“I don’t need a manufacturing ERP system to run my business.” This was probably the first thought that crossed your mind after reading the title above, but before making a final decision, you should read the rest of this post.
To begin with, ERP systems have been developed as a result of a complex business concept, which encompasses a variety of practices, ranging from production and sales to accounting and customer service. Though a small business may not have too many processes to handle, opting for an ERP solution could help it manage activities more efficiently, remain organized, and stay on top of things. Many small business owners already know these things. However, most of them become reluctant as soon as someone mentions “manufacturing ERP”. Why? That’s quite simple. They just don’t think that a small business needs a complex system to operate efficiently.
On the Upside
Modern manufacturing ERP solutions, such as Microsoft Dynamics AX, (now named Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations) can cater to both small and large organizations. Making available functionally rich software, Dynamics AX can help you get real-time visibility across your company, streamline business operations, manage resources much better, and automate your supply chain.
For instance, you can use Dynamics AX/Dynamics 365to:
- copy data to create new tasks, orders, and projects for products with similar or identical components, assemblies, and attributes; this can help you develop new products without repeating the same processes over and over again, which will save you a lot of time;
- add items to forms that update themselves automatically as soon as you hit “enter” – a feature that prevents redundancies and errors;
- automatically check for duplicate entries every time new data is introduced into the system, allowing financial personnel to avoid transaction repetitions;
- view consolidated information, transfer data to different suppliers/clients, and apply changes to all documents simultaneously, which lowers the risk of errors and allows for a more controlled approach to business activities;
- switch from process- to discrete-based functionality, which is quite impressive, considering that most manufacturing ERP solutions focus on either process or discrete manufacturing;
- trim and balance inventory according to real-time updates, regardless of whether the updates relate to permanent sales or temporary transfers;
- synchronize production activities with supplier schedules;
- handle advanced human resources processes, including employee information, timesheets, benefits administration, performance management, labor management, workforce management, and job-specific tasks;
- efficiently manage marketing, sales, and customer service processes, which can help you grow your customer database more quickly than expected; the CRM suite included in Dynamics AX can also be integrated with Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, mobile devices and applications, and even with marketing and sales methodologies to automate various processes;
- analyze data and create reports; role-based dashboards can be configured according to preset features relating to security, user account restrictions, languages, color codes, etc.
Another important point for a small business is that Microsoft Dynamics AX/365 can be deployed in the cloud, which translates into a lower total cost of ownership. Additionally, you’ll be able to scale the infrastructure up and down, as needed; refocus your IT staff to work on more strategic projects, such as website improvement; access business data remotely whenever necessary; benefit from robust security features, including backup and privacy control functionality; and get around-the-clock support from Microsoft experts.
On the Downside
Unfortunately, Dynamics AX/365 can be a double-edged sword. That is because it offers multiple functions that a small business may not need. However, most of these functions are optional, which means that they can be enabled or disabled according to your needs.
An essential aspect is that the base package doesn’t include payroll and MRO functionality. However, Dynamics AX partner network makes available different applications that can be integrated with Dynamics AX to compensate for its shortfalls. One great example is the ProMRO module developed by Clients First Business Solutions.
Unlike other manufacturing ERP developers, Microsoft has teamed up with the best ERP vendors, which can develop and configure supplementary functionality required by Dynamics AX users. Though Dynamics AX/365 delivers a complex ERP solution, it was initially designed as a “horizontal” platform on top of which other developers could build third-party solutions to support industry-specific operations – a great characteristic that is still found in all AX versions.