-friendly surfboard designer’s custom production database, as well as its verifier tag software, which tracks boards through manufacturing.
B2B window covering manufacturer Erickson International has similarly benefited from Acumatica’s wide-ranging integration capabilities. The company, based in Las Vegas but with several global distribution centers, leveraged Acumatica’s flexibility to tie financials for all seven of its entities together. Now they enjoy data transparency into every part of the business, allowing company leadership to optimize inventory, improve production, enhance operations and monitor KPIs with greater ease. Cloud-native Acumatica, with its unique pricing structure that charges based on resources used rather than number of users, has also freed Erickson from the ever-increasing costs associated with their previous on-premises system.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central offers robust capabilities specifically useful to the manufacturing industry, including inventory management tools that also keep track of the materials and sub-items that comprise your final product, scheduling, material requirements planning, demand and capacity planning, and more. Like Acumatica, it allows access from any device. Also like Acumatica, it provides plenty of opportunities for customization through low-code Power App building options and interoperability with other Microsoft offerings such as Microsoft Teams.
These, along with its affordable price point, are some of the reasons Forbes Advisor chose Business Central as one of its best manufacturing ERPs and its best overall ERP system of 2023.
The Right Partner Is Important to Your ERP Success
An experienced ERP consulting team can help you assess your enterprise’s unique needs, select the best manufacturing ERP software for your business, and customize it so it operates as if created for your business and your business alone.
An ERP consultant can also be integral when it comes to:
- Implementation and training
- Data migration
- Support throughout the life of the system, including additional customizations and integrations as your needs evolve
- Cloud hosting you can trust
Crestwood Associates possesses all of the attributes of the right ERP partner, boasting an in-house development team and an in-house dedicated support team. Our experts have assisted in more than 5,000 successful ERP implementations across industries (no small feat), and we have the credentials to prove it: we’re Gold Partners of both Acumatica and Microsoft.
Request a consultation to learn what Crestwood Associates can offer your manufacturing business.