If you ever selected or operated an ERP system for a manufacturing business, you probably recall this as one of the more complex projects in your career. Even with the best efforts from consultants and implementing teams, achieving ERP success for manufacturers used to involve compromises. You might get most of the functionality you needed, but usability might be poor. Or, performance could be outstanding, but needed to make extensive, costly customizations to get the software working right. Fortunately, we’ve moved on from that.

Remember when ERP was problematic
Large companies used to purchase or build enterprise-level ERP systems with extensive functionality. Those could take months or years to implement and customize, and it took again as long to generate any of the hoped-for benefits or ROI from them. Typically, users required thorough training before they could be comfortable with the software.

Smaller companies often purchased a basic ERP product that might have been more affordable, but lacked functionality and scalability. They could gain the missing capabilities by developing them in-house or by acquiring other software solutions and integrating them with their manufacturing ERP.

In either case, the efforts and costs of managing and supporting traditional ERP systems could be exorbitant. Keeping customizations and integrations intact through version upgrades and other enhancements swallowed a large portion of your IT budgets and resources.

Companies’ investment in software often was only used in part. You saw variations of what people used to call the 80/20 ratio: 80 percent of the users only used 20 percent of the potentially useful capabilities available. Or, 80 percent of the work of deploying and customizing ERP went into the 20 percent of software functionality that actually made a difference for the manufacturing company.

And yet, businesses kept buying and deploying packaged ERP products. Building a custom solution for the business was beyond most manufacturers’ budgets and comfort levels.

ERP transforms in the cloud
For most companies, the ERP landscape did not substantially change until Microsoft brought its user interface expertise and millions of hours of user observation and persona research into ERP development. Soon, you could work in ERP screens that looked familiar, like Office applications, and navigation became more intuitive.

Then the cloud made it easier to implement and access systems without making a large investment. Manufacturing ERP in the private or public cloud offered advanced capabilities in a secure environment that most manufacturers could not have built on their own. Cloud architecture made it possible to organize software capabilities in form of discrete workloads. As a result, you can deploy the cloud-based ERP of Microsoft Dynamics 365 at your own pace, following your priorities.

To-Increase is also making its manufacturing solutions available on the Microsoft Azure cloud. Integrations are standardized and robust. You can go live with a Microsoft Dynamics and To-Increase manufacturing ERP solution that provides 80 percent or more of the functionality you need. Configuration – not customization – can close much of any remaining capability gaps.

In today’s Microsoft Dynamics 365 environment, you can facilitate all the manufacturing and other business processes in your company, and you can also draw on an arsenal of business analytics tools to help you plan and make the right decisions. Because there is no longer any need to maintain distinct ERP and CRM systems, you can deploy CRM capabilities and manage customer relationships and experiences on the same platform.

Low-risk, affordable, and cutting-edge
The risk of a cloud-based ERP effort is very low. You can try the cloud software out without even having to fund the sort of proof-of-concept project companies often used to run. Users can access manufacturing ERP functionality and data as well from the production floor as from their mobile devices when they’re out in the field servicing equipment or closing contracts. Manufacturing ERP screens in Microsoft Dynamics 365 are consistent with Office 365, but also offer the role optimization that needs to be part of ERP.

Cloud ERP costs follow a simple subscription model – you don’t hand over your budget upfront, but pay for what you use. If you add employees, business units, products, or transactions, the cloud can scale up. When you need less computing power and data storage, it can scale back down.

So, to finally answer the question: The best manufacturing ERP system…

  • Helps you transform your production and business processes for outstanding productivity.
  • Makes users’ lives easier.
  • Grows with you.
  • Enables measurable benefits within your preferred timeframe.
  • Supports a fast, smooth implementation.
  • Fits your budget.

Today, it’s easier than ever to implement and take advantage of this kind of manufacturing solution. To learn more about what the best of modern ERP can help you accomplish, download our whitepaper Manufacturing the Future.