A customised ERP – a system built just for your operating model – is an investment in growing your business. But it can also be a hindrance if the ERP system you have built is poorly managed or inflexible.
Before you leap into a customised ERP, look at what your business needs now and in the future. With a clear picture and an understanding of what a custom ERP does, you can invest with more confidence.
Why manufacturers need a customised ERP
Off-the-shelf ERPs do a lot for basic businesses. However, once you grow and diversify your offering, an ERP designed specifically for manufacturers starts to become more necessary. There are just some things regular ERPs don’t include that are crucial to manufacturers.
- Warehouse inventory management
- Time tracking for diverse teams
- Job management
- Capactity planning
- Job specifications and forms
- On-the-spot quotes and invoices
But that doesn’t always mean you need a customised system if a configurable solution is better. Let’s look at the 4 steps you should take before deciding on a customisable manufacturing ERP.
1. ERP customisation vs configuration: what’s the difference?
A combination of off-the-shelf modules fit together to suit your business. Configured ERPs are generally lower in cost and more stable when it comes to updates, but less tailored to the unique challenges your shop floor faces.
Normally an off-the-shelf solution with custom-built modules to solve specific business problems. More expansive and responsive to your needs, but also riskier depending on the scale and scope.
If a manufacturing ERP can be configured to flex and grow with your business, then it might end up a better solution. Or you could look at a hybrid solution, a configured ERP with custom integrations and add-ons.
2. Built-in Abstractions
Abstraction layers are simple in theory, but not always implemented properly in customised ERPs. Think of abstraction like an R&D room separate to the rest of your fabrication floor: a kind of innovation lab where you can test ideas safely.
Customised manufacturing ERPs need a layer of abstraction to separate the customised features from the core system. Because third-party updates are automatically rolled out through the cloud, the developers need to be sure they will play nicely before allowing the two to interface. And this is precisely what an abstraction layer does, by letting the developers test third-party updates safely before they can apply to the entire ERP.
3. Consider What You Need Customised
That’s the technical talk out of the way, so let’s get back to what your business needs. Off-the-shelf ERPs come in many shapes and sizes and can even be tweaked based on what new users need.
When researching manufacturing ERPs, it’s useful to talk to several suppliers. Get a feel for their flexibility and understand the technical scope of your requirements. You may find some of those problems you thought could only be solved with custom solutions, are common enough in the industry that we’ve already built a feature.
4. …and kick out what you don’t
On the other side, an inflexible ERP can have too many bells and whistles that don’t suit your business. For example, do you need service desk or contract management functions? Or would built-in quote approval and service logs be a more appropriate solution?
Not everything in a customised ERP needs to be built from the ground up. Going back to the hybrid model we mentioned earlier, you may even find 95% of the features you need are available in a configured model.
In short: The best manufacturing ERP is the one designed for your business now and in the future. Customisable and configurable systems have their pros and cons, and the best way to decide between the two is to speak to Jobman about your specific business goals.
Jobman is a flexible ERP designed for the manufacturing industry. With powerful integrations, easy-to-use features, and a modular scale that builds with your business, Jobman is the all-in-one manufacturing ERP for sustained growth.