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How to Select a Mixed Mode Manufacturing ERP

8/17/22 10:00 AM


What is mixed mode manufacturing?

A mixed mode manufacturer is a company that does not have a single manufacturing process. It is typically a combination of one or more of the following modes of manufacturing:

  • Make-to-stock: The product is created, put in stock, and shipped when an order is received. Make-to-stock companies typically manufacture based on forecasts they receive from their customers or other factors.
  • Make-to-order: This mode of manufacturing means that the company is only going to build a product when a customer places an order. In some cases, these companies do not keep any inventory in stock to build the product—they get what they need when they receive the customer order. However, these companies might also stock some level of raw materials that are common across many finished goods.
  • Configure-to-order: This is very similar to make-to-order, but these companies typically have base models of a product that can be configured to meet customer requirements. Think of a boat manufacturer, where you can purchase a boat, then customize it based on choices you are given, like type of stereo system, seat color, and so on.
  • Engineer-to-order: In this mode, the manufacturer creates a new product for each order. These types of products take more time because engineering is typically required to come up with estimates, and there is a fair amount of “upfront” design needed prior to beginning production. In some cases, the way the product is manufactured may be different than the way engineers designed it.

Almost all the companies I have worked for over the past 25 years have at least two of the above modes of manufacturing, and many of them are in an “all of the above” scenario. These modes are typically driven by the type of product they manufacture, customer demands, or both.

How do I evaluate an ERP if I am a mixed mode manufacturer?

A mixed mode manufacturer (or any other manufacturer) should follow largely the same process for evaluating an ERP, with one obvious exception. Below are some resources we have put together that can help if you are in the early stages of an ERP search:

If you are a mixed mode manufacturer, make sure you are asking questions that relate to your specific needs. There are many ERP solutions built for single modes of manufacturing, or they are strong in one mode and weak in another.

Pay attention to the types of questions your vendor is asking—they can tell you a lot about their solution and their understanding of your industry.

We‘re here to help

We typically work with companies that manufacture something. These companies are experts in their products, but not experts in implementing ERP—and that is why they come to us. Our team can guide you through the successful implementation of an ERP solution for your SMB, and be a valued resource for years to come.

Most companies don’t evaluate their ERP on a regular basis. If you are looking for ERP software but are not sure where to start, how about talking to an expert who is not a salesperson? Click here to learn more about Jack Shannon and sign up for a free phone consultation to discuss your situation.

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Bryan Foshee

Written by Bryan Foshee

Bryan is the Vice President at Visual South and has been working with the company since 2002. Prior to that, he was a consultant and implemented SAP in manufacturing, distribution, and service industries.