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ERP Software advice

JohnBat

Plastic
Joined
May 2, 2018
I have been working in collaboration with a lot of small jobbing shops in Adelaide, South Australia and they all have the same problem that none of them effectively manage their quotation and manufacturing processes. Most of them try to utilise accounting software such as MYOB and Xero, which then creates a mountain of paper work to track and manage their jobs and orders which then leads them into using no system, so everything becomes verbal and leads to poor quality and late deliveries when orders increase.

I am seeking advice from similar manufacturers that do high mix low volume jobbing type work to find out what software solutions they use. Most businesses that do this type of work typically have 3 – 10 employees and work on tight budgets so I am looking for solutions that are user friendly and affordable as I have used systems like ECi M1 which are great for larger businesses but a little complex for smaller owner operator businesses. The ideal solution would be able to create quotations for multiple quantities of the same item, then turn the quote into a job traveller for the shop floor with trackable purchase orders and labour against the job. I have looked at a lot of the add-on programs for Xero and MYOB but they all appear to be aimed at trade-based services and jobbing shops.
 

motion guru

Diamond
Joined
Dec 8, 2003
Location
Yacolt, WA
We have 55 employees and do high mix / low volume custom machine design and manufacturing serving a dozen different industries. If any of our products goes high volume, we typically seek job shops to do the machining and use our machine shop more for prototype / first article work.

We used a software package initially called "Parts & Vendors" which worked great but not integrated with accounting so we just did journal entries to Quick Books - then we implemented "Encompix" which some folks in our company really liked but on the engineering / manufacturing side - it was a HUGE time suck with very poor interface and completely worthless reporting tools for looking at historical data and quoting jobs. We are giving it the boot this year and moving to a new system.

The link above (Atlas) looks like a company that evaluates what you do and helps you find the best ERP software for your business. This is what we are doing using a different company. We are working primarily with this guy and he listens and understands the implications of high mix / low volume manufacturing versus high volume widget manufacturing. Unlike many of the folks we have talked to who have demonstrated a high level of incompetent confidence . . . Harry is blunt, competent and gets to the point.
 

Dupa3872

Stainless
Joined
May 1, 2007
Location
Boston Hyde park Ma.
We use Job Boss. The system has been set up for over a year now and we have not moved past using it to quote our jobs. I do all the quotes and find it very useful and accurate. I will revisit this thread and write more it's a busy day and I'm needed on the floor.

Make Chips Boys !

Ron
 

The Dude

Hot Rolled
Joined
Oct 19, 2010
Location
Portland, OR
Most small companies treat ERP software like a disease, as opposed to a nutrient, which is what it should be. On the minus side, you have pushy sales people, systems that tend to be more complicated than necessary and a price that certainly isn't "freeware". Before you write off using a system like E2, Jobboss or Global Shop, do some math. Let's say a system will cost you $20K (USD) to get into the first year and takes some training & learning to properly utilize. Now let's say that it will make your quoting at least 10% more accurate, your machines 10% busier, and result in fewer mistakes and less time for quoting. All of this is close enough to reality if you use it properly. How much is all of that worth in the first year? $5K? $50K $100K. There are two other factors worth considering:

1. Properly selected and implemented ERP software is a growth tool, just like buying new and more capable machinery. Do you want to grow? If so, do it now rather than later.

2. Software won't automatically make processes easier if you're not really performing them manually. If you are making napkin sketches and then buy a CAD system, who's going to use it? The same applies to quoting in an ERP system. If you typically "eyeball" your pricing, it's highly unlikely that a quoting module on an ERP system will get utilized. But if you're making detailed drawings in paper or wearing the number off a calculator or your keyboard in Excel, a quoting system can make life easy. Very easy!

Good luck and I don't have a problem saying I am pro ERP!
The Dude
 

Whysosharp

Cast Iron
Joined
Apr 8, 2015
Location
CT, USA
We use a piece of software called Realtrac. It’s very intuitive. You can create quotes for multiple quantities of the same part and if you get the job you can create it into a job simply by going to the quote and clicking the create job button. It transfers the BOM and traveler to the now current job and if you have your guys login into to the operations as they go you can get some pretty accurate costing information out of it. It also manages inventory. It’s super easy to use, I think it took me about a week to get it nailed down and I’m not a computer guy
 

Jason H

Stainless
Joined
Mar 29, 2006
Location
Los Angeles, CA.
Been using Misys and Quickbooks Enterprise combo for about a year now and very happy with it. We are a custom manufacturer of textile products and can do as little as one widget.
 

adamm

Cast Iron
Joined
Sep 19, 2008
Location
Kingston, ON
Most small companies treat ERP software like a disease, as opposed to a nutrient, which is what it should be.

For the most part, that is just the well earned reputation of various ERP packages. Once bitten, twice shy, and all that. I understand why the OP started this thread, because there is a lot of time wasting, black holes that suck in all available time and money while not delivering an ROI. From what I've seen, an ERP needs at least a full time admin person to keep it running. For a 3 - 10 person shop, that is a lot of overhead.

Since you're pro ERP, I'm curious what packages you've used that have delivered the goods.
 

The Dude

Hot Rolled
Joined
Oct 19, 2010
Location
Portland, OR
Since you're pro ERP, I'm curious what packages you've used that have delivered the goods.

I work with one shop that uses E2 and another that I helped implement Global Shop. I also developed a custom system at my last place of employment that worked "just sweet". The GS shop even made a seamless ownership transition (just talked to them and they are using it "just fine"). Talked to a guy last week who was using "Exact Online" which, according to him was the cloud version of Jobboss (said it was okay but liked JB better, which is what he used at a previous company).

You do make a good "implied" point about the selling of these packages to companies but I put the due diligence factor on the customer, just like buying a used car (you could make the argument that it's stupid people who buy bad used cars from used car sales people). A good company will understand it's information flows and due the proper evaluation as to which system will provide the best functionality and support (by finding and talking to other users). They will understand that, even though the salesperson pushes the ability to track WIP through barcoding, it's not a needed functionality for their shop and they'll avoid putting all the extra activity and IT technology on the shop floor.

One thing I didn't state is that I am NOT pro ERP from the standpoint that most companies offer their software. But they all have functionality that can work properly for your shop (if you chose the right one). The shop I helped get GS doesn't have full-time IT. Even with the custom system, I'm wasn't fulltime IT (we hired that out). It's not "IT" that you need, it's the ability to understand the information flow requirements (quote request > quote calculation > quote issue > order acceptance > order processing > work order/traveler > invoice, etc.). Then there's all the other support information flows (inventory, purchasing, tooling, etc.).

There's also an irony. A lot of shops say that ERP and lean manufacturing "don't work". LMFAO!!!! I've seen it work a bazillion times in all industries (if it works building a house or treating a patient, it will work in a manufacturing environment). It's just a lot easier to say that it won't work because then you don't have to do it. But the big irony is that, if you understand and practice lean, your ERP system can function a lot better and easier (use Kanban for ordering/inventory and don't track WIP).

After a variety of career work, I'm now self-employed (which I enjoy immensely) and I want to get towards working with companies on improving their information flows (which, for manufacturing, is mostly ERP). There is HUGE opportunity there for most companies to improve. But it's a tough sell because most companies treat it like a disease (as I mentioned in my first post) and I'm rethinking my efforts as a result of that (and may just stick with my fixturing, machinery, labor, quality stuff). I can't spend a lot of time trying to sell refrigerators to people who could use them but are afraid of them because they can't understand the technology in them (hope you understand, that't the basic analogy). I've been talking to a small company about making a custom quoting system for an OEM product but it's been a painfully slow process, and that's just trying to get him out of Excel and into Access for about $3-4K.

The Dude
 

adamm

Cast Iron
Joined
Sep 19, 2008
Location
Kingston, ON
I'm not anti-ERP, but I'm strongly anti-CRAPPY-ERP.

Thanks for your input on the list. I've been involved with one on your list, and it was pretty bad. I don't know if it was the integrator, or your experience was with a newer version. It was such a time drain to use. I'm pretty sure it added 2 man-years of labour to operate the system per year (data entry, data extraction, IT, etc, etc). It was way slower than our previous system, and objectively, way slower than it ought to be. Things that literally should take less than a second to enter took 10's of seconds to enter. Tons of extra clicks and switching windows and tabs because the workflow sucked. Took tasks that were about 5 minutes on our old system, and made them into 20 minute tasks.

I think it is an industry ripe for disruption, but a new contender would need to fight back against the poor experiences that the current offerings have foisted on (some of?) their users.
 

The Dude

Hot Rolled
Joined
Oct 19, 2010
Location
Portland, OR
I'm not anti-ERP, but I'm strongly anti-CRAPPY-ERP.

Thanks for your input on the list. I've been involved with one on your list, and it was pretty bad. I don't know if it was the integrator, or your experience was with a newer version. It was such a time drain to use. I'm pretty sure it added 2 man-years of labour to operate the system per year (data entry, data extraction, IT, etc, etc). It was way slower than our previous system, and objectively, way slower than it ought to be. Things that literally should take less than a second to enter took 10's of seconds to enter. Tons of extra clicks and switching windows and tabs because the workflow sucked. Took tasks that were about 5 minutes on our old system, and made them into 20 minute tasks.

I think it is an industry ripe for disruption, but a new contender would need to fight back against the poor experiences that the current offerings have foisted on (some of?) their users.

Here's the big irony: You would think, that with all of the available technology today (how long ago did we put a man on the moon?), that information systems would be nearly "perfect". Here's the two situations I find most common: the information systems in a company are extremely "lacking" (outdated, too simple, etc.) or extremely overwhelming (to the point where companies can't operate them effectively). It's rare to find a company who has systems that are even closely matched to their needs (even though such systems do exist). There are huge contributing factors to this but I'd put the two basic ones at: systems are "oversold" by the sales people and not properly evaluated by the companies. Lots of secondary contributing factors after that: too busy making parts to properly evaluate, hand it off to an IT person to evaluate (big mistake), take the sales persons word for it, don't properly train, etc. etc. Notice how most of the contributing factors are on the buyer's end? Buyer beware!

I feel for you, sounds like someone else pulled the trigger on a system that may or may not be good but, at the very least, hasn't ponied up for good training. There's a lot of pain in using a system that sucks (or at least sucks for how it's being used).

The Dude
 

regisphilbin

Plastic
Joined
May 31, 2018
I'd like to throw my 2 cents in...the past few months I've looked at over 40 ERP systems, slogging through lots of sales brochures and demo videos. I think it's real helpful in getting to actually use the software and trying things out. I found Cetec ERP offers a free 30 day trial where all aspects of the software is available to try out. I've been using it for a week now and I'm impressed with the depth of the product as it can manage financials, CRM, Mfg Workflow, QMS tasks and document management. Once the trial is over, the SaaS cost is very reasonable at $40/user/month. Good luck with finding something that works for you.
 

DukeJCDC

Plastic
Joined
Mar 5, 2017
I'm currently in the process of building a software aimed for lower budget small shops to plug this gap. I've been fighting this same issue my whole career and have always ended up building my own program.

I will have a functional program up by the end of the year, hopefully in the fall.
 

Mud

Diamond
Joined
May 20, 2002
Location
South Central PA
I'd like to throw my 2 cents in...the past few months I've looked at over 40 ERP systems, slogging through lots of sales brochures and demo videos. I think it's real helpful in getting to actually use the software and trying things out. I found Cetec ERP offers a free 30 day trial where all aspects of the software is available to try out. I've been using it for a week now and I'm impressed with the depth of the product as it can manage financials, CRM, Mfg Workflow, QMS tasks and document management. Once the trial is over, the SaaS cost is very reasonable at $40/user/month. Good luck with finding something that works for you.

I looked at their site, looks like cloud only. Not for me.
 

Mud

Diamond
Joined
May 20, 2002
Location
South Central PA
I'm currently in the process of building a software aimed for lower budget small shops to plug this gap. I've been fighting this same issue my whole career and have always ended up building my own program.

I will have a functional program up by the end of the year, hopefully in the fall.

Please report back, I need something, gave up on 2 systems so far.
 

munruh

Hot Rolled
Joined
Jan 3, 2011
Location
Kansas
We use a piece of software called Realtrac. It’s very intuitive. You can create quotes for multiple quantities of the same part and if you get the job you can create it into a job simply by going to the quote and clicking the create job button. It transfers the BOM and traveler to the now current job and if you have your guys login into to the operations as they go you can get some pretty accurate costing information out of it. It also manages inventory. It’s super easy to use, I think it took me about a week to get it nailed down and I’m not a computer guy

We use Realtrac also. It's easy to learn. I wish they had a cloud version, but they don't. First we tried Exact Online, but it was very difficult. It's more of an accounting software.
 








 
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