Skip to main content

CTS Manufacturing Blog

Manufacturing Software Modules: from CRM to Cash and More


Most ERP Manufacturing systems have the same list of basic Manufacturing Software modules and capabilities, at least by name. The differences between the systems are in the subtleties of the ERP and MFG modules and capabilities. Keying in on the capabilities that distinguish one Manufacturing ERP solution from another, can be the difference between a mediocre ERP software choice and one which really impacts your operation in a positive way.

ERP and Manufacturing Software Modules and Wish List features to look for in 2015:

For Manufacturing CRM:

  • Users have full view-only access to other parts of ERP software to see the full scope of the customer relationship – open orders, overdue invoices, quality problems, etc.
  • User should be able to initiate an e-mail from within the CRM module with reply back to CRM software. Copies of incoming and outgoing e-mails in Outlook or another solution saved to CRM for easy viewing of entire chain.
  • e-mail integration available for programs other than Outlook based e-mails if necessary
  • In-house system is web enabled for remote access so that outside staff can see CRM information on all handheld devices and update CRM system with new information
  • CRM is linked to web site for response to inquiries or to review customer orders before sending to order entry system.

For Manufacturing Quoting Software:

There are three levels of product configurator available. All are useful. Which capabilities you need depends on your company’s requirements

  • Standard features and options;
  • Rules based (intelligent relationship of features and options), and;
  • Parametric (dimensional calculations) are available depending on company needs.

Best Available-to-Promise Capabilities:

  • Defines Available-to-Promise date as longest lead time of material out of stock plus fixed manufacturing time instead of only quantity on hand stock available today. Some vendors say they have ATP but it is just on hand stock quantity. That is not how better vendors define ATP to offer best in class functionality
  • Defines Capable-to-Promise as date per longest lead time of out of stock materials plus actual manufacturing lead time from a finite scheduling system.
  • Ability to quote an assembled product (machine solution) as a single finished item with unlimited text description as well as attached engineering drawings or other images. Quotes can be pages long.

Engineering Interface:

  • Does the software include an automated interface of the engineering parts table to the Bill of Materials master file in the ERP system to avoid redundant entry of data?
  • Some Engineering solutions offers a Product Data Management solution to support the life cycle of a product. This should include R&D activity, engineering changes, vaulting of drawings, revisions, inactive status.. This solution is also known as Product Life Cycle Management.

Order Entry Features:

  • Blanket orders with or without identified drawdowns. Each line item can have a different due date and ship-to address
  • Each line item can show full retail and discounted price for distributors

Manufacturing Forecasting Software:

  • Module for forecasting should include planning bill of materials to support forecast for long lead time items (not necessarily all items in the BOM).
  • Program to convert Excel based forecast into proposed solution.

Purchasing/ Receiving:

  • MRP that combines all demand for a single supplier on one Purchase. with recommendation of what to buy without clerical intervention.
  • RFQ capability for all suppliers in Item Master File with fully automated RFQ issue and response tracking.
  • Can use workflow to identify parts received critical to an open order via alerts.

Manufacturing Inventory Management:

  • Offers lot traceability and serial number tracking of part components as well as finished goods.
  • Time-phased status of all inventory items with view of demand, supply, and running balance.
  • Visibility of future overages or shortages of inventory based on demand and supply timing.
  • Supports automated management of consignment inventory and COM (Customer’s Own Material) orders.
  • Can ship an order from Work in Process instead of converting to finished goods. Useful for shops who want to ship a large quantity without having to close a work order.
  • Allows negative inventory

Production Scheduling:

  • Visual Schedule of infinite and finite scheduling forward and backward.
  • Concurrent scheduling of staff, tooling, and work center capacity to support proper scheduling.
  • Visibility of work center, tooling, and staff work order queue
  • Offers what-if scheduling changes that do not impact operating schedule without authorization

Work Orders:

  • Materials are linked to operations or work centers to show consumption of materials when work center is closed or as consumed
  • Backflush at beginning, end , or at the end of designated operations, from RM to WIP
  • Unlimited types of attachments to work orders including engineering drawings, work instructions, video’s or other needed information

Quality Systems:

  • Fully integrated quality solution linked to RMA and vendor ranking capability.
  • Offers incoming, in process, and final inspection for all parts produced.
  • Can produce certification documents that are sent to the customer with, or independent of, the actual shipment of finished parts.
  • Links to third party software for selecting best rates for LTL and freight companies other than FedEx and UPS

Accounting for Manufacturing:

  • Inventory valuation method match to current valuation method including FIFO, LIFO, Standard, Average, Weighted Average, Last Cost/Replacement Cost, and Lot by Lot
  • Cost roll up shows cost at all levels are well as top level
  • Solution is batch or interactive to match the current needs

Supply Chain Management:

  • Is this capability in the software package as sold by the vendor include sourcing, vendors’ performance, more than just pick, pack and ship?

(Field) Service Management:

  • Solution offers support of installation or repair of a unit sold tracking parts consumed real time and hours committed to the job by job responsibility. Parts in case or truck are separate inventory locations.

Warehouse Management System :

  • Is this capability in the software package as sold by the vendor including pick/pack/ship and inventory location flexibility w/multiple warehouses present.
  • Different inventory cost valuation per warehouse based on location and cost factors.