you a project-oriented manufacturer struggling
to synchronize departmental operations and keep
budgets under control? You need an advanced yet
easy-to-use ERP system designed specifically for
your type of business.
If your company produces capital equipment and
highly engineered products -- such as factory
automation equipment or aerospace and defense
products, for example -- a generic ERP system
probably won't get the job done for you. When
you're juggling tight deadlines, resource constraints,
and rapidly changing customer requirements, you
need a sophisticated ERP system that can track
all this and more -- one that can manage every
aspect of your project, from quoting/estimating
through engineering, procurement, production,
shipping, and service/warranty.
But how do you select the right software? To assist
you, we've formulated a list of four key capabilities
to look for when you go system shopping.
1. Seamless system
integration. The proliferation of disparate, unconnected
software applications is the enemy of productivity
in an engineer-to-order environment. Unfortunately,
this is more often the rule than the exception.
These "islands of automation" can include
accounting, computer-aided design, manufacturing,
project management, and purchasing modules. To
avoid this situation, you need ERP software that
seamlessly integrates all of these critically
important capabilities into a single, powerful
system, facilitating cross-company communications
and assuring on-time product delivery.
2. A central data repository. The ideal ERP system
will centralize all project-related information
in a single repository where it can be used, shared,
and updated throughout the enterprise. This kind
of tight control simplifies the management of
the entire product lifecycle; every department
has visibility and input into the process.
In essence, such a system always reflects the
current state of the project. The net result?
You can be far more responsive to your customers'
evolving needs than in the past. Equally important,
you can shift resources to deal with changing
project requirements, enabling maximum flexibility.
Another important benefit of the central repository
is the traceability it provides, which is desirable
for delivering follow-on service and essential
for aerospace and defense manufacturers, as well
as anyone else doing business with the U.S. government.
The ideal ERP system will centralize all project-related
information in a single repository where it can
be used, shared, and updated throughout the enterprise.
3. Cost controls. The sheer magnitude of many
concurrent engineering projects makes tracking
costs and assessing profitability a daunting task.
And yet, to run your enterprise successfully,
you need a true profitability picture of all projects
in combination and individually -- at any point
in the process. Achieving this requires an ERP
system with the ability to define and control
costs, capturing and measuring expenditures against
the overall budget from the very first project
quote through final product installation. In this
way, you can meet your cost and profit targets
for every project you undertake.
4. Project scheduling functionality. Look for
an ERP system that includes an intelligent work
breakdown structure capable of defining every
project phase, task, and subtask. The most complete
system will include materials, capacity, and human
resources requirements planning and scheduling.
Ideally, you should be able to view planned and
firm demand for all active and anticipated projects
simultaneously, and all of the resources needed
to complete them. Also look for graphical critical
path analysis to help identify possible bottlenecks
as well as the ability to evaluate the potential
impact of all change orders. Taken together, these
capabilities ensure that your resources are always
fully and optimally scheduled, enhancing company