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How to Buy a Manufacturing Software Tool - Part 3

How to Buy a Manufacturing Software Tool - Part 3

We’re talking about how to buy a Manufacturing Software tool. Deciding you need one may be the easy part; finding the right vendor that will sell and service it for you properly is sometimes more challenging. Part of this definition lies with you. When do you know you need it? Should we ask something more like when is enough enough? It seems that manufacturers run out of patience or have some major issue they need saving from – these are not the ideal times, it would seem, to make the decision.

 

PURCHASE-BY-DATE APPROACH

For manufacturers who are experiencing growth – a new plant, new contracts, expansion to new markets, or even acquisition – sometimes, the driving force behind a decision to get a Manufacturing Software tool is that they need it by a certain timeframe. Perhaps that’s just before they open the doors to a new assembly line or facility. Maybe it’s before a deal with a new customer or an acquiring company is inked.

For whatever reason, the driver is that they must get the decision made to help them with the changes that they know are coming. In these cases, we would counsel you to spend time looking at the flexibility of the platform you choose. It will matter to you.

When you need a tool to help you plan for pending growth or change, then you will also need it to flex and change with that growth. Processes you run today may be broken or changed by the increased volume and the system will have to account for that as well. Most systems can do this; the warning sign for you is how easy it is inherently for the system to do so. For those companies that have a heavy services component to get started or who use implementer companies, the process to build new process workflows may be long and very expensive for you. Look for a platform that allows you to do it yourself in automated ways. These are the platforms that will help you accelerate that growth.

Some manufacturers have a different reason for a purchase-by-date approach and the system is more of a savior than a workhorse. For these companies, the driving force may be an audit that is coming due with a prior failure that dictates changes and their due-by dates. Alternatively, they may have an internal driving date by a board of directors or executive team with a segment of the workforce that may “see the door” if things don’t change.

Even if the reason for the purchase-by-date approach for you is that you’re just sick and tired of dealing with the same old issues, you need to consider the purchase a little differently. You know more about the problems that you are currently facing than those who are planning for future issue(s) that may be as yet undetermined or unknown. System flexibility will be critical for you only in that the issue(s) that you need to solve are on opposite sides of the same process or where two separate issues are competing with one another. Otherwise, your focus should be on raw functionality to solve the issue(s) at hand and weigh the cost versus savings.

 

See How Production Management  Works in Quantum

 

purchase-to-avoid approach

What if your motive is to purchase a Manufacturing Software tool to help you without the driving factors we talked about above? What if there’s no burning issue, but you know you need it to compete? For you, the reason-to-buy may not be as clear and it may even be more challenging to put a cost-savings on the items that you see as without a clear definition of issues to solve, trust in the projected return is often low.

You look at this as an investment in your people and your business. It could be either to stimulate growth or to handle what you have today. Either way, you’re trying to align around the processes that you have and the things that you want the system to do. For you, the decision process might be a little more difficult as it’s more challenging to nail down why you need it.

For you, a vendor with a set selling process may help you determine what you need. They can and will walk you through each stage until they’re sure that you and they have both determined that the system is right for you, affordable, and will drive the results you’re looking for.

 

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

 

buying points to keep in mind

Whether you are buying to protect what you have, solve what you struggle with, or support what you’re about to do, you may want to consider a few things when determining the timeline for buying a system to help.

  • Determine the tool flexibility requirements. We could easily argue that any Manufacturing Software tool should provide you with broad flexibility to be worth the investment, but the level and type you need is very dependent on the reason you’re buying it in the first place. Determine that first so you are aware of how that should impact you going in.
  • Look at your calendar. This is obvious, yes, but we’re talking about a very specific set of circumstances here. You want to overlay the implementation calendar on top of your current set of needs. The trajectory of change available to you will determine what’s possible once you put it in.
  • Find your number one. No matter what’s driving the decision, you should be open about your number one concern. With every vendor. Tell them why you’re choosing to buy now and what the tool needs to do for you. Only then will you be able to know that you’re purchasing the right thing.

When you are considering what to buy, the conversation starts to get larger. We’ll talk about that next. There are pure Manufacturing Software tools out there and ones that are spin-outs of ERPs and other systems. Which one is right for you? While it’s hard to answer that question without knowing the specifics of what you need and why - we can explore things we typically see.

 

I'D LIKE TO SEE QUANTUM

 

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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