Manufacturers need advanced IT solutions to price their products competitively. The industry is booming in Connecticut and successful operations are taking advantage of technologies that slash overhead costs and optimize production workflows. These solutions are well within the budgetary scope of small shops, which means manufacturing software and IT support is a necessity for doing business.
Depending on what you produce, who you sell to, and how you receive and ship orders, you need a mixture of hi-tech support and advanced solutions. Here are four must-haves our technicians always recommend to manufacturing clients.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
What is it? ERP software connects departments across your entire organization to automate tedious tasks so you can reduce your human workforce and boost productivity. Although it’s useful for businesses in every industry, ERP software is especially valuable for manufacturers because it can track the movement of resources in real time. For example, it can create and send purchase orders when input materials run low or machine parts reach the end of their lifecycle.
Who should use it? The shops best suited to save money with ERP software are those where employees spend half an hour or more per day manually tracking inventory levels, product progression, unexpected surges in demand, and other mundane tasks. Once ERP software is set up to collect data, you can customize “if X happens, do Y” workflows between inventory, production, sales, accounting, and HR departments.
Order Management System (OMS)
What is it? OMS software accepts orders from customers and gets those orders out the door with as little human input as possible. It can update product inventories on your website, accept electronic payments, and arrange and track deliveries through third-party services. These functions can be handled by ERP software, which means OMS solutions make the most sense for relatively simple operations.
Who should use it? OMS software is best for businesses that stand more to gain by automating their sales and delivery process than their production process. If most of your customers purchase your product online or without consulting a sales rep, and manufacturing your product requires few materials or steps, a standalone OMS solution will add more value than ERP software.
Custom Relationship Management (CRM)
What is it? CRM software consolidates every piece of information you have on a client into a buyer’s profile. This helps sales reps tailor their strategies, offers, and messaging based on data from phone calls, emails, face-to-face meetings, and previous orders. Your team can create CRM reports manually or set up automated alerts when trends emerge.
Who should use it? CRM solutions are most useful for shops whose customers take a long time to make a purchasing decision. Sales reps can track leads’ progress and keep them warm with ongoing outreach and updates. CRM software is also great for manufacturers with a wide variety of products because upselling and cross-selling is easier to plan and execute.
Managed IT Services
What are they? Managed IT services provide manufacturers with always-available tech support from experts who remotely monitor their clients’ solutions 24/7. With a combination of proactive and on-call support, managed services providers (MSPs) ensure everything runs smoothly for a flat monthly fee. If you want to install customized ERP, CRM, or OMS software, they’ll take care of everything from installation and configuration to updates and upgrades.
Who should use them? Manufacturers stand the most to gain from managed services when IT disruptions have the potential to halt production. On-site technicians work only 40 hours per week -- fewer if they’re sick or on vacation -- and can only specialize in a handful of technology solutions. If a network outage puts your assembly line on hold, managed IT services guarantee emergency-response support for every computer and piece of software in your factory.
Manufacturing businesses must be prepared for significant industry growth over the next few years. Hardware and software automation will create new opportunities for shops with 35-100 employees and robust tech support. Download our free eBook on IT outsourcing to learn more.