Process Manufacturers: Are You Running the Wrong Type of ERP Software? [SURVEY]

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Take the survey now! Or read on to find out why we're talking about this.


In his article Process Manufacturing Software: A Primer, TEC author Joe Strub explains the difference between process and discrete manufacturing with an example:
Once you make a can of soda, you cannot return it back to its basic components such as carbonated water, citric acid, potassium benzoate, aspartame, and other ingredients. You cannot put the juice back into the orange. A car or computer, on the other hand, can be disassembled and the parts, to a large extent, can be returned to stock.

Process manufacturing functionality is not typically included in ERP solutions for discrete manufacturing: TEC’s Director of Knowledge Services Josh Chalifour pointed out in a blog post a few years ago that the high-level functional categories for discrete versus process ERP software are quite different:

Discrete Manufacturing Process Manufacturing
Product Costing Formulas/Recipes
Shop Floor Control Process Model (Formulas and Routings)
Field Service and Repairs Process Batch Control and Reporting
Production Planning Conformance Reporting
Project Management Process Manufacturing Costing
Product Data Management (PDM) Material Management
Product/Item Configurator Product Costing
Shop Floor Control
Production Planning

But when you're researching or evaluating ERP software in the context of a selection project, it's not always easy to know whether you're looking at the right kind of sofware for your needs.

In the TEC article What Makes Process Process?, Olin Thompson calls out the different ways ERP system vendors position their software:

  • A few vendors never mention process. By default, they are stating that they do not address the needs of process companies.

  • Many vendors start with a discrete ERP or SCM product and later decide to market it as a product suitable for process industries. These vendors and products can easily be identified because they typically have a module that includes the word "process." This add-on module is where they attempt to address the characteristics and requirements that make their discrete product into one for process.

  • A few vendors start with a strategy that focuses exclusively on process. These vendors do not have a process module; the entire product is designed to address the particular requirements of process companies and only process companies.

How can you tell which vendor falls into which category? The first rule is, do not listen to the sales pitch about "process focus."

Sometimes, the difference between the two types of software is unclear even after you've been running it for a few years! But when organizations attempt to shoehorn discrete ERP software into a process manufacturing environment, users will almost certainly need to resort to workarounds in order to overcome a lack of process functionality, which understandably results in inefficiencies and frustration.

What's Your Story?

TEC is conducting a research survey to assess ERP user satisfaction among process manufacturers, and we'd like to hear from you. What’s your story? Have you ever needed to "work around" your ERP system because it was the wrong type of software? Let us know!

To thank you, we'll provide you with a special access key for a free one-week trial of TEC Advisor. TEC Advisor is our online software evaluation and selection application. It contains detailed information about enterprise software solutions—collected directly from vendors and validated by TEC analysts.

You'll be able to select software solutions for comparison, prioritize your needs, compare results, download your reports, and more.

Take the survey now!
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