What new and old roles will enterprise resource planning systems play within engineer-to-order manufacturing?
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions will continue to be central to how each ETO manufacturer plans its operations, estimates jobs, sets targets and undertakes its purchases. And while ERP solutions are gradually evolving to run on top of more configurable and highly integrated architectures, they will still be at the heart of everyday manufacturing activities.
The overall change can be understood as one of form rather than function: The designs, integrations and capabilities of ERP platforms are rapidly evolving and expanding, but the tasks they are built to fulfill are mostly the same as before. An ERP remains the best way to handle everything from inventory management to financial planning once tools such as Excel is no longer sufficient.
With this general trend in mind, let’s dig into a few more specific ones. Here are several ways in which ERP systems for ETO are set to change:
1. Software integrations will become more extensive as manufacturers seek better financial visibility
An ERP system is not an island, especially not in ETO manufacturing. It is instead designed to integrate with a wide range of other tools, including:
- Accounting systems.
- 3-D CAD solutions.
- Customer relationship management software.
- Time and attendance systems
- The Microsoft Office suite.
“The right CRM suite makes it easy for you to find, track and
close new business.”
In ETO manufacturing, the right CRM suite makes it easy for you to find, track and close new business while personalizing your client relationships. With a straightforward internal CRM platform, it is simple to pull customer data and run the reports you need to see where your operations are at any given point in time.
2. Automation and usability will be essential
ERP solutions are frequently portrayed as cost centers due to the high price tags of initial implementations. They can cost between $10,000 and several million dollars, depending on the size of the business. There are additional costs too, such as the ones for database management systems and various software licenses for other applications that will tie into your ERP system.
With these costs in mind, manufacturers have looked to transform their ERP systems into engines of competitive advantage that quickly pay back the investment. A common approach in this regard is to seek ERP solutions with well-honed features for fulfilling orders, creating accurate estimates based on past jobs and compiling contracts for review and acceptance.
Modern ERP systems are better equipped for this task than legacy ones, in part because they are so well-integrated as well as highly automated, specialized and easy to use. Accordingly, they stem the data entry errors, duplicate work and lost productivity commonly associated with more manual-oriented solutions.
3. Competition in the ERP sphere continues to be strong
The ERP vendor space is crowded. Panorama Consulting listed more than 120 vendors as of early 2016, ranging from large, traditional vendors to ones that serve niches such as CRM and manufacturing. Panorama Consulting revealed that no single solution dominated in all of the categories it assessed, such as implementation cost and duration.
The proliferation of ERP systems and competition has given manufacturers more options than ever before. However, for ETO manufacturers the choices are few as they require specific features in an ERP system, such as a dynamically changing nested BOM. Many ERP systems are built for traditional mass-manufacturers but are marketed to sub-verticals like engineer-to-order and make-to-order manufacturers, without understanding their needs and without the features they need.
Total ETO is an exceptionally configurable and affordable ERP | MRP solution built by Engineers for Engineers, exclusively for ETO (engineer-to-order) manufacturers. It can be connected to any accounting system like QuickBooks or Sage as well as any CAD package like AutoDesk Inventor or SolidWorks. With a modern, industry-specific platform, extensive automation and tools for quotation and negotiation, Total ETO enables teams to reduce their clerical mistakes and get on solid footing.
Learn more about Total ETO by requesting a demo today.