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Manufacturing—Past, Present, and Future, Part 3

Manufacturing—Past, Present, and Future, Part 3

By Bob Sproull

Review of Manufacturing—Past, Present and Future, Part 2

In Part 2, we explored how mass production was the catalyst for other significant advancements in manufacturing, as well as milestone achievements that served as building blocks in the evolution of manufacturing technologies. We reviewed the decade-by-decade progression of advancements from simple inventory control packages in the 1960s to today’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. We concluded by examining what we mean by “ERP systems” and looking at their characteristics.

ERP in the immediate future

Part 3 will examine what the future looks like in terms of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software and how it will impact manufacturing in the future.

Both manufacturing and distribution have become technology dependent in most industrial sectors. Being able to predict the future of enterprise software is a daunting task, and change never comes easily for many companies. One thing is certain: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is here to stay. But what will it look like as the model evolves?

In the immediate future, web-based software, which will be hosted in either public or private clouds, will become very attractive for both big and small companies in search of lower costs.  Resistance to this will be futile and short-sighted, simply because cloud-based ERP makes perfect sense for cost-effectiveness and business efficiency.

Improving business and cost efficiency with a cloud-based ERP system

Think about how much your company is spending on your current ERP systems and associated hardware. Then when it’s time to upgrade, much more money is spent in doing so. Many companies delay this process, choosing to work with outdated software just to avoid the high costs of switching. With a cloud-based ERP system, your services will be provided on a subscription, or pay-as-you-go, basis which translates into greatly reduced capital costs. Additionally, your ERP solutions will be managed by the ERP vendor, so there will be no need to set up or install new hardware or software. These two advantages are just the beginning.

With cloud-based ERP systems, the need for hardware and software management is greatly reduced. What will this do for your business? It will significantly reduce maintenance and electricity costs and free up new office space, since there won’t be much hardware on site. Using cloud-based ERP systems also requires far fewer on-site IT personnel, which was a substantial expense for many businesses. In numerous cases, it was a back-breaking expense. By moving software to the cloud, companies with IT personnel can trim staff or transition those workers to other projects. 

If you’ve ever had a computer system crash at your company, then you understand why it’s so important backup your data. With a cloud-based ERP system, this backup will be performed frequently by your ERP vendor, with redundancy. This means that your data is typically backed up in at least two locations; so, if one server fails, the other maintains your data.

Your information sharing capabilities will also be enhanced with a cloud-based ERP system. Its flexible internet-based structure will enable your team to share information with authorized users by way of an internet connection. Using the same remote access features, your employees won’t be tethered to their desks; instead, they will be able to work on the road or wherever business demands, with full access to the ERP system.

Finally, your cloud-based ERP system will receive continuous updates as the software is improved. You will no longer need to dedicate IT staffers to manually deploying updates because your ERP provider will take care of them. On your end, everything will happen seamlessly and automatically, with little-to-no downtime. Consider the savings in time and money that this benefit will deliver to your business.

Even though I have painted a rosy picture of what to expect in the immediate future when making the transition to a cloud-based ERP system, some company leaders will still be resistant to change.

Coming in the next post

In Part 4, we will explore the dynamic of “resistance to change,” which is the act of opposing or struggling with changes that alter the status quo in the workplace. I’ll explore what causes this resistance, and how to manage it in order to reduce the anxiety associated with changing business processes and systems that have long been in place.  

Until next time.

Bob Sproull

Bob Sproull

About the author

Bob Sproull has helped businesses across the manufacturing spectrum improve their operations for more than 40 years.

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