Manufacturing software isn’t just one thing anymore – it’s a stack of different products that all work together. The top layers are additive, or “nice to have”. These usually include web-based applications that help manage your overall business. Just like QuickBooks Desktop, these tools let you run reports, look at your numbers, and get a big-picture view of your business.
But below that layer (frequently called Manufacturing IT) consists of highly specialized software designed to help you improve key operational functions — planning, production control, quality control, and inventory management. Some of these applications are built from legacy systems that have been in place in manufacturing firms for decades. Others are designed to help you manage information in a more automated way that wasn’t possible with the old “pencil and paper” approach.
For example, production planning software can show you not just what’s happening with your current orders, but exactly how much inventory you need to build to satisfy future demand. It can also help you plan for raw material shortages and other potential problems that might affect the continuity of your production schedule. An MRP or ERP solution built for small and midsize businesses can give you all these functionalities in one system while integrating with top layer services that handle your e-commerce sales, accounting, reporting, and more.