ProfitKey in 2014—the Manufacturing ERP Solution’s New Look and Status

Two years in the life of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software company can make a huge difference. That is particularly true in the case of ProfitKey International (PKI). Two years or so since our last in-person briefing at the company’s Salem, New Hampshire head office, the vendor seems to have shaken off two major issues that have long plagued it. One was finding a new committed investing backer while the other was significantly improving the product’s once ancient look and feel (for more info, see TEC’s early 2012 two-part article series).

Feeling and Looking Good
Today, ProfitKey is in good financial backers’ hands (and its viability is no longer a stumbling block in discussions with customers), whereas the product’s look and feel has largely become a non issue due to the recent Microsoft .NET-related enhancements within the Unify Gupta Team Developer 6.2 platform that the vendor uses. The unappealing user interface (UI) is no longer at the forefront of prospective customers’ minds, and has been replaced by the “what can the product do?” question, whereby the answer is that ProfitKey Rapid Response Manufacturing (RRM) product can excel in certain manufacturing environments.


In short, RRM no longer looks old and “so 1990s.” Quite the contrary in fact; I’ve heard anecdotes from recent selection face-offs where prospective customers could no longer initially discern which solution they were looking at, whether, for example, they were looking at Epicor ERP, Infor VISUAL, APTEAN Made2Manage, or ProfitKey RRM. The product has been Web service enabled for necessary integration to third-party products and mobile enabled (on native Android devices), while right-click context aware menus mean fewer clicks than before.


New MTO and Job Shop Customers
ProfitKey is celebrating its 35th year in business, and with a long-standing customer base, two dozen loyal and long tenured employees, and several partners (in the U.K., Canada, and the U.S.), ProfitKey has had years in which getting a few new customers would be counted as successful years. Contrast that situation to having five wins in one month only, as happened in December 2013. The vendor’s stronghold remains job shops and make-to-order (MTO) discrete manufacturing environments. Engineer-to-order (ETO) manufacturing can be a good fit for the solution as well, but not truly large capital project-based engineer-to-order (ETO) environments with tricky project-based reporting (although there are large capital equipment manufacturers such as Liquid Waste Technologies in Wisconsin and Ellicott Dredges in Maryland).
Some of ProfitKey’s recent wins have been Sage Machine and Fabricating, located in Houston, Texas, a family-owned job shop excelling in high tolerance machining of unique alloys for the oil industry; StoreTEK Engineering & Manufacturing, located in Talmadge, Ohio, which designs and manufactures a wide range of automation solutions including industrial automation, material handling equipment and plant simulation flow analysis; and Innovative Manufacturing Services (IMS), located in Glasgow, Kentucky, which provides mechanical and electrical engineering services along with equipment design, fabrication, and installation, primarily in conveyors and specialty machinery. Companies like that are typically impressed with ProfitKey’s native advanced planning and scheduling (APS), manufacturing execution system (MES), quality management system (QMS), and multi-media document management capabilities (see screenshots below, click for larger images).

In addition to Epicor, Made2Manage, and Infor VISUAL, ProfitKey also competes with Global Shop Solutions, Shoptech E2, Exact JobBOSS, Jobscope, and ECi M1. For North American discrete MTO and ETO manufacturing companies in single locations or multiple independent locations, ProfitKey seems to be a very good fit. One shortcoming that the vendor intends to address in future product releases is the lack of multi-site capabilities, i.e., the ability to create logical database partitions for intra-company transactions between sites and divisions. The vendor is well aware of the fact that it is missing opportunities with companies that have multiple sites and divisions and need internal profit-and-loss statements that can be rolled up into consolidated corporate finances, while also performing multi-site planning, scheduling, order transfers, etc.
Another major undertaking for ProfitKey is the migration from Gupta to Microsoft .NET Framework and Azure Cloud, in full swing now. For more information on ProfitKey, see the recent TEC Certification Report for RRM v7.7.1 and stay tuned for the upcoming RRM v7.7.2 TEC Certification Report.
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