With all of these changes in needs, expectations and technologies available, the very nature of ERP solutions has to change to keep pace. To make the most of new strategies, such as collaboration through social media and deep analytics, manufacturers need a level of flexibility that doesn’t exist in old, outdated ERP solutions.
Previous-generation ERP systems were monolithic in nature. They didn’t accommodate change easily, since they contain hard-coded links that are easily broken when you try to update them.
If a system wasn’t purpose-built for an industry, it was probably heavily modified and integrated to many other solutions with industry specific capabilities to meet a customer’s requirements—making the system hard to upgrade.
Fortunately, there is another option.
Now, thanks to the language of the Internet—XML— organizations can deploy ERP solutions that use loosely-coupled integration architecture and are easily expanded, without losing the context of the information. It’s not just data points that are important—it’s how the data points fit into a much bigger picture.
Now, people, applications, machines, and data vaults can be linked in a business network that optimizes real-time communication, remote connectivity and deep analytics.
Flexible ERP solutions and integration strategies also allow variable deployment options, giving manufacturers more opportunities to utilize technology to meet specific goals.
Today, as organizations face pressures to speed implementation and control costs, it’s reassuring to know cost effective cloud deployments are available. Or, blending cloud and on-premises deployments can also help increase the efficiency of expanding systems.
Flexibility is the backbone of cloud deployments. You get absolute choice in the way you deploy your data, making your information both portable and secure. You get more than just faster deployment. You get the ability to focus your limited IT resources on areas where they can have the biggest business impact.
Two-tier ERP deployments offer another way to can achieve specific goals and operational excellence.
Global companies can utilize the flexibility of today’s next-generation industry-specific ERP solutions at specific manufacturing plants, divisions or operations, and integrate with the corporate business system for financial applications, reporting and compliance with parent-company mandates.
Highly-flexible ERP solutions support these efforts, allowing organizations to upgrade, expand and refine processes—essential for continuous improvement when the corporate mandated financial solution doesn’t offer the manufacturing capabilities required at the plant level.
Key employees seldom sit at a workstation all day. Managers may be on the shop floor, in meetings, coordinating activities, overseeing a wide variety of tasks across the plant, and, sometimes, may even be working off-site.
To be as responsive and productive as possible, remote personnel must maintain connectivity and continue to have access to critical data—anytime from anywhere.
Laptops, ruggedized devices, smart phones and tablets make it easier than ever to maintain this connectivity. The proliferation of platforms and use of personal devices creates new issues for IT managers— who must balance access, security, speed and functionality.
Manufacturers need to research the vast number of available apps and devices to find that fully integrated systems, which seamlessly connect to ERP solutions, offer an optimal blend of convenience, reliability and performance.
Access to data isn’t always enough. Addressing complex issues often requires dialogue.
The ability to share information and insights in real-time frequently fuels innovation. Collaboration, using integrated social media tools, sparks problem-solving and creative thinking.
All key stakeholders from sales to production to engineering and more can participate—no matter where they are located.
Most importantly, when the social tools are integrated as part of the ERP system, the interaction is tracked, stored, and incorporated into an ongoing knowledge base where it can be stored and referenced later.
When ERP and social tools are integrated, staff can audit, analyze and act on comments made by customers in social media. This valuable information can help shape demand planning and forecasting.
Highly flexible systems allow a company to be proactive. Rather than reacting to customer demands and market changes, managers can anticipate needs. They can prepare and plan strategic actions, beating your competitors to opportunities, preventing issues from escalating and communicating in a timely fashion.
With solutions that allow you to quickly and easily adapt processes, expand offerings and change workflows—without costly modifications to an ERP— organizations can pursue growth opportunities with confidence.
Whether it’s developing a product for a highly demanding market, adding high-value services, or specializing in made-to-order quality products, a flexible ERP solution allows organizations to focus on the details that matter most to customers.
As you seek new revenue sources and ways to attract new customers you’ll appreciate the ability to focus on these important differentiating assets—speed, quality, innovation and service.