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How to avoid manufacturing ERP implementation failures

Manufacturing ERP implementation projects are costly and not planning ahead for problems will only make the price tag higher. There are five areas that need to be watched to avoid ERP implementation failures.

To avoid costly manufacturing ERP implementation failures, companies need to plan for five critical areas lacking in most stand-alone ERP manufacturing systems: data modeling, specialized functionality, the user interface, data integration and customization, said Scott Jacobson, research director at AMR Research. 

"The challenge that companies face is that when they try to extend ERP into manufacturing they realize that one single data model from ERP can't support all those individual lines," Jacobson said. That's because manufacturing applications are designed for specific manufacturing styles, scenarios and environments.

ERP implementation failures often occur when manufacturers are running a mixed environment and the ERP application can't handle multiple diverse lines -- such as metal stamping, high-speed data capture and a more manual job shop are some examples

Here are five issues manufacturers need to watch in order to steer clear of ERP failures:

  1. Data modeling. The data model of an ERP application is very materials and cost focused. It's very difficult to model more of the complex processes like exception handling or corrective action.


  2. Functionality. ERP applications are focused on the mass market. That means ERP vendors can't afford to add specialized manufacturing functionality unless it's for a really large company.


  3. User interface. The typical ERP user interface is complex and forms-heavy while "the actual factory operator is not the most computer savvy," Jacobson said. It is better for manufacturers to develop a simpler UI so users will spend less time entering information.


  4. Data integration. There's really no automated data collection integration in ERP systems so manufacturers will need complex scripting and an interface to perform simple data collection tasks. These need to synchronize with other processes in the plant.


  5. Implementation and customization. Companies that want to extend ERP into the shop floor must realize that their current deployment could be flawed in terms of how it's blueprinted to handle manufacturing. Solving this problem could lead to a costly customization or a re-implementation.

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About the author: Catherine LaCroix is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore. She covers technology used in business, education and healthcare.

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