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CTS Manufacturing Blog

Comparing Manufacturing Execution Software (MES): Issues to Consider

  

When Choosing Manufacturing Execution Software, can you really be sure that you are choosing the right product? Is there a way to be 100 percent on target from the get go? Probably not, but there are signs to look for.

From time to time, we conduct surveys of manufacturers who have used our services for software recommendations to see if we were helpful and how things turned out when they installed their system.

The following brief case studies bring to light some issues that software buyers sometimes don’t pay a lot of attention to when choosing Manufacturing Enterprise Software that can have adverse consequences.

Aerospace Client: Selected Epicor (2010)

From the time of purchase and lasting for several years, the company dealt with continuous upgrades and customizations.

In those days, Epicor was challenged by not having enough trained project managers to work with clients. This meant there was a much greater training burden on the client.

The outside consultant was expected to be the process consultant and facilitator.  They had fired someone who was initially intended to help with hardware, Crystal Reports and those types of things.  But because Epicor implementation services were weak, the consultant ended up diving into the weeds of the product. They had a few bright spots. For example, the Epicor accounting support person was terrific.

It was, and still is a big cultural shift.  The engineering staff has been held accountable to a much higher level of discipline as to how they structure a bill-of-materials and routing than with their old flat-file homegrown system.  Their projects are very complex, with lots of depth to the bills of materials. They also needed integrated project management to track all administrative and quality tasks in the process.  Projects can last for years from order to final shipping, so they needed to track all costs to a contract to include both manufacturing and engineering costs.

So implementation was challenging.  But they are on a strong footing now, and have referred the company to several other Epicor users, and clients in the selection process. 

$30M Company Doing Standard Products with an MRO Facility: Purchased Exact MAX (2012)

This company was pushing Quickbooks Enterprise system to its limit and was looking for an ERP system they could integrate with it.  They considered MISys, which integrates with Enterprise.

They needed heavy duty material planning to work for their large bills of material. They wanted MRP and life cycle tracking for engineering design changes. They were also growing and moving toward a mixed mode operation, so they needed a solution which was scalable which Enterprise with MISys would not provide

They wound up buying Exact MAX, which will also integrate with Enterprise. They purchased MAX because it was the least cost solution that looked like it would work.

They have struggled a bit with getting MAX implemented. The reasons things have not gone so well is they needed better leadership to run the project. They also felt that they should have reengineered their business processes prior to selecting a system. That would have provided a much better foundation for choosing the best solution.

Furthermore, their  business grew and their requirements changed by the time they selected and implemented the new system.

Summary

Choosing software is not a static process. If your company is growing, you must look down the road and anticipate new demands that will affect the performance of your ERP system. What works today might be very inadequate a couple of years from now.

You also have to have contingency plans in place when you run into unexpected events during implementation (which happens to practically every manufacturing software installation).