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How to Buy a Manufacturing Software Tool - Part 2

How to Buy a Manufacturing Software Tool - Part 2

If you have scrap, late shipments, overruns, inventory shortages, and operator workflow issues and you’ve determined that you need a Manufacturing Software tool to help, you will have to go through a process to select and purchase just the right one for you. There’s no real manual for that, so we are here to help.  Over the last 26 years, we've seen a lot of common issues that drive manufacturers to this choice; we've also seen drastic changes in the way they buy the tool they select. 


Demands in Manufacturing in the 1990's

In the 1990s, we saw large purchases from large enterprises. Smaller manufacturers ran on paper packets and only the very largest manufacturers had computers on the shop floor other than as machine controllers. Many manufacturers today still run on paper. Paper packets inherently are a slow way to communicate; information on paper is also often outdated.  

Back then, teams spent months, even years, outlining every little thing they wanted the system to do. They expected a long, complex, and expensive purchase process with demonstrations that took a day for each vendor. We were armed with hundred-slide PowerPoint decks and role-by-role, line-by-line demonstrations of specific software functionality to meet their needs.

Implementations took equally as long. It would not be odd to have a project span multiple calendar years for us, even longer for others. The manufacturers certainly felt that they received personalized service. It was expensive (seven digits) and by the time the software was implemented, some even found that they needed some new items as things had changed internally for them. Delivery took months.


See How Production Management  Works in Quantum


MANUFACTURING software today

Software Advice defines Manufacturing Software as “a tool that provides functionality to plan and execute projects from beginning to end while automating materials planning, production tracking, and scheduling and product lifecycle management.” If you need something to help with your processes, keep things on track and automatically help troubleshoot issues as they arise, you might need a Manufacturing Software tool.

But today, you can’t wait as long, pay as much, or work as hard as teams in the 1990s to get that done. You need moderate or almost no interference in what you’re doing, and you can’t afford to personalize something that won’t work for you long-term. You need personalized flexibility.

Here are a few quick pointers for some things we think you should look for in a manufacturing software vendor and their selling process:

  • Find someone who responds to you. It’s too easy for vendors to walk you through a standard A to Z step process for purchasing, but you need to know that they’ll respond quickly, with kindness, and accurately when you ask for something.
  • Ask for something. Testing the above theory, ask each vendor for something unique to you. See if they ask a question about why it’s important and how they respond. It will tell you a lot about how they run their business and how they’ll support you over time.
  • Determine your big win. You need at least one reason to buy this system. You’re going to spend both time and money implementing it; what makes it worth your while?
  • Explore it with your partner-vendors. Run your big one by the vendors you’re looking at and see what their opinion of it is. Can they help you to explore what your issue(s) are? Can they give you some advice on what else they might see?


Here's How We Designed Quantum for Today's Manufacturers


Your "why" in a manufacturing Software tool

Your big win will determine your why. Why you need a system. Why you’re willing to buy one. And that last one is as much about budgeting the money as spending the time to select the solution. It might be wise to start with your budget and work your way backward as some software will just be out of your price range. As strong as it may look, a tool that costs 6-figures may not be in your possible scenarios, and systems that are based on your volume or revenue rob you of the profit that you can capture from using the tool.




What to avoid in selecting your "why"

There are a few key things that you can do to make your selection the right size, fit and cost for you, whatever your challenges and budget are.

  • Remember the challenges of current-day manufacturing. As we write this, manufacturers are struggling with supply chain shortages, missed shipping dates, workforce shortages, and massively rising prices. No matter when you read this and the challenges that exist, you will have to determine how these affect the choices you make and how much you can and will spend.
  • Assess how these affect you. If you know that things are taking longer and costing more in your everyday world, what questions can you ask the vendors you’re looking at to ensure that they’ll “have your back” on these?
  • Avoid the RFQ. A laundry list of every possible thing you need the system to do is a time-intensive and fairly worthless task unless you intend to spend more than U.S. $750K.
  • Follow the lead of the vendor. See how the vendor handles the purchasing process for and with you. Do they follow up? What tools do they use to ensure they’re handling your key issues and not just doing the same thing they’ve done for everyone else they’ve talked to today?


When to buy a manufacturing  software tool

Next time, we’ll talk about when you know the time is right to buy a tool to help you. There are both positive and negative drivers for this. It can sometimes be to purchase it by a certain date to avoid escalating issues; other times, it can be to purchase it to prevent issues from happening altogether. We’ll share a few lessons on either side.

Over the course of this project, we will continue to investigate the who, what, when, where, why, and how of purchasing a manufacturing software solution.  These pieces should serve as a step-by-step guide to get you there.

Ready to move forward faster? Engage with us to talk about assessing or mapping your systems and processes.  We’re only an email away, info@cimx.com.

Contact CIMx Software to see how paperless manufacturing can improve production control for you.

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