Back to blog

Guide to Choosing ERP System for Manufacturers - Top 10 Tips

Naama Aharoni  |  September 25, 2023

What to look for when choosing an ERP system for your manufacturing SMB?

In today’s competitive manufacturing environment, Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs) must leverage every available tool to stay ahead. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems have emerged as a critical technology, offering a way to integrate and streamline operations across the manufacturing enterprise. However, choosing the right ERP solution can be complex, fraught with challenges.

This blog post is designed as a step-by-step manual for SMBs in the manufacturing sector, aiming to identify and implement an ERP solution.


The success of any manufacturing enterprise largely depends on its ability to streamline operations, maintain high-quality standards, and react swiftly to market changes. This is where Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems come into play.

An ERP software is a suite of integrated applications that a business can use to collect, store, manage, and interpret data from its various business activities. For manufacturing businesses, an ERP system is particularly crucial. It provides a unified platform that integrates all aspects of the manufacturing process, from procurement of raw materials, inventory management, production planning, and quality control to delivery and after-sales services.

Implementing an ERP system can be a game changer.

SMBs often face unique challenges, including limited resources, tighter budgets, and higher competition. An ERP system can help them overcome these challenges by automating routine tasks, improving operational efficiency, reducing costs, and enabling better decision-making.

However, implementing an ERP system in a manufacturing SMB isn’t without its challenges. The process can be complex, time-consuming, and costly. Without proper planning and strategy, businesses can encounter various obstacles, such as overblown budgets, prolonged downtime, and employee resistance.  Therefore, understanding the fundamentals of ERP systems and their relevance to your SMB is the first critical step in your ERP journey.


When it comes to the ERP selection process for your manufacturing business, not all ERP systems are created equal. Some ERP solutions may be designed for generic business operations, while others may have features specifically tailored for the discrete or process manufacturing industry. As an SMB, it’s crucial to understand the essential features that an ERP system should have to meet your specific needs.

Some of the must-have features in a manufacturing ERP are:

  1. Inventory Management: Managing your raw materials, work-in-progress items, and finished products efficiently is crucial to avoid stockouts or overstocks, reducing waste, and ensure timely customer delivery. The ERP system should provide real-time visibility into your inventory levels and automate the reordering process based on predefined reorder points.
  2. Production Planning and Scheduling: This feature lets you plan your production activities based on current and forecasted demand. It helps manage resources effectively, reduce lead times, and ensure on-time delivery of products.
  3. Quality Control: The system should allow you to monitor the quality of your products throughout the production process, track defects, and implement corrective actions. This not only helps maintain high-quality standards but also ensures compliance with industry regulations.

Other essential features include:

  1. Order Management
  2. Supply Chain Management
  3. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  4. Financial Management

The ERP system should also provide robust reporting and analytics capabilities, offering insightful data to help you make informed business decisions. As you can see, a manufacturing ERP system should have comprehensive features that cater to all aspects of your manufacturing operations. Understanding these features and how they relate to your business operations is critical in choosing the right ERP solution for your SMB.

Now that you understand what a manufacturing ERP is, let’s look at how to close the best one for your manufacturing business.


Before setting out on your ERP selection process, clearly defining your manufacturing business’s specific needs and objectives is vital. This step is critical in ensuring your chosen ERP solution aligns perfectly with your business goals and operational requirements.

    This involves mapping out all your key business processes, including procurement, inventory management, production, quality control, sales, and customer service. Identify areas that are currently facing challenges or inefficiencies. These could be manual tasks prone to errors, processes lacking visibility or control, or areas causing delays or cost overruns.
    This includes department heads, managers, and frontline workers who interact with these processes daily. Their input is invaluable in identifying your business’s real pain points and practical needs. Remember, the ultimate goal of implementing an ERP system is to streamline operations and improve efficiency. Therefore, it’s essential to clearly understand the current situation of those who will be using the system.
    What do you hope to achieve with the new system? This could be improving inventory management, speeding up the production process, reducing wastage, improving product quality, or enhancing customer service. Be as specific as possible with your goals. Instead of simply saying you want to reduce costs, specify which costs you want to cut and by how much.

These objectives will serve as your guiding star throughout the ERP software selection and implementation process. They will help you stay focused on what’s important, evaluate potential solutions effectively, and measure the success of your ERP implementation. After you’ve identified your manufacturing-specific needs and goals, the next step is to consider the financial aspect of ERP implementation.


When we conduct a meeting with businesses that would like to implement an ERP, after understanding their business processes and what is their day to day looks like, the next step is to ask them what their ideal business process is. This question aims to identify the features and functionalities they would like to include for the ERP system, such as business process automation or streamlining certain processes, which they do not have now and would like to include. This is important as it helps you identify the gaps between the current and ideal state, and thus you can determine which of the many ERP systems would be best suited for their business.

Once these criteria are established, you’ll then be able to start searching for an ERP software solution that meets your specific needs. This will help narrow down your options and ensure you find the best ERP software for your business. It is also important to consider other factors, such as vendor pricing structure, user reviews, and customer service support, during your ERP software selection process.


Implementing an ERP system can be a significant investment for a SMB. However, with the right budgeting and planning, it’s an investment that can yield substantial returns in the form of improved efficiency, reduced costs, and enhanced decision-making.

When budgeting for an ERP solution, it’s important to consider both the upfront and long-term costs. Upfront costs include the cost of the software, hardware (if required), implementation services, and initial training. However, these are just the start. There are also ongoing costs to consider, such as software updates, system maintenance, additional training, and potential system customization.

In addition to these financial considerations, also consider the potential return on investment (ROI) that an ERP solution can provide. While it might require a significant upfront investment, the right ERP system can deliver tangible benefits that quickly offset the costs. For example, it can help reduce operational costs, improve productivity, decrease inventory levels, increase sales, and improve customer satisfaction. These benefits can result in substantial cost savings and revenue growth, contributing to a positive ROI.

Another important consideration is financing options. Some ERP vendors offer flexible payment terms or financing options to make their solutions more affordable for SMBs. These can range from monthly subscription fees for cloud-based solutions to financing plans for on-premises systems.

Finally, be realistic and cautious with your budget. ERP implementations can often end up costing more than expected due to unforeseen complications or additional business requirements that arise during the process. Therefore, it’s a good idea to set aside a contingency fund to cover these potential extra costs.


Choosing the right ERP vendor is just as crucial in the ERP selection process. The vendor you choose will provide the system and play a significant role in its implementation and ongoing support. Hence, carefully analyzing vendor viability ensures you get the best value for your money.

Look at a vendor’s track record and reputation carefully, consider their customer service, and research their past projects to get an idea of their capabilities. Consider speaking with other customers about their experiences as well. The insights they provide can help you better understand what to expect from the vendor and guide your decision-making.

    Start your vendor evaluation by shortlisting vendors who offer ERP systems specifically designed for the manufacturing industry and cater to SMBs. This will ensure that their systems will likely have the features and capabilities you need, and the vendor will understand the unique challenges and requirements of businesses of your size and type.
    Start your vendor evaluation by shortlisting vendors who offer ERP systems specifically designed for the manufacturing industry and cater to SMBs. This will ensure that their systems will likely have the features and capabilities you need, and the vendor will understand the unique challenges and requirements of businesses of your size and type.
    Will they provide ongoing technical support? Do they offer training resources to help your users get the most out of the system? What about system updates and upgrades—are they included, and how are they managed?
    Don’t forget to consider the total cost of ownership (TCO) when comparing vendors. This includes not only the upfront cost of the software but also the costs of implementation, training, support, updates, and maintenance over the life of the system.

Once you’ve evaluated and compared different ERP vendors based on these criteria, you should have a clearer picture of which vendors are likely to be the best fit for your manufacturing SMB.


The usability of an ERP system is a critical factor that can significantly impact its success or failure within your organization. After all, a system can have all the features you need, but if it’s not user-friendly, your team may struggle to use it effectively, leading to resistance, frustration, and diminished productivity.

When assessing an ERP system’s usability, several factors are to consider.

    The system’s user interface (UI) is one of the most important. Is it intuitive and easy to navigate? Does it provide a logical flow from one task to the next? Remember, your team will use this system daily, so a clean, intuitive UI can make a big difference in their productivity and satisfaction.
    How easy will it be for your team to learn how to use the system? Here, training resources provided by the vendor, such as tutorials, guides, and customer support, can play a crucial role. Furthermore, systems that follow established conventions for tasks like data entry and navigation can be easier to learn because they align with users’ existing knowledge and expectations.
    Can it be used on different devices, such as tablets or smartphones? Is it cloud-based, allowing for remote access from any location? This can be particularly important for manufacturing businesses, where workers on the shop floor, managers in the office, and salespeople on the road all need access to the system.


Customization plays a pivotal role in ERP solutions, particularly in the manufacturing sector, where specific needs and workflows often require a unique system setup. While a one-size-fits-all approach might work for some businesses, most SMB manufacturers will need a degree of customization in their ERP system to efficiently meet their unique business requirements.

When evaluating ERP software, it’s important to understand the extent of customization each solution allows. An ERP system should offer enough flexibility to mold to your business processes rather than forcing your business to adapt to the system. This includes customizing fields, forms, workflows, and reports to mirror your operational procedures, industry-specific practices, and data preferences.

One important aspect of customization is the ability to add or remove modules or system functionalities based on your business needs. Most ERP software comes with a suite of modules, such as inventory management, production planning, sales and customer management, and more. However, not all businesses will need all these modules. Being able to select the functionalities that suit your needs helps streamline your system and avoids unnecessary complexity and cost.

Moreover, as your business evolves, the ability to customize the system will enable it to grow with you. Adding new functionalities, tweaking existing processes, or integrating new tools should be possible without significant disruption. However, customization has its trade-offs. While it provides a system closely aligned with your business, it also can increase complexity, cost, and the time required for implementation and upgrades. Heavy customization might also impact system performance and create challenges in system support and upgrades.

Hence, it’s crucial to strike a balance. Prioritize customizations that provide significant benefits and align with your strategic goals. Understand the implications of customization on the total cost of ownership and consider how the system will be maintained and upgraded in the future.


Integration capability is key when considering an ERP solution for your manufacturing business. ERP aims to streamline business processes and enhance visibility across the organization. Achieving this becomes difficult if the ERP system cannot communicate effectively with other software your business uses. Most SMBs use a variety of software solutions for different functions, such as customer relationship management (CRM), human resources (HR), accounting, or specific manufacturing processes. These systems hold vital business data, and seamless connectivity between these systems and your ERP solution is crucial.

A well-integrated ERP system can pull data from these disparate systems, providing a unified, real-time view of your business operations. This ensures all departments work from the same, up-to-date information, reduces the need for manual data transfer between systems, and minimizes the risk of errors and inconsistencies.

When assessing ERP software, consider its ability to integrate with your existing systems. Does the ERP vendor provide prebuilt integrations for common software solutions? If not, do they offer an application programming interface (API) that allows custom integrations to be developed?

Assessing how the ERP system will handle data migration from your existing systems is also important. This is often one of the most complex and time-consuming aspects of ERP implementation. The right ERP vendor should provide comprehensive data migration tools and support to ensure a smooth transition.


For SMB manufacturers, business growth is a primary objective. Therefore, the ERP system you choose today should be able to accommodate your business’s needs tomorrow. Scalability is a critical feature to look for in an ERP solution.

A scalable ERP software can support increased data volumes, more users, and additional modules or features as your business grows. Whether you’re expanding your product line, increasing production capacity, entering new markets, or adding new business units, your ERP software should be able to handle these changes without significant additional investment or disruption to your operations.

When assessing an ERP system’s scalability, consider how easy it is to add new users or modules. Can this be done without substantial downtime or disruption to your operations? Also, consider the system’s performance under increased load. As you add more users and data, will the system continue to perform efficiently, or will you see a decline in speed and responsiveness?

Cloud-based ERP systems often have an advantage in terms of scalability. Because they’re hosted on the vendor’s servers, adding more capacity is usually as simple as adjusting your subscription plan. On the other hand, on-premises systems may require additional server capacity to scale up, which can be more complex and costly.


The security of your business data is paramount, and this is particularly true when implementing an ERP system, which centralizes much of your sensitive business information. A breach of this system could be disastrous, leading to data loss, operational disruption, regulatory penalties, and damage to your business’s reputation. Therefore, it’s vital to ensure that any ERP system you consider has robust security measures in place.

When evaluating an ERP system’s security, consider both its physical and cybersecurity measures. What security measures does the vendor have at their data centers if it’s a cloud-based system? Do they have redundancy measures in place to ensure data is not lost in the event of a hardware failure or disaster? On the cybersecurity front, does the system include features like encryption, intrusion detection, and access controls to protect against unauthorized access?

Compliance is another critical aspect to consider. Manufacturing businesses often have to comply with a range of industry-specific regulations, such as quality standards, safety regulations, and environmental regulations.

Your ERP software can play a crucial role in helping you meet these compliance requirements. It can automate compliance-related tasks, track compliance data, generate required reports, and provide an audit trail demonstrating your compliance efforts.


An ERP system is not a set-it-and-forget-it solution. Once your system is implemented, you’ll need ongoing support and training from your ERP vendor to ensure it continues to meet your needs and deliver value to your business. That’s why it’s critical to consider the post-implementation support offered by ERP vendors when making your ERP system selection process.

Post-implementation support can take many forms. One of the most critical is technical support. This can include troubleshooting, system updates, and assistance with any issues that arise while using the ERP system. When assessing an ERP vendor’s technical support, consider factors like their support hours, response times, and the expertise of their support team.

Training is another crucial aspect of post-implementation support. While initial training is usually provided during the implementation phase, ongoing training may be needed as your team gets more familiar with the system, new features are added, or new employees join your company. Look for vendors that offer comprehensive training resources, such as online tutorials, webinars, documentation, and user forums.

Regular system updates are also an important part of post-implementation support. These updates can provide new features, improve system performance, and fix any bugs or security vulnerabilities. When evaluating an ERP vendor, ask about their update process. How often do they release updates? How are updates installed—is it a manual process, or is it done automatically? Are updates included in the ERP system cost, or do they come at an additional cost?

Another aspect of post-implementation support to consider is account management. Some ERP vendors provide a dedicated account manager who works with you to ensure you’re getting the most out of your ERP system. They can provide advice on best practices, assist with system optimization, and be your advocate within the vendor’s organization.


Having a firm grasp of the ERP implementation process is crucial for a successful rollout. The process can be complex and time-consuming, but with proper understanding and planning, you can mitigate risks and ensure a smoother transition.

  1. Project Kickoff: The project begins with a kickoff meeting involving key stakeholders. This meeting aims to align everyone on the project objectives, timeline, and responsibilities.
  2. Requirement Analysis: This phase involves a detailed analysis of your business processes and requirements. The aim is to understand how the ERP system can best support your operations. This often involves detailed discussions with various department heads to understand their specific needs.
  3. System Design: Based on the requirement analysis, the ERP system is designed. This includes defining the system architecture, customizations, data migration strategies, and any integrations with other systems.
  4. System Configuration and Customization: The ERP system is then configured based on the design. This may include setting up the system parameters, customizing forms and workflows, and setting up user roles and permissions.
  5. Data Migration: This is one of the most critical stages of the implementation process. Existing data must be cleaned, formatted, and transferred to the new ERP system. It’s crucial to validate the data after migration to ensure accuracy.
  6. System Testing: The configured system is rigorously tested to ensure it meets the defined business requirements and operates correctly. This often involves running test cases and resolving any issues that arise.
  7. Training: End users are trained on how to use the new system. This involves hands-on training sessions, developing user manuals, and providing access to online training resources.
  8. Go-Live: Once testing is completed and users are trained, the system is ready to go live. There may be a period of running the old and new systems in parallel to ensure no disruption to business operations.
  9. Post-Implementation Support: After going life, post-implementation support and training is critical to resolve any issues that arise, provide additional training, and assist users in adapting to the new system.
Remember, the implementation process can vary depending on the specific ERP solution and the needs of your business. The key is thorough planning, clear communication, and continual monitoring to ensure the project stays on track.


Implementing a new ERP system is a major undertaking for any organization. It requires careful planning, thorough testing and training, and continual monitoring to ensure the project stays on track.

Successful implementation of an ERP system will bring with it increased efficiency, enhanced customer service, streamlined business operations, and improved performance. With the proper preparation and execution, ERP systems can be a tremendous help to any organization.