Future-proofing your business: the role played by manufacturing ERP software

Increase in ‘engineering-to-order’ will shake up manufacturing industryYesterday’s superstars can easily become tomorrow’s has-beens. And that’s true in business, as well as in sport and popular culture—which is why it’s vital for businesses to take prudent steps towards becoming future-proof. Top of the list: considering the role played by a business’s choice of its manufacturing ERP software.

Surprised? Perhaps you shouldn’t be. Yes, it’s also important for a business to have a healthy stream of new products coming to market. Yes, cost-competitiveness and productivity play a part. And of course, sales and marketing are also important.

At KCS Datawright we believe that without effective manufacturing ERP software, all the effort put into these can be wasted. The world does not stand still. And neither does the way in which business is conducted.

Yes, you probably receive customer orders by post, and by fax—although we’re willing to bet that volumes are down. But the simple fact of the matter is that a huge volume of business is simply migrating on-line. EDI, web services, XML messaging, e-mail, web-based catalogues, server-to-server ordering—that’s how business is being conducted these days. Moreover, there’s the mobile dimension to consider. Customers want—and expect—your salesforce to have full access to your business’s manufacturing ERP software, wherever they are.

And not just for ordering purposes, of course. Works order progress updates, inventory holdings, real-time delivery updates: today’s manufacturing business needs to be connected in all sorts of ways that simply didn’t arise for the manufacturing businesses of yesteryear. Plus, of course, online electronic communications with suppliers and business partners. And critical for delivering that connectivity: manufacturing ERP software. Manufacturing ERP software, moreover, that is nimble, agile and constantly evolving—and not manufacturing ERP software that acts as a barrier to change.

At KCS Datawright we understand that how a business connects with customers and suppliers, though, is only part of the picture. To effectively future-proof your business, you also need a manufacturing ERP software solution with an evolving set of broader business capabilities. Performance management capabilities, for instance. Capacity planning capabilities. Inventory management capabilities. And track-and-trace capabilities.
Plus, of course, the ability to flexibly integrate with ‘best of breed’ solutions in respect of niche non-standard requirements that may prove necessary for particular businesses.

And when whole new paradigms come along—such as servitization, for instance, or taking advantage of the ‘Internet of Things’—then these too must be reflected within the business’s manufacturing ERP software.

In short, the world doesn’t stand still. And neither should your chosen manufacturing ERP software. So how best to achieve all this? If manufacturing ERP software plays such a fundamental role in future-proofing the business, how best to identify the perfect manufacturing ERP software provider, and ensure that their solution will evolve as your business evolves?

At KCS Datawright, our view is that the relationship between a business and its manufacturing ERP software provider is critical.

In short, you have to be absolutely certain that you’re working with the right partner—a partner willing to invest in its manufacturing ERP software solution, and keep it aligned with your evolving needs. To some manufacturing ERP software providers, that means taking a prescriptive route to technology ‘road maps’, and investing in hi-tech laboratories and the like in order to formulate and explore alternative technology scenarios.
But here at KCS Datawright, we prefer a different approach.

We’re keen on regular account management meetings with customers, for instance, to keep close to their evolving needs. We hold director-to-director reviews, to make sure that our customers’ strategic imperatives are understood. And we invest in holding user groups, and customer forums.

It’s very ‘hands on’, to be sure. And perhaps not to everyone’s taste: some businesses, we recognize, simply prefer to be told what their future holds. But that’s not our way of working—and in our view, certainly not the best way to future-proof your business, either.

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