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Why These Two Manufacturing ERP Modules are Most Important to Get Right

4/24/19 10:00 AM


Why only two?

Dozens of modules are used in just about all manufacturing ERP implementations, so why would we only focus on two of them? Of course ALL modules are important, but these two have the greatest impact on the entire ERP system. 

The two manufacturing ERP modules are:

  1. Part/item
  2. Bill of material (BOM)/routing

Related: What is Infor CloudSuite Industrial?

Imagine this, if you will

An ERP system is like a living being. Some parts are vital to survival, and some aren’t—although the system would certainly function better with them. If you had to quickly choose two parts of the body that were required for survival, most would say the heart and brain. Sure, there are others, but those two are probably most critical.

Using that as our comparison, think of the parts/item master data as the brain, and the BOM/routing as the heart.  Here’s why we’re using body parts to explains these manufacturing ERP modules ….

Part/item master

The reason I consider part/item master to be the “brain” is because just about everything within the ERP is affected by the Item record. The item master is where you define all things about that part, such as:

  • Warehouse/location
  • Units of measure (stock, buy, sell, usage)
  • Product codes that drive general ledger transactions
  • Planning parameters that drive material planning, inventory, and scheduling
  • Purchase and selling pricing and contracts
  • Serialization/lot control attributes

Those are just a few examples of the important data kept at the item master level and demonstrate how this one area touches inventory, financials, planning, scheduling, and compliance. It is critical that you identify all of the data necessary for an item in your environment, and ensure all items are properly captured and marked as required. 

Doing this correctly at the item creation time will help you avoid having to use my “lower intestine” analogy!  I recommend creating an item using an ECN (engineering change notice) process to ensure sign off and completion by all of the affected departments.


The bill of materials combined with the operations routing is the heart of any manufacturing ERP solution. This is where you define cost, planning, and scheduling information. In a manufacturing environment, you need all three of these critical elements to succeed.

Having all of the vital data elements within the BOM/routing does not necessarily lead to success. The process in which transactional data is collected and validated is even more important. If the BOM/routing is packed with all of your required information, but it’s too complex and time consuming for the shop floor to report labor or issue materials, we will starve the heart of it’s blood supply. When it comes to ERP modules for the manufacturing industry, there’s a fine line between designing the right process to gather all of the data you need and making it even more costly to collect that information.

Related: Most Used ERP Modules and Their Functions


Implementing a manufacturing ERP software can seem like a large undertaking. But if you systematically design your process around these two modules (basically from the inside out), you’ll greatly enhance your odds of success. Design the body by starting with a healthy heart and brain!

Questions? At Visual South, we can help lead you down the right path when looking to implement or improve your Infor ERP manufacturing process. We are a full service Infor Gold Channel Partner ERP provider.

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Nick Mendolia

Written by Nick Mendolia

Nick is the VP of Professional Services at Visual South and has been in the Manufacturing industry for over 30 years. He has been involved in many ERP implementations as both a customer and as a consultant. Nick has been with Visual South since 2003.