How to Find an MES Solution You Can Trust

Don’t be “wowed” by software solutions that aren’t addressing the challenges facing your shop floor. Learn how you can find the solution that’s right for you.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Ever watch late night TV or infomercials for the latest inventions offered to the unsuspecting public?

Consider the Flowbee hair cutter system. For just $79.99 (or $114.90 with the Super Mini Vac), you can have a razor attached to a vacuum cleaner that will safely cut your hair to any length between ½” to 6”. For that low-low price, you’ll never have to go to a barber or hair stylist!  Is it worth it? Apparently, many think so…

How about cola-flavored wine? Ever heard of pet-dating services?  Infomercials are full of products offering questionable value.

I’m not arguing there isn’t a market for the Flowbee.  As funny as it may seem, many (especially parents) love their Flowbee. Unfortunately, I believe these products are sold more for the “wow” factor or fancy packaging than actual functionality, leading to a sharp pang of buyer’s remorse once the product arrives.

The WOW Factor in MES purchases

The wow factor is alive and well in the software industry. Some MES customers feel the same buyer’s remorse once their system is installed. Our industry is filled with products sold for the “wow” factor, not actual manufacturing solutions. 

This is why many demos feature a “similar” product without actually showing your work instructions. Vendors sell functionality that isn’t even in the product yet. Many MES vendors make promises their software developers aren’t ready to fulfill. Once it comes time to implement, new code has to be written. A simple project explodes with service costs and an expanding implementation schedule. As the vendor struggles to fulfill contractual obligations and promises, your shop floor suffers.

Companies quickly discover the buyer’s remorse, similar to the oenophile (wine connoisseur) who discovers coca cola and wine don’t mix.

Seeing Past the WOW Factor

When selecting an MES or paperless manufacturing solution, start with a focused project requirement list.  If your list is pages and pages long, you’re setting your project up for failure.  Focus on those requirements and your shop floor challenges, not the wow factors vendors offer to finalize a sale.  Consider this:

  • Modules do not make a better software product, and more modules do not make an even better solution.  In fact, each one of those modules will require an integration and some customization, which can quickly add up to a more complex, and expensive, system.  A better solution would be software that offers everything you need in one base package, with special, company-specific functions added without disturbing the core code.

  • Offering a bazillion versions of the same product doesn’t mean the one you finally select is any better than other solutions, or other versions of that software.  The core software isn’t likely to change, no matter how many different names you slap on it.

  • Counting the number of KPI reports on your super-cool dashboard should not be a core criteria for your software selection. Reports are easy to design and write. A scalable, functional solution designed to improve production is more important. Add the reports you want later, and just ignore the canned reports

  • An ERP is different from a PLM, which is different from an MES.  Each serves a unique function in the production process, and anyone selling you an “integrated” solution has either bundled three different software products together so they look the same, or is offering you a less-than optimal solution for each.

Building Trust in your Vendor

Your requirement list may change as you begin selecting and down-selecting vendors, but the core challenges facing production won’t change. Features and function that don’t address those core challenges should not be a key factor in your selection.

Look for a vendor you can trust. As counter-intuitive as it may sound, you need a vendor willing to tell you both the good and the bad.  Any vendor who isn’t willing to say “no” when it’s necessary doesn’t see your business as a long-term partner, just another commission.

Don’t be dazzled by the Flowbee of software solutions. Make sure you have a solution and vendor you can trust. Want to know more, or see how paperless manufacturing might benefit your shop floor? Give us a call and let us see what we can do for you.

Topics: 2016 strategy

Written by David Oeters