Best Software for Small Manufacturers for 2017

accounting software

In the past, manufacturing almost always involved a large operation, complete with hundreds of employees and at least one warehouse filled with equipment. Thanks to technology, though, today’s business owners can launch a manufacturing operation with a few pieces of hardware, a handful of employees, and a small budget.

The key to succeeding as a small manufacturer is investing in the right software. This roundup will help small businesses identify the best platforms to help launch a full-scale manufacturing operation.

Cloud CRM

A manufacturer will only be successful if businesses sign on as customers. Reaching out to businesses that need manufacturing work is an integral part of growing your client base. A specialized customer relationship management (CRM) tool like Salesforce’s manufacturing module can equip small businesses to compete with much larger corporations as they strive to add more clients. Your sales outreach teams can gather information on each customer and use that data to personalize every interaction. This will also enable you to keep that small business brand personality even once you’ve grown.

Cloud ERP

Office management applies to manufacturing businesses, too. Small manufacturers need a way to easily manage resources, from the people and equipment that put their products together to the income and expenses that keep them going. A manufacturing-geared enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution like Rootstock is a good option for small businesses. Rootstock specializes in serving small to midsize manufacturers with solutions for sales and purchase orders, inventory, material planning, production engineering, and more.

Shop Management

If job tracking is your biggest challenge, shop management software can help. JobBOSS puts all of a business’s product information in a centralized database, accessible by all employees. If a customer calls with questions about the progress of a specific product, workers can pull that information up and give up-to-date information on its status.

Asset and Inventory Management

It’s important to stay on top of your assets and inventory to ensure you have just the right amount of product available and ready to be shipped out. That’s why it helps to migrate to a barcode system that digitalizes the process for real-time information about what you have and what you need to fill. Wasp Barcode provides an integrated barcode software that also helps you track packages and oversees all your assets, including staff with a time and attendance feature. They also offer hardware that facilitates the barcode software platform for a complete solution.

CAD Design

Product development engineers rely on software to design their products. SOLIDWORKS equips your engineers with the latest 3D technology, providing simulation to put products through a variety of stress tests before investing time and money into a prototype. This cloud prototyping software also includes design storage capabilities to allow you to repurpose designs for future products, as well as helping you easily locate archived designs for research and client pitches.

Accounting

Any business needs an accounting solution for its back office. However, standard accounting packages often fail to address the unique needs of manufacturing businesses. MISys Manufacturing integrates with popular accounting tools to help you improve efficiency and reduce errors. MISys also integrates with SOLIDWORKS for those businesses that provide product design engineering services. MISys will help you monitor your inventory, tracking product levels even when items are spread across multiple locations.

Material Requirements Planning

Manufacturing businesses need specialized resource planning software, which introduces the need for a material requirements planning (MRP) solution. In advance of any project, you can use this intelligence to determine exactly the amount of resources you’ll need. This means instead of putting in rush orders for materials you need to complete a project, you’ll have everything you need on hand in advance. XTuple is open-source software that combines a business’s manufacturing and distribution processes to create an all-in-one solution.

Workplace Safety

Manufacturing businesses of all sizes face safety risks. In addition to the personal concerns about worker safety, failure to create a safe environment also impacts a business’s bottom line. One injury can lead to personnel shortages that slow down operations, while also putting you at risk of a costly lawsuit. Intelex helps you put safety measures in place, giving you a place to record any incidents and safety measures you’re taking. This data will be invaluable if you someday find yourself dealing with a workers’ compensation claim.

Warehousing

Storing products is often part of a manufacturer’s duty, even if it’s only for a short timeframe. IQMS offers a warehouse management system (WMS) that keeps the shipping and receiving process as efficient as possible. Instead of products lingering on shelves for prolonged time periods, you’ll be able to get each item in transit quickly so that they can make money for your clients.

Product Logistics

Once products are complete, manufacturers need to get them to the storage warehouses and retail shelves where they’ll be sold. If your business is responsible for coordinating all of this, you’ll need logistics software to help you oversee your products at each stage of their lifecycle. Infor helps you manage storage, ordering, and purchasing processes to help you keep everything flowing smoothly.

The right software can help even the smallest business provide services on a budget. For manufacturers, solutions that are geared specifically toward the needs of manufacturers can provide just the support necessary to produce and manage products. With an appropriate suite of software in place, small manufacturers can compete for business on a global level, landing a client base that helps them grow.

This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.

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