The good news for many small manufacturers is that the options they have for incorporating modern ERP offerings into their legacy systems – or simply upgrading whole cloth – are growing. However, while these switches can be extremely beneficial, some might be concerned about potential difficulties that could arise on the technical side of things. For this reason, and many others, being careful to make the best possible selection in this regard will go a long way toward efficiency as soon as possible.

Often the decision to simply upgrade an entire ERP system is made after manufacturers spend months or even years trying to keep up with changing needs by customizing legacy systems, according to a report from CIO Magazine. However, those efforts in and of themselves can often be seen as inefficiencies because executives or IT workers will often spend large portions of their time simply trying to keep up with evolving demands, and that's time that may be able to be better spent devoted to other aspects of the company. As such, those who find themselves struggling to keep up rather than using ERP to anticipate future needs might do well to make the switch as soon as possible.

Where the cloud comes in
Today when people in the industry talk about "modern" ERP, what they typically mean is ERP that doesn't live on any one system or single computer, and making that change alone can be a big benefit for many companies simply because it gives them greater power to access their operational data whenever they need it, the report said. That also helps companies improve processes when it comes to things like mobile data collection from the shop floor.

Depending upon any individual company's needs, those efforts will typically go a long way toward not only speeding up their various processes, but also make all the data being collected easier to evaluate on an ongoing basis, the report said. That, in turn, can have a huge benefit for the bottom line.

Weighing the options
When evaluating potential new ERP software to use, companies should keep a number of things in mind that will help to ensure maximum efficiency, according to a separate CIO Magazine report. First and foremost is the manageable security and reliability of those systems, because if cloud data can't be properly protected and accessed whenever it's needed, that's a major problem. Moreover, these systems should be simple so that no one is going to make mistakes handling, inputting, or interpreting data.

And while many solutions are cutting-edge, going with innovative options just to have them can end up being costly, the report said. Instead, it's often wiser to look for innovations that are particular to what each manufacturer needs, or anticipates it will need in the future.

That, in turn, can lead to companies benefiting significantly, especially when it comes to getting a strong return on their initial investment, which is what an ERP switch is all about in the first place.