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by Technews
Issue Date: November 2006

This time in English please

1 November 2006

Softline Enterprise MD Ashley Ellington discusses the pressing need for simplicity within the manufacturing sector.
Ashley Ellington, managing director, Softline Enterprise
Ashley Ellington, managing director, Softline Enterprise
The age-old adage of keeping things simple rings true in the manufacturing sector when it comes to ERP solutions. Centred on pushbutton simplicity, in any manufacturing or process driven environment, keeping IT simple and easy to use is a fundamental requirement. The Softline Group's parent company, Sage, recently conducted research into this sector only to find that a staggering 93% of manufacturers do not understand the numerous industry terms and acronyms: This could mean that many vendors are in grave danger of speaking another language without even knowing it.
For both the manufacturer and software vendor to succeed, solutions need to be simple, yet effective. There are five key areas that will ensure ERP success within the manufacturing sector: managing the shop floor; managing customer relationships; integrating the supply chain; automating back office processes and providing realtime information.
Managing the shop floor is where it all begins. Critical to the success of a shop-floor, it is important for manufacturers to have adequate scheduling tools available to align resources. These also need to be integrated into scheduling programmes to dynamically reschedule and re-plan resources to produce the optimal schedule for the business. Another important element is managing the complexity of resources involved in manufacturing, encompassing both your shop-floor and sub-contractors: You need tight financial control of associated material and processing costs and realtime valuations of both completed operations and work in progress. This can be done by using an ERP solution designed for the manufacturing sector.
Customer relationship management (CRM) has moved way beyond a nice to have. Every business needs to acquire, retain and develop profitable customer relationships and the only way to do this effectively is to ensure you select a CRM solution that is integrated with your ERP platform.
Managing your supply chain (SCM) - get advanced notice of goods dispatched and use this information to plan the goods in process. SCM also allows you to record dispatch confirmations from customers or third party systems, updating order status, stock and sales dispatch history.
Automating back office - in the spirit of keeping things simple, this means integration or combining all key information such as financials, which give you control over your local or international business, while fully accommodating domestic markets including legal, accounting and taxation requirements. Distribution - deliver levels of service that exceed customers' expectations, while closely managing costs. It provides the necessary integrated processes and information flows to help you supply total quality in terms of products, service and after-sales support. Even payroll, so no more concerns regarding complex tax and labour laws. Lastly, project management is another key area to automate. Enjoy full visibility of the entire project and understand the implications on the rest of the business.
Keeping it real - business performance management software, also known as business intelligence (BI), is key to making better-informed business decisions. Business applications such as planning, forecasting, scorecards, sales and financial reporting together with powerful end user analysis can now be delivered immediately. Exploiting the simplicity of a spreadsheet and the scalability and robustness of a corporate database is what this kind of tool offers.
For more information contact Ashley Ellington, managing director, Softline Enterprise, +27 (0) 11 290 2900,,

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