In today’s manufacturing Industry, things are expected to operate like a well-oiled machine. Manufacturers are responsible for making what we buy every day in our economy, otherwise known as our Gross Domestic Product. This industry essentially takes useless materials, places them on an assembly line, and creates something of value. As you can imagine, each of these different companies are as unique as the products they create… so shouldn’t their software be? For instance, a company that makes hundreds of tires within one day must have a system in place to order the rubber, bolts, metal, and all other materials. There needs to be a pretty complex system to track, order, and maintain the process of getting there. With parts being delivered on-site from all over the world, it’s very important that the speed of their software application matches the speed that they want to do business.
SCM, ERP, or custom solution?
Imagine trying to track all of these moving parts (literally) without technology? It would be a disaster. The first solutions created to manage the manufacturing industry were very specific types of software, either an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or SCM (Supply Chain Management).
SCM’s like Fish Bowl manage all the different materials. An SCM might keep track of each material, ensuring it is always stocked to complete the next day’s order. Some complaints about these systems are that it’s incredibly difficult to access information within them. For example, if a quote is made for a potential customer, there is no way to access that information later on. Luckily, modern cloud-based solutions have addressed this issue, and make both storing and sharing information easier than ever.
ERP’s streamline business processes and reduce repetitive manual data entry. They serve as a central hub where companies can manage their data. They were created to handle large amounts of data critical for manufacturing industries. Out-of-the-box software like Epicor or Oracle + Netsuite are often chosen by manufacturing companies because of their notoriety. NetSuite provides a list of limitations that come along with choosing their software– or any ERP for that matter. And, some of them are important functions within a business: marketing, assigning tasks, support, and generating a report to make informed decisions. All of these become more complicated when the software is set in stone. Some reasons companies are opting for custom software instead of pre-packaged software are obvious: the original solutions were entirely too specialized. Now, there are cloud-based solutions that are much more compatible with other software systems, and are accessible from any wifi-enabled device. Read on for even more reasons…
It’s not a perfect match
Depending on what a company manufactures, Supply Chain Management software or Enterprise Resource Planning software will be more effective. But making a choice between these two leaves many functions to be carried out manually. Manufacturing ranges from food and beverage to transportation, to textiles like paper and leather, all the way to computers and technology. With a custom software solution, an integration specialist can easily address the list above to connect different (often free) applications to carry out those processes as part of daily business. With a custom solution, you can have the best of both worlds– or any for that matter. Although it can be difficult to configure specific role-based aspects with an out-of-the-box software system, this is what platforms like Quick Base were created to do. Quick Base can assign certain tasks to every different role because clearly, the floor assembler’s checklist is going to look very different from the product manager’s. Quick Base shows the user only what’s pertinent to their role, making the whole system easier to use.
No control over the product roadmap
With out-of-the-box software, the production process is set in stone. So, companies might need to alter their production process to fit the software, instead of the other way around. These annoying little ‘workarounds’ introduce room for error and lost time. It becomes even more of a hang-up when that software company rolls out a new update, forcing companies to alter their processes on a dime. This can be stressful for workers, trying to re-orient to a system that needs to work well in order to meet the output expectations for the day. And since this out-of-box software is made for the masses, about 20% of business processes are left out. On top of all the adaptation that customers are doing, they are still paying for features in that off-the-shelf software that they aren’t using. With custom software, from the very beginning, the software is adapted to the way that works best for their current or ideal processes.
Sub-par support in a heavily regulated industry
Mistakes happen and things go wrong. When something gets deleted or you need help accomplishing an out-of-the-ordinary task, it’s nice to have support available. When a manufacturer opts for custom software, they will have access to their whole integration team, the software company they’re using, and the community experts that are all a simple call or chat away. One of the main complaints about the out-of-the-box software company, Fish Bowl, is their lack of support. All this is often made more complicated by the fact that companies are working to keep up in heavily regulated industries. It can be complicated to maintain SOX compliance for example, but not with Quick Base. Integration experts can install an automatic checklist to make sure processes are up to standard, no matter what standard the company is working to meet. Should the company ever miss a standard, Quick Base can generate reports on just about anything within the company, making it simple to pinpoint what went wrong, and how to prevent that mistake from happening in the future. This is yet another handy feature that is only available to those who opt for a custom software solution.
Price is an important aspect of this comparison because often times, the assumption is made that pre-made software will be worth the large sticker price. Sure, there are fewer decisions involved, which might seem easier, but if it’s the wrong one, does it really matter? Especially if it will end up costing the company later on. With those pre-packaged software companies, they like to provide the option of Configuration after their processes are rolled out. This requires a significant amount of buy-in, considering configuration later is the same thing as customization up front. With custom software, this is part of the price you’re quoted with. This is a courtesy big-name software companies aren’t offering. Better to configure a solid custom solution in the first place.
Customization takes the cake
No company can afford the price of falling behind the new industry standard for productivity. Manufacturers understand that their output is only as good as their production method, so this software choice is an important one. If the chosen software doesn’t fit the assembly line’s production method people work around the system, causing duplication of effort, efficiency leaks, and possible mistakes. And, simple mistakes can have costly side-effects in an industry where expensive parts are ordered in bulk. Along those lines, a strong team of integration experts can amend Quick Base to be as person-centered or as automated as the company needs. Meaning, small part orders like nuts and bolts could be processed, requested, and paid for automatically, while a bulk order on more expensive items won’t be sent through until a human approves it. Clearly, custom software offers more flexibility and opportunities to manufacturing companies than they ever had before.
For more tips-and-tricks and how-to articles about Workato and Quick Base development, check out our full Knowledge Base. Here you can find articles ranging from Quick Bases and Workato’s most basic features to more Outside of the Box ideas.
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