5 telltale signs it’s time to replace your ERP systemNhung Mai
New software, systems enhance responsiveness, save time for stampers and other manufacturers
Most stamping manufacturers have integrated an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system of some sort over the last decade. Most likely it ushered in operating system improvements and efficiencies not experienced before. However, modern technology improvements—especially Industry 4.0—may have made those legacy ERP systems obsolete.
Now it’s easier than ever for manufacturers to update their systems using the features of Industry 4.0 so they don’t have to rely on outdated ones. Today’s ERP software harnesses data so that manufacturers can make better decisions, faster.
Here are five signs that your ERP system is outdated.
1. Lack of Real-time Data
Speed to market and critical decision-making during the production process are competitive advantages. That means every minute counts. Time is money, and digging through data is tedious and time-consuming.
That critical time is wasted when staff on the production floor and in the front office have to wait for reports to be generated to make their next moves. Modern manufacturing ERP software offers individual users access to the reports they need at the click of a mouse from their own dashboards.
Cloud access and mobility features are also important for those in the field, whether for the sales team, remote employees, or technicians serving a client. Having up-to-date business intelligence about inventory levels, sales orders, and where things are in the production cycle is critical.
Your ERP system should allow access at the touch of a button and on any mobile device to these and other types of information to help you make better decisions, capture more sales, and satisfy customers.
2. Too Complex for Users
Is everyone across your organization comfortable using your ERP software? Do they use it at all? Or are you finding more and more employees using workarounds to accomplish tasks that your ERP system should be capable of handling?
You also may find yourself hiring software programmers to write new capabilities into your ERP software. Inevitably, such efforts will likely make it, even more, complex—depressing user adoption instead of enhancing it.
Lack of employee buy-in and chronic complaints about how challenging a system is and how much time it takes to enter and extract data are telltale signs of an ineffective ERP system.
ERP software today is equipped with intuitive interfaces, making them easy to catch on to and use. For example, role-based configured dashboards turn data into usable information without tapping into IT capacity. Automated work instructions address workforce succession. Merging machine data and financial performance can pinpoint where true profitability is or is not occurring. ERP software includes customizable reporting tools. Its anywhere-accessibility supports quick responsiveness, and that equates to time savings and better customer service.
In addition, reputable ERP system providers will include training as part of their ERP implementation and provide support to encourage user adoption. Be sure to take advantage of it.
3. Reliance on Multiple Platforms
One of the biggest benefits of current ERP software is its ability to minimize duplicate data and duplicate work. A major goal of any ERP system is to create efficiencies and make sure everyone is on the same page and working together as a team toward the same goals. When individuals and departments use multiple systems or add-on tools that are not integrated into your ERP system, that is a recipe for miscommunication.
If you are using nonintegrated systems or a separate customer relationship management (CRM) tool, you’re likely missing productivity and profitability opportunities.
Modern ERP systems unite various departments with a single technology system rather than separating them into silos with their different management tools. But that doesn’t mean you need to abandon systems that are working for you. If you like, for example, the simplicity of QuickBooks®, newer ERP technologies can integrate seamlessly with many existing platforms and do not have to be complex and difficult. Workflow automation in these new systems has pushed complex routines behind the scenes, allowing users to analyze data; make decisions fast; and avoid lengthy, frustrating keystrokes.
4. Still Performing Manual Processes
In an age when reliance on computers and online connectivity has become a part of our daily lives and imperative for business success, it’s unnecessary for manufacturers to still rely on manual business processes.
Your finance department may run manual end-of-the-month reconciliation reports. The sales department may send orders through interoffice mail. Engineers might route papers for approvals with no way of tracking where they are in the approval process or whose desk they’re sitting on.
ERP technology is intended to automate labor-intensive processes and keep workflows running smoothly. When your ERP fails to achieve these most basic functions, it’s time to look at an upgraded system.
5. Lack of Support
As legacy systems age, they often require more calls to the software vendor’s customer support center or help desk. To resolve problems, technicians often need to perform upgrades or maintenance.
Eventually, however, the computing power of legacy systems simply cannot keep up with the mountain of data that is generated in today’s business climate.
This can lead to slower performance, increased downtime, and susceptibility to security breaches or cyberattacks. Some ERP software applications may even become obsolete or no longer be supported.
A lack of available support isn’t a problem just with legacy ERP systems; it’s also critical to ensure that your new ERP system has people who will be there to stand behind it. Choosing the right ERP vendor is just as important as choosing the right software. The vendor can help you through each phase, including discovery, selection, implementation, customization, user training, and ongoing support.