It’s really no contest
If you are looking for software to manage your small to medium-sized discrete manufacturing business and don’t know if you need MRP (material requirements planning) or ERP (enterprise resource planning), let me make this easy for you. You should look for an ERP system. Read on to learn why.
A little background
When I started as a plant manager, we were running the business with two software systems. One was a well-known accounting package that did what it was designed to do. The other was a home-grown production system and we had no access to the source code. It was a constant problem. Our IT person spent half of his time keeping it running. For all that effort and cost, all it did was produce various lists of orders we had. We didn’t know our costs, our bottlenecks, or our open capacity. (That’s the short list of information we were missing.) Every decision we made was based on gut feel and inaccurate/bad data. The company knew how to make their product, but they didn’t know how to manage a production floor.
Manufacturing is our passion
At Visual South, we create a lot of content for our website. We publish at least 52 blogs each year, along with videos and white papers. Our passion is to help manufacturing companies become better, more efficient companies. Not to brag, but we are good at what we do; we know a great deal about our industry and share what we know.
A scheduling pressure cooker
I used to be a plant manager, an operations manager, and a supervisor. I understand the importance of on-time delivery. If a company I worked for wasn’t tracking it, I started to. Anyone who reported to me also knew the importance of on-time delivery.
“Software first” is the wrong strategy
If you search the term “manufacturing erp,” the results show many articles that tout the best, or the top [insert number here] manufacturing ERP packages. I understand that this is advertising and there is only so much space to proclaim, “Look at us!” However, I see this “software first” mentality live through the sales cycle and even drive manufacturing ERP selection decisions. A software’s functionality should not be the first criteria when selecting a manufacturing solution. At best, it’s the second criteria. (In fact, I will make a case it’s actually tied for second.) I’ve spent over 35 years using, implementing, or selling manufacturing ERP, so I’ve learned a few things along the way. Read on and I’ll share them with you.
We are adapting
We are living in a time that is unprecedented in my lifetime, and probably yours. So, let me start with a statement that for me is obvious, but comforting: We are all in this together.
No works orders, no production
For a discrete manufacturer, work orders are the lifeblood of production. The work order authorizes the development of a product—it provides the production team with a method to create the product to meet the specifications for the demand it is fulfilling.
Infor ERP products
Visual South sells, implements, and supports two Infor ERP products: CloudSuite Industrial (formerly known as SyteLine), and VISUAL. We are commonly asked, “What are the differences between the two?” That’s a reasonable, straightforward question, but the answer is much more nuanced because these ERP products are used to run manufacturing businesses, which are not simple and straightforward. At a high level, the two products feel similar; they are both ERP products with deep functionality. Also, at a high level, two manufacturers feel similar; they both make stuff. As you look deeper into the manufacturers, differences emerge and the same is true with the Infor ERP products. For this article, I’ll start by comparing what is similar between the two products and then work through the differences.
A simple concept
Measure what you want to improve. Six simple words, but put together they convey a powerful concept that can transform manufacturing companies. (Point of reference: Visual South works with small to medium-sized manufactures that use work orders.) It’s a basic concept that’s hard to argue with: Collect data, see where the data leads you, and make changes that have a positive impact on the data. Repeat often.