Choosing the right ERP software should maximize the efficiency and productivity of every functional area of your business. In a crowded ERP solution marketplace with confusing messages, it takes a methodical approach to match the right solution to your business. This involves clearly defining your purpose, assessing your business requirements, and having qualitative and quantitative objectives. It requires an understanding of the baseline technologies you will need to make your investment worthwhile, the common functional components every ERP should include, and the specialty functions and integrations your job shop needs to consider. 

To clear the deck of solutions that you should not consider, we begin with the functional requirements for every manufacturer. Any vendor who can’t provide the below should be scratched off your list. 

ERP software basic #1: Single point of data truth 

manufacturer using ERP software

Modern systems are integrated, seamless solutions that enable all functional areas of your business to work from the same continually updated data. Your ERP solution must do this to be a centralized business management platform. 

ERP software basic #2: Centralized and integrated 

The best ERP software offers seamlessly integrated modules that enable users to manage grouped tasks and provide all the information needed for each operation in the same part of the system. This integration of modules allows users to easily work between parts of the system without jumping from one software application to another. 

ERP software basic #3: Cloud-based

Cloud-based ERP architecture provides several critical benefits for manufacturers. Economies of scale provide enterprise-grade compliance, security, data backup, and support scaled to the budgets of job shops. It also allows access to the system anytime, anywhere, and can work in the office, at home, or on the road. This remote infrastructure reduces IT costs and overall operational expenses for greater cash flow. 

ERP software basic #4: Industry-specific 

Financial (accounting) companies with no understanding of or experience in manufacturing developed most of the ERPs you’ll find out there. The developers can build a system that runs properly but not necessarily do what’s needed, since they can’t differentiate between what’s important and what’s not in your shop. When your technology provider is specific to your industry, it should have a relationship with important industry vendors that can help you better streamline your processes and increase productivity. 

ERP software basic #5: Scalable and future-proof 

Your ERP must be flexible enough to meet your unique business needs and adapt to the changing competitive landscape. Ensure your software provider will still meet your needs as you increase sales, offer additional product lines, or open new locations. Your software needs to scale with your business so that you can be confident that the investment will still pay dividends well into the future. Choose a system that will ensure long-term ROI, keep your business current and agile and costs down, improve efficiency, increase visibility, drive profitable growth, and incorporate new technologies as they become available. 

ERP software basic #6: Innovative 

Look for a vendor at the forefront of technology dedicated to making advancements to improve the way you use your software. Ask for a roadmap, inquire how often the software is updated, and what improvements they made over the past year. 

Want more? Find out how to choose the right ERP software for your shop.