From the moment we receive your order at Electronic Fluorocarbons, several teams roar into action: purchasing, production planning, manufacturing and materials management, tracking, quality insurance, and accounting, to name a few. At your own company, you probably have as many—or more—teams and processes to serve your customers. We’ve found that our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system makes us more efficient, ensures higher quality, and improves our data gathering, to help us meet ever-changing customer needs. Like most companies, we have found three main benefits from ERP: reduced process times, increased collaboration, and centralized enterprise-wide data.
Here at Electronic Fluorocarbons, we are always looking for ways to better support our customers and share what we have learned. Our experience with ERP software has given us insight into how other companies may benefit from implementing an ERP system.
What is an ERP system?
Enterprise Resource Planning systems integrate all business processes and back office functions, from sales through final delivery. According to one survey, 77% of businesses purchase ERP software to standardize their operations; 95% of companies improve their processes after purchasing an ERP system.
The reasons why are clear in these two examples from EFC Gases & Advanced Material:
- With all of our sales people using the same ERP system to enter orders, purchasing knows immediately how much material to buy to fulfill all orders; and the production team can reconfigure the manufacturing line exactly when needed, preventing conflicts and delays.
- For each step, up to and including tracking shipments, our ERP system passes along accurate, consistent data to ensure not only customer satisfaction but reliable reports for future planning, manufacturing improvements, and research and development.
What goes into a successful ERP implementation?
As with any business purchase, if you are considering an ERP system, you want to know what the system can and cannot deliver and what you should look for to get the results you want.
Here are some “lessons learned” from our own process of choosing and implementing ERP software:
- Coordination and communication problems can increase the time and cost of an ERP implementation—which makes communication and training at every stage vital for success.
- ERP implementations go most smoothly when they are grounded in company goals and start with a close examination of every existing system (manual and electronic) that the ERP will affect.
- You should assign a champion to manage the ERP project.
- You may not need every ERP service available; take the time to decide what you really need, rather than overbuying—expensive is not necessarily better. Address required ERP modifications before implementation begins.
- First-time buyers of ERP systems tend to stress price; second-time buyers have learned that the type of support provided by the ERP seller is far more important than the price of the software.
- ERP technology is rapidly changing, incorporating artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT). You may want to let someone else become the early adapter proving ground for emerging technologies; but you do want a system that can grow as your company (and competition) grows.