If you are a small- to medium-sized manufacturing company that is growing, you are likely experiencing growing pains. Those pains can come from a lot of different directions, but in our business, we hear about growing pains as they relate to software. As a business grows it becomes more sophisticated and complex, and in turn, the software tools used to manage processes need to match that level of sophistication.
Are things as simple as they used to be?
It is very common for businesses to outgrow the tools they are using. Most companies start off simple, purchasing a product like QuickBooks or Peachtree. These are great products for managing financials, purchasing, sales orders, and, to a lesser extent, manufacturing. They offer a fair amount of functionality for a wide audience, a lot of “breadth” if you will, but not a lot of “depth.”
This isn’t to say they are bad solutions. They are simply targeted to small businesses. As companies begin to grow they enter a different market—at least from a software solution standpoint. They need more robust functionality in areas like shop floor control, scheduling, capacity planning, material planning, engineering change control, and solid cost analysis, to name a few. They typically begin to develop “workarounds” for the areas where those solutions are deficient, which often manifest themselves as spreadsheets or paper-based processes that are manually intensive. Most business owners know there are probably better ways of doing it, but the company adjusts to the manual processes, and can go on like this for a very long time.
Are you “throwing people at the problem”?
Things typically change when the business grows to a point where the manual processes are manageable, but only if you hire more people to manage them. At some point, the discussion change from hiring more people to changing the software solution in order to gain efficiency. Hiring more people brings with it salaries, benefits, equipment, materials, space, etc. If you change the toolset instead, you will be able to grow without drastically adding to your overhead. This strategy makes a lot of sense, but it’s not always easy to know the correct “step up” from what you are doing now?
There has to be a better way, right?
If you are in this situation, whether you know it or not, you are in the beginning stages of evaluating ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems. At Visual South, we help companies in your situation, because it is not an easy process.
If you think you might need an ERP solution for your own business, take a peek at our eBook, How to Select ERP. Rather have a conversation? Sign up for a free consultation with someone who has walked the same path you are walking down, and get some practical advice from someone other than a salesperson—no sales pitch and no pressure. We have over 30 years of manufacturing experience to help you along.