Are You Keeping Up with Manufacturing Technology—or Is It Keeping You Up at Night?

Feb. 5, 2019
You haven’t been yourself lately. We think we know why.

It’s your legacy ERP.

This isn’t easy to talk about, but let’s face it: an aging ERP system can hold back your entire business. Yesterday’s systems simply weren’t designed to support the agility and speed with which today’s companies do business.

Not only that, but maintaining a legacy ERP diverts precious budget and manpower from much more strategic business areas. Legacy systems are also notorious for keeping vital business information in siloes, which forces you to pull data from multiple sources just to get a complete view of your business. 

In addition, most legacy ERP systems don’t provide any way of helping you control quality. This means that if you really want to reduce scrap, waste, and returns, it’s going to be a manual effort in which you routinely spend days tracking down the sources of problems.

Still, it’s easy to put off that decision to make the move to cloud ERP. Change is inherently hard. Researching solutions can be time-consuming. And any transition between systems will cause some disruption to your business.

If this sounds like you, we invite you to consider all the ways in which legacy ERP is holding back your business—and maybe even keeping you up at night. Here are just three ways:

You’re Constantly Chasing Upgrades

When ERP vendors develop new functionality, refine existing functionality, and fix bugs, it’s usually considered a good thing. But if you’re on a legacy ERP system, you have to install an upgrade to get these enhancements.

These upgrades can be time-consuming, costly, and disruptive to the business. That’s why many companies eventually fall behind on their upgrades. “We’ll skip this one because we’re in the middle of a really critical time for our business,” they decide. “We can always catch up later.”

The trouble is, “later” seldom happens. Many companies end up several versions behind. Some even let their maintenance contract run out. Saddled with software that’s now hopelessly out of date and probably not even supported, they then face the even more costly and disruptive decision of purchasing a whole new version of their software.

By contrast, cloud ERP vendors update their solutions continuously and give you immediate access to the enhancements. There’s no disruption to your business, and you don’t have to worry about budgeting for upgrades because they’re included in your subscription fee.

Your IT Staff Is Stretched Thin (If You Even Have One)

You’re a manufacturer, not an IT shop. Whatever IT headcount you’ve hired should be there to support your manufacturing operations. Now, ERP systems are designed to support manufacturing operations, but if your ERP requires a support staff of its own, it’s just adding to your overhead.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should move to cloud ERP with a mind for cutting your IT department. On the contrary, in a recent survey, 93 percent of Plex Systems’ customers said that after moving to cloud ERP, they didn’t reduce their IT staffing levels. Instead, they’ve focused on redeploying their most valuable employees to more strategic tasks.

Your Manufacturing Operations Are Suffering in Unseen Ways

It’s easy to think that if your legacy ERP system is running and your business is running, there’s little need to make a change. Your ERP may indeed be functioning as it always has. But that doesn’t mean it’s delivering everything you’ll ever need.

For example, legacy ERP systems generally can’t help you pinpoint the locations of materials or finished goods. This slows you down when you’re trying to respond to customer specifications, identify problem components, or track ingredients to their source. And if, like most companies, you have a large work-in-process inventory, these products will be harder to account for if you’re not doing it automatically.

What about catching errors before shipping? If your legacy ERP doesn’t enforce quality processes during production, you’ll have no choice but to take a reactive approach to defects. You’ll need to check product quality after the fact and brace yourself for more scrap, waste, and returns than you’d like.

Three Tips for Choosing the Right Cloud ERP

If what we’ve described sounds a lot like your company, then you’ve probably considered making the move to cloud ERP. Here are three things to keep in mind as you evaluate solutions:

  1. Make sure your new ERP system meets your company’s overall business goals, not just the needs of your manufacturing team.
  2. Build an evaluation team that includes stakeholders from a variety of departments, including manufacturing operations, business management, and IT.
  3. Give every business group in your organization the opportunity to express their needs and sign off on milestones as you move through the decision-making process. 

For even more help getting a good night’s sleep, download The Definitive Guide to Connected Manufacturing.

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