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How Leading Manufacturing Organizations Select ERP to Support Their Growth Strategies

According to Aberdeen's Business Management and ERP Study, the number one challenge facing today's manufacturers is "managing growth expectations":

As organizations grow, they are faced with more complex operations and decisions, are exposed to more competitors, and incur increased costs that must be minimized. In cases such as these, manufacturers should rely on their technology environment and access to accurate data in order to do much of the heavy lifting.

Relying on technology means employing enterprise resource planning (ERP), and according to the report, 97 percent of manufacturers are using ERP solutions to manage their business. “But not all ERP is created equal,” says the study:
Top performers must select a solution that can combat manufacturing pressures and emulates a modern technology environment. This means selecting functional, collaborative solutions that support real-time decision-making, agility, and collaboration through capabilities such as mobility and analytics. Indeed, top-performing manufacturers select user-friendly, but powerful, solutions that enable users to easily access the information they need, and convert that information to actions and smart decisions that enable growth.

Growth means challenges: keeping costs in check, maintaining high levels of efficiency and customer service, and presenting an organized front to the market. Moreover, as the size of the business increases, so does the challenge of reacting quickly to business change. All this is compounded when manufacturers don't have easy access to timely and relevant information.
Aberdeen finds that the top two selection criteria for ERP are functionality and ease of use:

  • A functional solution ensures that the manufacturer can continue to operate while maintaining process standards, support growth by ensuring that operations don't spiral out of control, and ensure that all data is collected and provided as the organization needs.
  • An ERP solution that is easy to use ensures that employees (and the organization) get full value out of the solution.

Leading organizations were found to be 38 percent more likely than followers to enable users to access ERP reports in a self-service capacity. Further, they were 59 percent more likely to have real-time collaboration across departments and divisions. They are more likely to be able to drill down on reports, access fully integrated views of customer information, and effectively plan and forecast demand.

Extending Decision Support

As ERP that supports growth relies on easy access to information to enable intelligent decision-making, top performers are benefitting from emerging technologies that extend this capability-in particular, mobility: 

Leaders are 71 percent more likely to enable mobile access to ERP. And it's not just about throwing the entire ERP suite on a mobile device. Rather, top performers look to ERP solutions that are built to easily support the needs of the growing manufacturer. Truly, leaders are 2.9 times as likely to have mobile ERP apps specifically built for roles and/or processes.

The key benefit: enhanced visibility across the enterprise through the availability of data combined to do work anywhere, anytime.

Added to this benefit are analytics to better enable growth decisions and the agility to respond to change. Aberdeen reports that leaders are 73 percent more likely to have business analytics embedded in ERP, supporting better planning to help grow the business. On other aspects:

It is important that top performers have a solution with the ability to scale with a manufacturer to ensure that the solution continues to support a changing business. In fact, Leaders are over twice as likely to have an ERP solution that can easily be modified to support business change. Whether this means new locations, new products, new business units, or new processes, 75 percent of leaders dedicate resources to ensure that ERP continuously supports the business. This is an essential capability for supporting growth.

The benefits realized through such an approach include improvement in inventory turns, time-to-decision, complete and on-time delivery, and profit margins.

The analyst concludes its report with a quartet of recommendations for manufacturers regarding ERP:

  • Define ERP selection needs.
  • Consider mobile and analytics to maximize ERP ROI.
  • Commit to ERP training.
  • Enable easy data access to make smarter decisions.

To see how Kinetic (new name for Epicor ERP) supports business growth for manufacturers, you can go here.


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