What Do Manufacturers Need From an ERP Solution?

After struggling with an outdated enterprise resource planning solution for more than a year, you've come to the conclusion that it's simply not worth the wasted effort anymore. So, you tell your internal development team that it's time for an upgrade.

However, no ERP is the same. Such a system designed for retailers is inherently different than one tailored to the needs of a manufacturer. Assuming you're the CIO of a multimillion-dollar production company, you need to select an ERP solution can be customized to support end-user responsibilities and work well with existing assets (database engines, networks, etc.).

What is ERP? 
Before diving into system integration or assessing what features a manufacturing-focused ERP solution should possess, it's important to identify what the technology is. According to TechTarget, ERP software is designed to collect and structure information from various internal and external sources, providing professionals with insight into how operations are either driving or hindering profitability. Specifically, ERP systems are developed to help management carry out a number of tasks, such as:

How can ERP best accommodate manufacturers?
From what can be gathered from the aforementioned description, it's clear how manufacturers could use ERP solutions to their benefit. To provide a more succinct example as to how ERP can not only support but enhance a production company's operations, let's step back and take a gander at sustainability

Sustainability refers to the concept of conducting business with regard to environmental and social concerns. For instance, General Mills, Kellogg and Safeway are three enterprises that are committed to sourcing 100 percent of their palm oil from suppliers that trade in deforestation-free palm oil, according to Sustainable Brands.

What does this have to do with ERP? Look at it from an end-user's perspective, specifically procurement officers, who are responsible for scrutinizing supplier practices. These professionals determine whether to offer a supplier a request for proposal depending on the information they collect.

Imagine if a procurement officer working for General Mills could visit a palm oil farm and write a sustainability assessment in the ERP application the company provides to its employees. Assuming the ERP system is cloud-based, his or her report on the plantation would be automatically shared with quality control professionals, the finance department and other concerned parties.

How should it be engineered 
Procurement is just one out of 100 considerations a manufacturer has with regard to resource planning. Synchronization with factory surveillance systems, intelligent order monitoring functions and a plethora of other advanced features are likely to be included in a production company's list of requirements.

So, what language should be used to construct the ERP system? Choosing between C and C# is just one step of the equation. Given the way in which the manufacturing economy evolves, above all other considerations, it's important to build a solution that can receive multiple revisions over an extended period of time - it's a critical component of application lifecycle management.