Custom development versus core product, it’s a debate that many people will have a different opinion on. Companies are constantly in competition with one another and getting an edge on your competitor is a huge advantage. Normally this is done by being different, reviewing processes, and changing the ERP software to sustain and elevate those processes. In manufacturing, it’s true that there are many industries; although these industries have standard processes and functional specs, there are minor differences in how they all work. This is what keeps the manufacturing world in competition and ultimately, in business. So, as an ERP software company, how do you ensure that you’re serving your manufacturing customers while still maintaining your own competitive edge?
As a software provider, it’s important to know what your customers are looking for. What are the industry standards? Industry standards are particularly important – for example: the medical industry must comply with many government agencies like the FDA and Health Canada. If you intend to provide software for the medical industry, it’s important to ensure that your product complies with all government agencies. Keeping on top of the different manufacturing standards will keep you in competition with other software companies, but certainly won’t set you apart. To set yourself apart you need to go one step further and ensure that you are ahead of the competition. It’s important to be creative and determine what the industries want, sometimes before they even know they want it.
Ability to Integrate
One way to step ahead is to offer integration with leading software and hardware. Do your research and know who the leaders are currently – in manufacturing you’d likely need to look at drawing/CAD programs, RF scanning hardware, wireless retail payment software, shipping software (i.e. FedEx and UPS) and accounting software. The ability to integrate with the leading software and hardware in these divisions will make for a simpler implementation and decrease the stress of taking on a new ERP.
Flexibility with Custom Enhancements
Similarly, being flexible with potential customizations will make your ERP much more attractive to a potential customer. Remember, the change to a new software is daunting and the customer has a business to run during implementation, so the more painless the process the happier everyone is.
Stellar Customer Service
This seems like a total no brainer, but it’s dwindling nowadays. People feel like strong performance is enough to build and maintain a reputation and it’s not. Being true to your customers, loyal, and respectful is what is going to build your brand. A customer is more likely to be flexible with you if you are respectful to them. If you charge per ticket, maybe consider not charging them the month of December (Happy Holidays!) or if you have consulting costs, give your good customers a sale on their rates; This will ensure that your word of mouth marketing explodes as your customers share all their good opinions about you!
Reporting is one of the main functions of an ERP. It’s easier to use one-click reporting than to try and muster up a page of formulas to get the answers you need for your next board meeting. Offering a quality core list of reports will make you instantly competitive. The ability to create custom reports and searches will put you ahead of the curve. By making reporting easy, you’re saving your customer time and energy that they can use to run their business.
Strong Features and A Beautiful User Experience
Finally, having a strong list of features with a friendly user interface will be the ultimate factors that your customer decides on. Many manufacturing companies have older employees who aren’t ready to take on a computer at their age, having a simple user interface will help persuade their employees that this is a good thing. In addition, manufacturing companies all over the world are going high-tech, with their machinery and their processes, so why not do the same with their ERP software?
Overall, maintaining a solid core software will keep you competitive while being flexible and offering top-of-the-line custom enhancements and integration with leading software and hardware will set you apart from your competitors and ultimately earn you the sale with your customers. Use amazing customer service and incredible reporting packages to set yourself apart from your competitors, build your brand, and maintain your reputation.