Cloud-based ERP solutions can revolutionise the way manufacturing companies work. From automating processes to eliminating duplication of data entry, massive time savings and increases in efficiency can be realised by implementing a cloud-based ERP solution.
The manufacturing industry is one that has consistently been plagued by inefficiency, often caused by companies scaling up and outgrowing the software systems they started out with. Legacy systems don’t communicate with each other, which results in companies having to fill in the gaps by relying on Excel. It also becomes difficult to generate reports that provide real business insight with data in numerous silos and no one version of the truth. This means that staff have to duplicate their data entry between different systems, which is time consuming and inefficient, while also being prone to human error – a 1 in place of a 7 or a misplaced decimal point and the whole report is generated based on inaccurate data.
Many manufacturing businesses can cope with this up to a certain point, until the pain of change becomes less than the pain of sticking with what they already have. But what does a manufacturing company need to consider when the time comes to look at modernising and future-proofing their ERP solution:
- Where are we now and how is the business currently struggling with inefficiency?
This requires managers to take a pragmatic and introspective view on how the business is currently running, what is causing blockages and ultimately creating inefficiencies that can be resolved by putting the right solution in place. Understanding the current causes of inefficiency is an excellent start to guide the selection process of the new solution as it will inform you of what features and functionality you will need to increase efficiency.
- What are our goals for the future?
As a large business expense, most companies don’t replace their ERP solutions that often. Therefore, it is important to align the functionality requirements with the business goals and objectives and choose a solution that can help the business scale. For example, if your business has big ambitions for international growth, you should thoroughly research how various options can help your company scale internationally – multi-currency and multi-localisations will be essential to support this. Buy the solution for where you want to be, not where you are now – this will help to avoid having to go through the ERP selection process again, with the additional expenses that will entail, sooner than you want to. If you take shortcuts now, you will end up buying twice.
- Make a list of essentials and ‘nice to haves’
The ERP space is crowded with many different solutions, which come with different price points and varying functionality. Although most will offer key functionality, such as finances and sales/purchasing, it’s unlikely that every solution available in the market will be a good fit for your needs. Considering what your essential requirements are will help to guide your selection process, and then you can look at the additional ‘nice to have’ features that will set one solution apart from the others.
- Who is involved in the selection process?
It is important to involve key people from all business departments who will use the ERP system to gain an understanding of what their specific needs are. This will give the most balanced view of the essential features required within the chosen solution as each department manager will have differing priorities. Open communication between departments is fundamental to this, and it’s helpful to have a thorough understanding of each departments’ key requirements before you start researching the market and arranging software demos. This will mean that you get the most out of the demos you have, and equally vendors will be able to understand the kind of functionality your business requires and how their solution can help, putting both parties in an excellent position for a productive and collaborative working relationship.
- How will the company pay for its new ERP solution?
Back in days of old, most large business purchases, such as new machinery or software solutions, were capital expenses that had to be planned and budgeted for. As ERP solution vendors, we found that this was a key reason for ERP projects being delayed - often taking two to three years if the company was unable to find the budget for the expensive purchase. Cloud-based solutions on a subscription licensing model nowadays offer much more flexibility for businesses. Large software vendors also offer the ability to rent the licences, rather than purchasing them on a perpetual basis, which avoids the substantial initial outlay and can be more appealing to many businesses. There are also numerous financing options available, as well as grants, which can help businesses fund their purchase without putting too much strain on their cashflow.
- Finding the right partner
The success of many ERP projects is based on finding the right partner to work with. There can be multiple partners selling the same products, so how do you choose the right one for your business? Often you will find that partners have specific experience in certain industries, such as manufacturing or wholesale distribution at a higher level, but you may also find that they have specialised in certain niches within those industries, such as food manufacturing, chemicals or packaging. They may have developed specific add-ons that can further enhance functionality in these areas, and your specific requirements will guide the selection process.
Ultimately though, your working relationship with your chosen partner is the most important thing – it needs to a collaborative effort with each side having clearly defined roles and responsibilities, working together to achieve a successful outcome. Understanding how the project will be managed with defined timescales throughout the implementation process is also important, as is having confidence in the partner’s teams’ understanding of your requirements and their ability to deliver a solution that fits your needs.
How Ascarii can help
Ascarii’s team has extensive experience working across many different types of manufacturing business to roll out cloud-based SAP Business One. Our collaborative approach means that we take the time to understand your business and the particular challenges you face, as well as where you could use technology to increase efficiency, before recommending solutions to help you achieve your goals and objectives. SAP Business One Cloud is an ideal solution for the manufacturing industry, and with numerous add-ons available from different partners that have all been written within the same software development kit, it provides a highly adaptable, scalable, and future-proofed ERP solution that will grow with your business to automate processes, increase efficiency, and reduce costs. To find out more about how SAP Business One can help your business scale and achieve its goals, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team.