Last week, we talked about the new crop of challenges that have arisen in manufacturing management and strategies to address them. (Navigate the Challenges in Manufacturing.) We saw that marketplace changes have required that your business model change to remain competitive. Now let’s look at how your enterprise software should support you in this industry transformation.
Technology and market conditions are changing faster than ever.
The transition from an industrial marketplace to an information-intensive one has brought dramatic changes. Decisions have become more complex with the growth in technology, increased regulations regarding safety and sustainability, the blurring of industry boundaries, and the globalization of businesses.
In order to remain competitive in this changing marketplace, many manufacturers have reacted with flatter organizations that are more decentralized, enabling them to be more flexible and agile. Functions within businesses have been blurred with more collaboration and decentralization on processes and decisions.
Your enterprise software should help you manage change.
Your enterprise software should help you manage change rather than impede change. A big part of that response is whether your business management software can easily adapt to change and even help you adjust easily. Technology should provide you with the flexibility and adaptability you need to respond to rapid change in global trade and competition. An ERP allows you to do business without geographic or functional constraints while being more efficient and reducing costs.
Grade your enterprise software on these 6 key qualities that support change:
Does your ERP or business software have what it takes to help you through industry transformation? Here’s a checklist of key ERP requirements.
- Flexible implementation
Manufacturers need to be far more flexible in responding to changing environments. Fast response to customer needs and changing market demand are all essential to effective operations and business success. Autonomous production and operations units might be scattered geographically, but working within one common system.
Your ERP needs to support changes in strategies, regulations, and market dynamics. A flexible ERP is one that can be easily configured with modules and provide regular updates. It should offer multiple deployment options, including mobility. Implementing new capabilities needs to be rapid in order to meet the fast-paced changes in the marketplace.
- Efficient and automated processes
Businesses need to streamline operations for growth. Configured correctly, an ERP can lower administrative, operating, and inventory costs. Your ERP needs to accommodate new technology geared toward process efficiency. It needs to support end-to-end business processes, from order to billing. An ERP will help you maintain control, even as you distribute processes and decision-making, and eliminate overhead.
- Real-time analysis of information
Businesses need real-time access to information that enables decision-making. An ERP should allow you to respond quickly to unexpected situations whether those are internal or external. With an ERP, you can process data in a timelier manner to control operations, make decisions, and communicate. With data in the right hands, the business can be flatter and more agile.
The problem that arises in an information-rich marketplace is that managers are bombarded with data continually. Instead of being burdened with too much of the wrong kind of information, they need data that is specific to the tasks they perform and the decisions they make. With a business intelligence system integrated with your ERP, senior managers can easily access a wealth of data and make more informed decisions without the need for someone else to compile and analyze it.
- Collaborative processes
Manufacturers need to implement collaborative processes across departments, suppliers, and customers. In order to effectively and rapidly react to change, functional silos need to be eliminated. Success and failure in one function affects activities in other functions. Your ERP should enable cross-functional collaboration using common data and processes. To facilitate communication, your ERP should be easy to use and accessible anywhere, anytime.
- Coordinated global operations
Even small businesses need to support global operations whether it is international sales or outsourced productions. Your ERP should enhance communication, promote collaboration, distribute information, and facilitate e-commerce supporting multiple geographies, languages, and currencies. With the right technology, you can reduce the costs and complexity of doing business globally.
- Strong customer relationship management
Manufacturers need to become customer-centric. Your business isn’t the only one changing rapidly; your customers’ businesses are changing, as well. You can’t assume that what works today will work tomorrow. Instead, you need to put a system in place to be responsive to the changes in customer needs. Your ERP should provide tools such as customer relationship management (CRM) to help you manage your customer interactions.
In addition to technology, you need the right vendor to support change.
Not only do you need the right technology, but you need the right vendor to support change. Your vendor should offer products and services that will help you continuously innovate and improve in order to compete in a rapidly changing marketplace.
We believe that we are that type of vendor. IWI provides software, such as Sage EM (formerly known as Sage X3), and tools including business intelligence, CRM, warehouse management, and human resource management that will help you continue to be successful. Contact us today if you’d like to implement an enterprise system that will help you manage change.
To learn more about change in manufacturing and how an ERP can help, download our whitepaper, ERP: A Strategic Growth Driver for Manufacturing Firms.