Businesses searching for a new ERP software should first determine what specific needs this software will fill. Manufacturers generally want better software to improve operations, but choosing and implementing a solution is a lengthy process that involves more than a desire for profit. Here are some questions to ask when deciding:

Why do we need this software?
Are you trying to improve manufacturing productivity, reduce human error or scale operations? How exactly do you plan to do so? Manufacturers should be as specific as possible when devising the software requirements they need. The more information you have, the more easily you can whittle down a list of vendors to those best suited to providing the perfect software.

“Focus on specific business processes and system requirements,” said Ed Talerico, director of Industry and Solution Strategy at Infor, during a conversation with CIO.com. “The more specific you can be upfront, the more detailed your vendors can be in their proposals.”

Who needs to be involved?
Determining what solutions you need is a task spanning nearly all levels of the company. It’s important to have senior executives involved, as they’re more aware of the business’s finances. However, companies shouldn’t neglect employees who will use the new software, such as accountants and operational managers. These are the people most likely to know what resources will improve the minutiae of operations, leading to greater productivity overall. Businesses should also consult their IT teams to understand what sort of scale they can handle or if any new upgrades or equipment need to be installed before proceeding with a new software.

What should manufacturers look for?
Once you’ve narrowed down your venders to a select few, inquire about what they have to offer, but don’t settle for less than what you need. Manufacturers shouldn’t rely on price, flashy add-ons or industry hype to choose a vendor, Daniele Fresca, director of marketing at IQMS, said to CIO.com. Doing so leads to software – possibly with expensive, unnecessary features – that doesn’t fall in line with business operations. Instead of having access to what they need, employees will be forced to work with what they have, finding solutions however possible regardless of efficiency. Fresca recommended companies find an industry-specific supplier able to customize software for the needs of the business.

Software Advice researcher Forrest Burnson agreed with the idea that companies should look for solutions beyond the standard applications available. Speaking to Manufacturing Business Technology, he said basic features such as accounting, distribution, production planning and quality management are important, but it’s worth it for manufacturers to look for niche solutions.

Burnson identified niche vendors as one of the top three trends in the software industry today. These suppliers are able to create warehouse management systems targeting specific industries and concerns, providing additional benefits to potential suppliers. Burnson also said niche vendors help keep software prices down.

Interested in learning more about warehouse management solutions? Download the “Warehouse Management for Microsoft Dynamics NAV” white paper.

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