You’ve been appointed to the software selection committee for your job shop –or you’re a committee of one – and you want to know where to start. Buying an ERP platform for your small- to mid-size job shop is a monumental step. Maybe you’re replacing an existing implementation, or starting anew. Either way, be sure not to ignore these three important steps when sizing up job shop software or manufacturing software vendors.
1. Make sure job shop software is easy to use.
Your first step to finding a job shop software solution that fits your needs is to make sure it’s easy to use. Many software vendors claim theirs to be, but the real test is to see their product in action. If there’s not an intuitive logic to how the screens are laid out, or if there’s general confusion for you in how to navigate the software, how do you think the guys out on the shop floor are going to take to it? If a demo is complicated or clumsy, just imagine how challenging the training will be. The last thing any lean job shop needs is to slow down or shut down production for extensive training on a system that’s supposed to increase productivity. Look for easy navigation, consistent screen layout/design, summary and details where required, and an overall good fit with your business.
2. Test job shop software support and service.
Secondly, make sure your software vendor is not simply paying lip service to support and service. Understand that while there are certainly constants and similarities from one job shop to another, yours is likely going to need to be tailored for your operation. A good manufacturing software implementation offers not only a variety of training and support, but is there to customize your implementation and be there to consult with you should you encounter any problems.
Be wary of the one-size-fits-all answer, because no two shops are alike, and when it comes to service, your shop should take precedent. Is there a dedicated account or service manager for your job shop. Take your prospective vendor’s call center for a test drive to see how responsive it is. Make sure phone and web-based support are thorough and professional.
3. Check what their customers are saying.
Because seeing is believing, check steps one and two above (ease of use and service) by asking your manufacturing software vendor for a comprehensive list of current customers. Not just the two or three featured on their website, but drill down and ask for other job shops with similar specs as yours in terms of kind of shop, size of shop, revenue, employees, geographic location. Here’s where you can’t be shy. Ask for names of the managers at these companies who are using the software day-in, day-out to run their job shops.
If the current software system for your job shop isn’t easy to use, fully supported or working as promised, it’s probably hurting your employee productivity, profits and costing you untolled damage with your customers. Being saddled with an under-performing manufacturing software system can hurt employee relations too. The last thing you need is a disconnect between the shop floor and the office. Shops of all kinds and sizes need to do their due diligence when it comes to selecting manufacturing software for their business.
Take these simple initial steps when evaluating your job shop software.