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Tips for Success with Manufacturing Software

As competitive pressure continues to intensify, manufacturing firms today are spending a tremendous amount of money on manufacturing software to significantly increase efficiency, quality, and profitability. In fact, according to leading industry analyst firm AMR Research, the market for manufacturing software applications grew almost 18 percent in 2007, reaching over $9 billion.

Yet, without thorough planning and a solid strategy in place, some of those manufacturing software implementations are likely to fail. How can your firm ensure success with its manufacturing software system?

Collaborate Internally and Externally with Manufacturing Software

Manufacturing software systems impact everyone involved in supply chain operations. So when setting your requirements, evaluating and testing available solutions, and selecting your manufacturing software software vendor, be sure to gather input from all vital stakeholders. Include not only your employees in the process, but your suppliers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, and other business partners as well.

Cover the Entire Supply Chain

Manufacturing ERP systems are about more than just shop-floor production and related activities. Be sure the application you choose streamlines and enhances the entire supply chain from end-to-end. Your manufacturing software vendor should have the mechanisms in place to support all associated operations, including sourcing and procurement, inventory management, distribution, financial planning and control, and sales.

It’s all About Demand Planning

Accurate and effective forecasting is crucial to the profitability of any manufacturing firm. In order to successfully improve all production and supply chain operations and boost the bottom line, the manufacturing software system you choose must provide advanced functionality that leverages cutting-edge statistical and predictive models for forecasting and planning from both a supply and demand perspective.

Customize, Customize, Customize

No two manufacturing firms are alike. Production processes, supply chain structures, vendor arrangements, and other activities will vary greatly from one company to the next. Therefore, “out of the box” manufacturing software deployments are likely to deliver less-than-expected results. It is crucial to custom-tailor your manufacturing software application to support your unique processes and activities.

Go Beyond Core Manufacturing Operations

Most manufacturing software vendors offer applications to support not only production, inventory management, and related procedures, but other key areas of the business as well. Integrating manufacturing software applications with other systems throughout the organization, such as accounting, customer relationship management, and human resources, will ensure optimum productivity and cost-efficiency across the enterprise.

Set KPIs – and Measure Them

Most manufacturing software systems come complete with a variety of state-of-the-art reporting and analysis tools. Leveraging those tools to implement a broad performance management strategy is the key to success. Determine what it is you are trying to achieve with your manufacturing software implementation. Do you want to minimize cost of goods sold? Perhaps speeding up production time is your primary objective? Are you looking to reduce defects and re-work?

Once you’ve identified the primary business drivers, build a set of metrics around them – and measure them continuously. This will allow you to identify any potential problems and take corrective action before your plan gets too far off course.