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ERP Options Tailored to Small, Medium-Sized Manufacturers

Tuesday, June 25, 2019
 

Focusing on small and medium-sized manufacturers, including custom metal formers and fabricators, ECI Software Solutions provides enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions for those new to such systems, and those with years under their belts in ERP but looking to incorporate information from other business areas and other pieces of equipment or processes.

ECi’s manufacturing division expanded in 2017 when ECi acquired the JobBoss, Macola and Max manufacturing-software businesses of Exact North America and combined them with its existing M1 manufacturing business to increase its suite of solutions in the global small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) manufacturing market.


This dashboard, one of many available in JobBoss ERP software, enables a quick, yet detailed snapshot of shipments.
“Many manufacturers in the SMB space are looking for their first ERP system, evolving from using spreadsheets or perhaps rudimentary inventory-control systems,” says Jeff Ralyea, president of the manufacturing division at ECi Software Solutions. “We can provide fully integrated quote-to-cash systems, allowing for data gathering and transparency of quoting, material procurement and use, manufacturing and delivery. They can connect their costs to the actual finished product with integrated capability through ERP. This includes the ability to integrate perhaps laser cutting machines and other CNC equipment that produce data. Metal formers and fabricators want to capture data from this equipment and do something with it.

“Those with existing systems,” he continues, “want to better leverage the data they’ve been collecting, and they ask about reporting and analytics.”

For these needs, ECi offers products and partners with other technology providers to provide solutions. For smaller manufacturers, especially job shops, Ralyea points to JobBoss as an ideal product, given its flexibility. The software offers simplified access to real-time visual information on quoting, company efficiency, job status and more, in easy-to-consume visual dashboards. User-specific security and accessibility provides for access directly to those who need it. More than 20 pre-built widgets allow JobBoss users to drill down from dashboards to individual transactions and job data. Actions to correct or improve business results can be taken quickly via the dashboards.

The 2019 version, due out later this year, will provide greater integration ability through an updated open architecture.

For larger manufacturers, perhaps those more focused on more item-based, long-term jobs, ECi’s M1 is an ideal solution, Ralyea states. This software integrates every facet of a business within a single, robust system, according to company officials, from accounting to inventory, purchasing, sales, and production, to shipping and receiving. It provides real-time visibility into all aspects of a manufacturer, enabling users to respond proactively as needs arise.

Whatever the fit for a particular metal former or fabricator, the key is delivering solutions that can bring immediate dividends, or shortening the “time to value,” as Ralyea says, noting that the ERP industry as a whole has been addressing that.

In its efforts to respond to manufacturers’ needs and develop and refine ERP products, ECI Software Solutions focuses on three areas:

1. Enhanced user experience. The company strives to offer intuitive software that users easily and readily can employ to find quickly the information that they need.

2. Interoperability. Recognizing that users employ a variety of software packages, ECi focuses on open architectures that enable its products to interact with other third-party software, according to Ralyea.

“The majority of the software developed today is cloud-based,” Ralyea says. “The old ways of integrating through a flat file or direct database connections are ineffective and inefficient. We want to be agnostic in regards to integration with other software, hence the RESTful (able to function across various protocols) open architecture. Our EDI (electronic data interchange) will work with any other EDI provider.”

3. Analytics. “What can we do to pull data not only from our system but from other systems in the integration architecture, place it in a cloud warehouse, and then provide intelligence on it?” Ralyea asks. “ECi has begun working on that, as customers seek one intelligent view for information stored in various systems.”

Looking forward, Ralyea sees a type of augmented reality, where manufacturers, through the knowledge in their ERP systems, can easier explore what-if scenarios, such exploring the possible results of changing products or processes. ECi is exploring such capabilities with its technology partners.

 

See also: ECI Software Solutions

Related Enterprise Zones: Software


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