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Fabrication is not an easy business, the offshoring creates the new competition, while the commodities causes the prices to fluctuate; not to mention, new technologies add another risk. It can be the perfect storm, but to weather it, you must find a balance between customer-centric business practices and the demand speed, flexibility, and cost optimization.
Following our last blog discussing some of the things that fabrication companies including job shops and project fabricators should look for in an ERP solution, we would today like to turn our attention to the ERP landscape and ask: Is Cloud ERP right for you?
What’s Changed Since You Last Looked at ERP?
When you are looking for specifically designed business management solution for your fabrication business, you might think there are limited options. A couple of decades ago, there were a number of solutions that were brought to light specializing in ERP for companies similar to yours. These are the ‘de facto’ options that you have been considering.
Yet, over the past decade, there have been new options that allow businesses to influence powerful integration, increased flexibility, and easy customization. This is pondered to be part of the push to “Postmodern ERP,” where the cloud vendors have developed to provide these new options, which means you are no longer forced to function with the lack of control and bulkiness presented by the typical fabrication ERP.
Now, these cloud products are not just flexible enough to meet your specific needs, they have the ability to integrate with your current solutions to make your company faster and your job easier.
Three Questions to Ask Yourself to Determine if Your Fabrication Company Needs the Cloud
If you are in the market for ERP, the last time you likely looked was the early 2010s (or earlier). That being said, a lot has changed since then. Unfortunately, most of the options haven’t changed—the ‘old guard’ of the fabrication ERP industry still offers the same on-premises options you looked at last time. However, if you are looking to advance your fabrication business, the cloud may be right for you. These three questions are important to ask yourself in determining if your business is or is not ready to move to the cloud.
How Quickly Can We Make Changes When Asked?
Fabrication is an industry that is built on customization, quality, and speed. Without one of these three elements, a project, plus your reputation, falls apart. If a customer needs to make a change, you need to be able to make the modifications for them quickly—without sacrificing the products quality.
Knowing this, change is frequent in the fabrication industry, and all too often, a customer sends a change order that causes your people scrambling around to try to fix it. A bundle of emails and calls to make the change and stop production before any more materials are wasted.
Production changes shouldn’t be this hard, and for fabricators, one of the biggest opportunities to save time and money is to make change easier with powerful project management functionality in the cloud. Modern solutions allow you to simplify the change order creation process with full documentation including the revenue budget, cost budget, class, and commitments.
How Challenging Is It to Collaborate with Customers, Suppliers, Subcontractors and Internal Resources?
For these companies in the fabrication industry, collaboration builds success. Collaboration with customers, suppliers, your organization, and often other subcontractors or other parties.
Naturally, this presents challenges for your fabrication business, whose goal is to orchestrate the entire flow of information, materials, and labor to produce a product. For example, if you are a job shop and a customer calls to ask for something today, how quickly can you answer them?
Between applications, data needs to flow effortlessly. Your sales rep needs to have the knowledge that he or she can guarantee that your facility can fabricate the piece. Is the machinery already schedules or do you have the materials already? Designed to integrate, Modern ERP allows the correct information to be in the hands of the correct people at the right time.
Information is routed throughout the ERP solution, allowing you to design, generate a quote, schedule machinery and attach necessary CAD files, fabricate the product, ship it, and bill a customer in less time than ever. With a centralized database, everyone stays on the same page, improving collaboration and speed.
Do We Need to Cut Costs?
Your customers have a trust in you, whether you are local or you fill a niche. Unfortunately, even if you are the absolute best, offering American made products accurately and quickly, the constant threat of offshore price cutting occurs.
While your customers may tolerate a small premium to work with an American fabricator, if the quality or timeliness of your work suffers or prices rise too much, they could just as easily take a risk to work with an offshore vendor who promises them low prices. Naturally, this presents a challenge: cut skilled labor and risk declines in quality or find other opportunities for savings.
The cloud has a number of benefits, so cost cutting should not be the top reason. This choice to utilize a modern cloud-based solution can offer all of these:
- Automation can reduce the strain on your financial staff and minimize the time it takes to complete a variety of tasks.
- Easy integration reduces the amount you spend on hiring a consultant or IT person to hand code connections between applications.
- Increased visibility into your entire stack of applications helps you identify areas where you can improve, and business intelligence presents this information in a way anyone can understand.
- Cloud-based solutions reduce the need for additional IT staff to manage your server room, decrease the cost to manage and maintain hardware, and make updates easier and less risky.
Paired with the increased ability to collaborate with your customers, suppliers, and internal staff, and you can deliver the same speed and quality service to your customers at lower costs.
Cost Optimization, Collaboration, and Change Management: The Power of the Cloud
Here at Crestwood, we acknowledge the obstacles that face fabrication businesses and for many years we have helped companies similar to yours to work with solutions that allow your business to thrive, save you time, and increase visibility.
Balancing with their functionality for Manufacturing and Project Management, the recent release of Construction Edition allowed Acumatica Cloud ERP to deliver the necessary functionality for the fabrication industry, adding necessary functionality like retainage, subcontracts, prevailing wages and more.
As a top Acumatica Partner, we have the in-house resources that can make Acumatica work for you. Crestwood was awarded a position in the first-year Acumatica President’s Club for 2018 and voted Acumatica Partner of the Year for two years in a row. Get to know more about Acumatica for Fabrication Businesses and contact us for more information.