Every manufacturing CIO desires a more efficient way to handle their daily responsibilities. Algorithm and Acumatica point to the right manufacturing ERP software as the answer to making their job—and their lives—easier.
Often the systems we use day-to-day are taken for granted, and when things don’t work how we would like—or information is hard to get to—we just throw our hands up in exasperation and say, “Well, that’s just how things work around here”. That frustration is usually directed at the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and/or the IT department. For the CIO of a manufacturing company, that sentiment is often amplified because the business systems are the lifeblood of every process, from sales all the way to production and fulfilment. And, if you are using legacy manufacturing ERP software or have no ERP at all, this can prove to be an uphill battle.
CIOs: manufacturing ERP software is the way to go
As the CIO, you are often tasked with implementing the systems that help the sales team manage leads and their CRM processes. You’re also responsible for getting the reporting needed for the production managers to schedule the shop floor. And then you need the shipping systems to integrate with common carriers and print shipping labels. After all of that, the CFO and CEO still need to get KPI reporting and the information they need to make strategic business decisions. If you don’t have the right ERP system, all of this can be a very daunting task to accomplish.
It doesn’t have to be that way!
There are better and faster ways of doing things. There are ways that allow us to spend less time digging for information and get what we need, when we need it. And there are ways to prevent everyone from constantly asking you why they can’t get what they need to do their jobs.
Acumatica has revolutionized what an ERP is and is working to make business systems easier to use, presenting data in a way that is natural and intuitive to find. “Natural” and “intuitive” are traits that legacy ERP companies unfortunately often don’t possess. With a focus on real-time data (even from integrated systems) and anywhere/anytime access, Acumatica has built a business system using modern technology that scales to the size of your business without dramatically increasing costs and gives those using it what they need, when they need it and from wherever they are when they need it.
Before we look at how Acumatica can make your life as the CIO easier, let’s delve into what a day in the life can look like.
Life without a manufacturing ERP
As the CIO, it’s your responsibility to support the rest of the business by putting the IT tools in place to make everyone else’s life easier. When you’ve accomplished your goal, no one really notices the IT department. This isn’t a bad thing! On the contrary, it means that everything is working so smoothly that everyone has what they need. But this isn’t always easy to accomplish because most best-of-breed systems may work very well for a specific function but then don’t communicate well with other areas of the business.
In the current day to day of the CIO, a lot of time is spent trying to get this disparate information to integrate and make sense with other areas of the business. For example, the sales team may be doing quoting in a CRM system. But then that CRM isn’t talking to the order entry system efficiently, which results in double entry of data and potential errors. Then the engineering group is using a different system to manage the bills of material (BOM costing) for finished goods. So, there is an additional disconnect between what sales is selling, what engineering is managing, and ultimately, what production is producing.
Then there are gaps between getting effective information in Material Requirements Planning (MRP) systems because information isn’t always correct, even in the internal systems. And, the legacy system isn’t equipped to import forecast information from customers or to even do simple forecasting.
So where does this leave us? What ends up happening is a good portion of the IT department’s time is being spent on tactical work instead of strategic work. For example, the data in the MRP program is wrong, so the people in Purchasing don’t trust the numbers, and time and energy are spent investigating the issues that have led to the data being wrong. Or the products that engineering are setting up don’t always sync with the CRM, so time is spent troubleshooting why it isn’t working correctly. Or sometimes it’s a case of the current system, or lack thereof, simply being cumbersome to use. This leads to Bills of Material and product routings not getting created properly because it’s such a time-consuming process to do in the current system.
All of this leads to frustration from not only the IT department but also from the day-to-day users of the business system. When you’re a manufacturing business, it takes focus away from making product and getting it out the door which is the most important thing.
Timing is everything when the life of your business is predicated on having accurate information so that the right raw materials are purchased at the right time and the correct amount of finished goods are produced at the right time and in the right way. All of this ultimately leading to making sure your customers are happy. It all comes down to having good information that is readily accessible.
Finally, infrastructure to support this model is challenging. If you support more than one production facility, just getting access to the system from various locations can be an issue. Oftentimes, you are relying on VPN connections or remote desktop connections, and this type of accessibility isn’t conducive on a shop floor.
How does Acumatica make day-to-day life different for the CIO of a manufacturing company?
First, those walls between functional areas are broken down using Acumatica’s Manufacturing Edition. Your CRM, Purchasing, Material Planning, Sales Order management and Production Management are all in one centralized place. No more working from spreadsheets or re-keying information. On top of that, the Acumatica framework is completely open, so integrating with outside systems becomes cost effective and scalable.
For instance, a large customer wants to send information in real time from their planning system so that you can create forecasts and produce what they need when they need it to support just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing practices. Acumatica has the toolset to make this a reality without costly and time-consuming programing.
Next, because Acumatica is a true cloud ERP, the infrastructure management that is the bane of traditional ERP goes away. You have real-time access from anywhere at any time. This means that a production facility can be entering material transactions from a tablet out at a work center without any special setup or having to access the system through a client connected to a VPN. This also reduces ongoing costs because there is less internal hardware to have to manage and keep upgraded.
Finally, Acumatica engenders trust in the people using the cloud manufacturing system and allows them to get the data they need to effectively do their jobs. So, when the Shop Manager looks at her production schedule, she knows that the orders that need to be produced are coming from an MRP that has good data. This allows her to focus on getting the product made. Ultimately this trust allows you as the CIO to be focused on more strategic IT functions rather than being mired down in the day-to-day of just keeping the current systems bandaged together the best that you can.
Manufacturing ERP software for the win
You may ask, what does all this really mean for the CIO of a mid-sized manufacturing business?
Changing business systems can seem like a big undertaking. Going from no business system to a true cloud manufacturing ERP can feel like an even bigger undertaking. Heck, any change at all is generally viewed as a big undertaking. But Acumatica isn’t a traditional ERP. The traditional “gotcha’s” that may have scared you away from looking at new ERP systems, or diving into ERP for the first time, are things of the past.
The ease of deployment and system management coupled with an intuitive user interface and the tools needed to manage data effectively and efficiently lower the traditional barriers that used to exist for ERP. This is especially important for manufacturers because the time, effort and energy of the business needs to go into making products and not be wasted on chasing data or managing IT systems.
A lot of manufacturers follow lean principles, and your manufacturing ERP software and business systems should not be any different. It’s all about getting the job done as effectively and efficiently as possible and it’s your responsibility as CIO to put the systems in place to make that happen.
So, this means that having a business system that is easy to manage, offers low IT overhead, and provides the robust solution that your business needs is within your grasp. Acumatica’s cloud manufacturing solution, recent winner of the 2018 CODiE Award for Best Manufacturing Solution, fits the bill.