Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is a comprehensive solution that allows businesses to automate a number of processes, including:
- Asset tracking and inventory management
- Business intelligence
- Corporate performance
- Customer relationship management
- Human resources
- Supply chain management
We’ll cover each of these in greater detail below. Keep in mind that manufacturing is one part of an ERP, so if you’re looking for manufacturing ERP software, you’ll find it and a whole lot more in the solution.
Accounting is, of course, the process of tracking a company’s finances. You need to know what your assets are, what your liabilities are, the status of sales, the value of your inventory, fixed costs, variable costs, and many other financial data points. All of this is contained in the accounting component of an ERP. It maintains and updates the general ledger and other financial documents to reflect changes and transactions in real time. With an ERP, you don’t have to use an outside accounting solution, but you get to keep all of your financial and other data housed under the same system.
Asset Tracking and Inventory Management
You can take advantage of an ERP’s ability to tell you all sorts of information about the inventory and assets you have in your warehouse(s) and other locations. Check constantly updated inventory quantities, get instantly apprised of incoming orders, and perform cycle counts to make sure your numbers are accurate. In addition, you can monitor the picking, packing, and shipping procedure to find ways to improve efficiency by restructuring your warehouse to put similar-selling items close together and making other changes like that.
Your business decisions are only as good as the information you use to make them. An ERP offers numerous reports and other tools to break down the monumental amount of data contained in it and make it all easily digestible. You can run reports to see how many finished products you can make from the raw goods you currently have in stock, check historical part costs, see a list of sales orders based on specific criteria, and ensure your company is in compliance with governmental regulations by running industry-specific reports to demonstrate accountability at all levels of production.
Also known as corporate governance, corporate performance is a measurement of how well a company is doing at meeting its goals. It includes the delegation of specific roles and responsibilities into the hands of certain individuals within the company. We’ll cover this more in the Human Resources section below, but an ERP helps to identify each employee by their role so there’s no confusion about who is in charge of what. It’s also important to stay in compliance with governmental regulations, which an ERP definitely helps with, as noted in the Business Intelligence section above.
Customer Relationship Management
ERPs have a built-in CRM to record information on your customers, including their names, physical addresses, individual contacts, phone numbers, email addresses, credit card information, purchase history, grouping, etc. This information helps you quickly fulfill orders and also cultivate a relationship with them by allowing you to send special offers to them and reward them for their loyalty over time.
A lot of selling occurs online, so it’s important to have your ERP connect with a variety of e-commerce platforms. That way, when a sale is recorded on eBay, for example, it will automatically update the ERP and then it will be sent out to any other e-commerce platform that you have an account on. This setup keeps all of your e-commerce accounts synchronized and it prevents all sorts of problems that can occur if you have to manually update each one.
Your staff members play an essential role in making an ERP work day by day. After all, a tool that is left alone doesn’t do anyone any good. A hammer needs a hand to hold it and manipulate it in order to push a nail into a piece of wood; it can’t do it by itself. You can train certain personnel to use the ERP and then also use it to keep track of all of your employees’ information, such as hours worked, salary, taxes, payroll, etc.
Whether you call it production, product lifecycle management, or simply manufacturing, this refers to the process of creating new products to meet demand. Optimize your use of raw goods and other resources in each manufacturing job by planning everything out in a bill of materials, work order, and/or manufacture order. You can perform complex manufacturing jobs, from multistage assembly to disassembly and repair jobs. Plus, with all of the other information contained in the ERP, you can add labor costs, schedule time to manufacture items, assign responsibility for each manufacturing job, and much more.
From online to in store, sales all get instantly recorded in an ERP. Then it automatically begins the order fulfillment process by informing warehouse workers to pick, pack, and ship products to the right people as quickly as possible. Since an ERP also contains accounting and CRM functionality, sales will be recorded on the general ledger and also billed and ascribed to the appropriate customers.
Supply Chain Management
Also referred to as procurement or supplier relationship management, supply chain management allows you to obtain goods on an ongoing basis from vendors to keep your operations running smoothly. There are a number of calculations an ERP can help you perform to make sure you are running your supply chains at the optimal level. Measure your inventory turnover ratio to see how many times per year that you sell every item in your inventory. Calculate the reorder point for every item you have in stock to help you automate the reordering process and avoid both stockouts and overstocks. And identify the economic order quantity so you’ll know how to get the best value out of each order by ordering the right number of units each time. And those calculations are just scratching the surface of the supply chain management features contained in an ERP. You can also monitor suppliers’ performance over time to ensure they’re delivering what you ordered on time and in the right quantities. And there are plenty of other advantages of using an ERP to handle your supply chain management.
A Business Automation Platform
Manufacturing ERP software contains many features that make the manufacturing process more streamlined and efficient. Fishbowl Manufacturing, by itself, is not an ERP, but it integrates with Salesforce, QuickBooks, Xero, SolidWorks, Amazon, eBay, Magento, BigCommerce, UPS, USPS, FedEx, and dozens of other business solutions. All of these integrations and plugins allow to Fishbowl Manufacturing and all of these other solutions to work in harmony with each other, producing the same results as an expensive ERP, but for a much lower price.
Fishbowl Manufacturing is a business automation platform that allows you to do pretty much everything outlined in this article.
An ERP allows manufacturers to house many features under one solution, including accounting, asset tracking, business intelligence, corporate performance, customer relationship management, e-commerce, human resources, manufacturing, sales, and supply chain management.