There are now a few software options available to small manufacturers when it comes to tracking their inventory management and manufacturing process. These software options include MRP, ERP, or even spreadsheet solutions. So, which one is the best option if you are a small business that makes products in-house?
What is a manufacturing process?
Let’s start by defining what we mean by a “manufacturing process”. The manufacturing process is the set of operations and procedures that you follow in order to transform raw materials into finished products: from purchasing raw materials, manufacturing them into finished products and sending them to the customer. This is sometimes also referred to as “supply chain management”.
The goal of any manufacturing process is to create a workflow that will produce high-quality products at optimum cost and in a timely manner.
To make this a reality, you need manufacturing software for inventory control and to manage your complete production process. A process manufacturing system can help manufacturers keep track of raw materials, finished products, and work in progress. It can also help manufacturers plan production schedules.
There are also other slightly less tangible benefits to implementing manufacturing software that is still nonetheless important to mention:
- Reduce your production costs (and increase your profit margins)
- Improve production efficiency (to identify where you can optimize)
- Monitor quality control (for recalls, compliance and more)
- Improve customer satisfaction (happy customers = good reviews)
MRP, ERP…oh my!
It’s a complex world of acronyms out there in business world, and in manufacturing business world it’s no exception. Let’s take a look at some of the terms you need to know before we proceed in finding the best software solution for your manufacturing process.
MRP (Materials Resource Planning) software is designed specifically for manufacturing businesses and helps rack and manage all of your aspects of the manufacturing and supply chain process, from raw materials to finished products.
ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software is a more general business software solution that can be used by businesses of all types, including manufacturing businesses. ERP software includes modules for managing all the different aspects of a business, such as finance, HR, and manufacturing. Due to the number of features on offer, ERP systems can be pricey.
Spreadsheet solutions, such as Microsoft Excel, can also be used to track manufacturing and inventory management-related data. However, spreadsheet solutions are generally not as comprehensive or user-friendly as MRP or ERP software and can quickly become unwieldy as the business scales.
In summary, MRP software is the ideal solution for small manufacturers who want to track and manage all aspects of their manufacturing operations. These manufacturing software systems can help you track your inventory, manage your production process, and plan your production schedules. They can also help you monitor quality control and reduce production costs.
For small operations that are unlikely or unwilling to scale beyond the founder and key maker, spreadsheets can be a sufficient solution for rudimentary inventory control purposes.
What features are important in choosing manufacturing process software?
So, now that you have narrowed down the software choices a little, let’s take a look at some of the features you’ll want to be on the lookout for.
Any MRP or ERP software you choose should have the ability to track all aspects of your manufacturing process, from raw materials to your finished products. Tracking only product stock levels (which many inventory management software solutions do) is only one half of the picture for any business that makes their products in-house.
The manufacturing and inventory management software you choose should also be able to generate detailed reports so you can see where inefficiencies exist in your business operations process and make changes accordingly.
Other important features to look for in manufacturing software include:
- Inventory Management: the ability to manage stock levels in real-time.
- Production Scheduling: the ability to create and manage production schedules.
- Quality Control: the ability to monitor quality control metrics.
- Cost Tracking: the ability to track production costs.
- Customer Relationship Management: the ability to manage customer relationships.
- Stocktaking: to reconcile your physical numbers with your actual stock on the shelf
- Batch and lot tracking: features to enable traceability and compliance
- Integration with other software systems, such as accounting software
- A user-friendly interface (this will help cut down training time for yourself and your staff) Scalable features that can grow with your business
No matter which software for manufacturing process you choose, the most important thing is that it meets the specific needs of your manufacturing business.
3 tips on how to choose software that works for your manufacturing process
When considering manufacturing software, be sure to consider what specific tasks you need the software to perform - both right now and in the future when you begin to scale your manufacturing business. There is a wide range of software available on the market, and not all of it will suit every manufacturing process.
Be sure to read reviews and compare pricing between different manufacturing software options before making a final decision. There is no one-size-fits-all software solution for process manufacturing software, so be sure to take the time to find reviews written by manufacturers that make similar products to your own. This will increase the chance of finding a manufacturing solution that will support the workflows you need.
Consider ease of use when selecting the best software for your manufacturing process. You’ll want something that is easy to learn and use so that you and your team can get up and running quickly and efficiently.
Introducing Craftybase, the MRP solution to track your manufacturing process
Craftybase MRP is inventory management and manufacturing software that helps small manufacturers track all aspects of their business operations, from raw materials to finished products.
The software includes features such as inventory management, production scheduling, quality control, cost tracking, customer relationship management, and stocktaking.
Craftybase also integrates with other software systems, such as Shopify, WooCommerce, Faire, and more, to make managing your manufacturing business easier than ever.
See how Craftybase will take your manufacturing business to the next level - sign up for our free 14 day trial today.