Daily Archives: April 3, 2014

Mid-Market Manufacturers and Distributors Need an ERP That Works!

If you’re a mid-market manufacturer or distributor, times are tough.

Your big customers are adopting e-Procurement, Supplier Networks, and e-Invoicing and want to implement end-to-end Procurement and Invoice Automation to streamline processes and reduce operational costs.

Your component and raw material suppliers aren’t always on time, and if you are not on top of your inbound supply chain, a single missed delivery can put you weeks behind and cause you to lose critical orders with big customers.

And if demand suddenly surges or shipments get delayed, sales people and account managers need to know what can and can’t be promised or the company will look bad if multiple account managers collectively make delivery commitments beyond what the organization can deliver.

How do you meet these needs?

If you’re a mid-size organization, you probably can’t afford a full SAP, Oracle, or other Enterprise-class ERP solution with all of the bells and whistles because they come with a seven figure price tag, which leaves you with few choices. Either you choose a lesser ERP, with a price-tag in your price-range, or you go open source, and pay someone to configure and link it to your systems (as most open source never works “out-of-the-box”).

However, all you get with a basic ERP is basic enterprise resource planning functionality. There is no support for e-Invoicing and order automation, no support for advanced real-time forecasting and material planning, and no supply chain visibility.

As a result, in order to service your big customers, you have to either join a Supplier Network, and probably pay a fee for every invoice you send, or use the buyer’s e-Invoicing portal, and have your Accounts Receivable clerk create every invoice twice. After all, while there are lots of e-Procurement and Invoice Automation solutions for buyers, there’s few for distributors and manufacturers because e-order fulfillment systems just aren’t sexy.

In order to keep on top of your supply chain, you have to buy a separate inventory management system on top of a subscription to a real-time supply visibility system to get a grip on what you have, what’s coming in, and where your supply gaps are.

Then, because material planning is not real time and not integrated with order management, you need to buy a separate forecasting system. That’s even more dollars on top of the dollars that you need to spend for inventory management, order management, and the Supplier Network. If the organization could afford all that, the organization could afford the 7-figure ERP system that it couldn’t afford in the first-place.

That’s why mid-sized manufacturers and distributors need an ERP option that works. It has to be affordable, serve as the counterpart to buyer e-Procurement and invoice automation solutions, allow for visibility-based inventory management, provide full order management functionality, and allow for dynamically updated forecasts based upon changes in material availability, delivery dates, and buyer order forecasts.

It’s not sexy, but in order to have an efficient supply chain, all players in the supply chain have to be efficient. If solutions are produced for some players, but not others, the supply chain will continue to only be as strong as the weakest link.