ERP Solutions for Manufacturing: How to Find the Right Fit

needle in haystack

Written by Laura Schomaker

February 14, 2019

With so many moving parts, from inventory to machinery to labor, successful manufacturers must have an end to end system to manage it all. That’s why, the top-performing ones count on an ERP to help them get the job done. But even though they may look similar, not only ERPs are created equal. Some are a better fit for the manufacturing industry than others. And, as you know if you’ve been researching ERP solutions for manufacturing for a while now, they’re a big investment. Choose the wrong one and, you will cause added strain on your organization and magnify the problems that exist, rather than solving any.

So, what are manufacturers to do? How can you sort through all the ERP solutions for manufacturing to find the one that’s right for you?

One thing you can do is use what industry leaders look for in their ERPs as a jumping off point for building your specific list of criteria. Research group, Aberdeen surveyed 130 leading manufacturers and found that their top selection criteria are:

  1. Ease-of-use
  2. Functionality
  3. Total cost of ownership
  4. Time to value
  5. Integration technologies and capabilities


Did it surprise you that total cost of ownership is third on the list? When many people begin their ERP research process, they mistakenly assume cost should be the driving force in their decision. While making ERP purchase decision based on cost might make sense in the short term, in the long run basing your decision too heavily on cost often leads you down the wrong path.


Think about it this way. If an ERP fits your budget, but none of your employees want to use it because there’s a steep learning curve, the system won’t be able to do its job. Or, if you choose an ERP based on price, but neglect to take a close look at your needs and whether the software can meet them, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. You will probably need to buy expensive add-on tools which make the system more cumbersome and costlier than one that better fit your needs.


Now you know which criteria industry leaders value most when shopping for ERP solutions for manufacturing, how do you find the software that’s a perfect fit for you? Aberdeen group developed a simple four-step process you can use to find your needle in a haystack.


Steps to finding the Right Manufacturing ERP

  1. Start with a clear idea of what you need from your software. Use that to develop your list of selection criteria.
  2. Value functionality in ease-of-use above all—even cost.
  3. Involve everyone who will use the software, it’s impossible for one person to choose the ERP system for an entire business.
  4. Define your goals early—knowing what you hope to accomplish with the system from the beginning will help you define your selection criteria and measure your success once the implementation is complete.


Want to learn more about choosing the best ERP for your manufacturing business? Download the Aberdeen report, “What Do Manufacturers Look for in an ERP Solution?”


Ready to research ERP solutions for manufacturing? Check out our manufacturing industry webpage. There, you will find more expert advice on what to look for, plus in-depth information on some of the most popular options on the market today.


Need help to decide which one is the best fit for you? No problem. Contact us! We have nearly 3 decades experience working with manufacturers of all shapes and sizes and helping them find the technology they need to succeed.

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