We have been using EVO-ERP (and/or it's predecessor, DBA) since 2000.
We primarily make "moulding" (including flooring). And we sell both our actual moulding as well as flooring in many different ways with various added services.
The features of EVO are mostly fitting with our needs, but there are just ongoing problems and I am at the point again of looking for other solutions. We did this exercise about 10 years ago, spent a BOAT-load of money and hundreds of hours on a new system and then never implemented it because of one feature that is absolutely essential to our business that didn't function the way they said it did. They wanted another $25k to add it and we dropped the project.
We are looking for a full featured ERP system that is designed to handle both make to order and make to stock, and can handle all the intricacies of working with wood (notably BF, SF, LF and variable yield). It should be able to handle multiple BOMs and Routings as we often change what/how we buy stock based on how busy we are, what our suppliers have available, or price.
I know most ERP systems make a big deal about scheduling, but that is probably the least important aspect for us and I don't know that we would even use it.
We just need what I would call The Basics - one system that can handle an order from the quote/estimate through purchasing materials as necessary, invoicing, accounting/GL and all the sub-parts that go along with each of those.
One of the sticking points I have run across (and it was the feature that tripped us up last time) is the ability to process credit card payments through the system, including being able to save CC info for our many repeat customers. While we are mostly B2B, most of our customers are M&Ps and pay by credit card. Dollar wise it's only maybe 20% of our business, but transaction wise it's at least 80%. There is simply no way we will revert to getting credit card info from the customer each and every time we make a sale - the time needed to do that would kill us, and from a customer perspective I know that I hate it when that happens to me.
Anyone have an ERP system they are simply thrilled with? Or one that you strongly advise staying away from?
How do you ensure you have materials on hand for upcoming jobs?
How do you determine if you made money on a particular job?
How do you convey instructions and bills of materials to the shop floor?
How do you keep track, on an ongoing weekly/monthly basis, the financial performance of the company?
How do you keep track of sales orders, purchase orders, work orders, accounts payable and receivable, and enable anyone that needs access to that information to get it as needed?
We are not a large company - 7 production employees and 5 admin/sales. But I cannot imagine operating at our current level without an ERP. We had Peachtree 20 years ago, and made it work, but it was clunky. It felt like using a jointer to straighten boards instead of a ripsaw, or a shaper to make fully profiled window casing (yeah, we used to do that too).
The big problem in the Store Fixture industry back then was there were so many options, colors ,configuration that when companies got to the product configurator side is was extremely time consuming and difficult.
That was a good seminar.
Some time around 2005 a major store fixture MFG took over an account we used to service. There was a roll around condiment cart with applied panels. All in rift oak, pretty simple to build. They had us do them as it took them 14 weeks to produce a one off like that based on the time it took to build in their ERP system.
Molding and flooring with a defined product line would be much simpler to build and add options.
We have worked for other store fixture mfg that have ERP systems working. I think it might of become easier than it was 16-17 years ago.
Still the custom configuration part is the time issue if you use ERP for BOM in a make to order environment.
Have you looked into lean systems instead? It seems to me that if Toyota can run a multi-billion dollar production facility making a product that contains 70,000 parts with a Kanban system using index cards, you don't really need a fancy software program to tell you what boards to send through the moulder.
I forgot to mention that for your credit card processing and order entry you should consider an ecommerce store front. Too many wood product companies have website that are blogs/informational only. By having your site set up an an e-commerce system you can easily make sales.
The two most popular and easy to work with are Shopify or BigCommerce. We use BigCommerce because they allow a lot more product options than Shopify, and if you partner with their CC processor the rates are lower.
Kanban won't work for our manufacturing. The advantage Toyota has is that they have very limited options. Yes, a huge variety of final products based on those options, but for instance you can't order Burgundy Kangaroo leather interior no matter how much you pay or how long you're willing to wait.
While a good part of our production is from a discrete list of materials, there are lots of raw materials that we purchase as needed for orders in house. For instance 6/4 Cherry. I may have a little bit left from the last time we had a job for it, but I am not going to maintain 500-1,000-10,000 BF, as I just don't use it often enough.
We do use an index card system for supplies and some of our secondary products, so I am familiar with the process and can see it working very well in certain circumstances. However I don't believe our primary manufacturing is one of them. Even with the secondary products, we mostly don't use it. We are talking about natural wood moulding, and we make it into custom sized frames to order. It's not like a box of bolts, where each one is that same and you can put 2 boxes on the shelf and order/pull another when the first one get emptied. We often will pull all the material in the bay out to find the right 2-3 pieces we need to make the order, and then put the rest back. We can't even make level lines that trigger an order when below a certain stacked volume, as everything is sorted by length and depending what lengths you have you can have vastly different total quantities, and/or a "hill and valley" effect that makes determining a level difficult, and some items are in 2-3 bins because of needed volume. Besides that, because many of our mouldings are similar enough to be grouped into "families" that save setup time, with ERP we are able to look at all items in each family, check current levels, determine stocking level on-the-fly based on usage, and print out a report of how much to make of each one. Manually trying to do that could take hours per week. One more - a customer just called and wanted to know if we had something in stock. With an ERP system I was able to tell them within seconds on the call, rather than having someone physically check and then call them back.
I like the idea of using online for CC and letting someone else deal with the PCI etc. But I don't see shutting off our in-house processing. While most of our customers do have email now, many are not comfortable using the internet. We get most of our orders by phone, then fax, and lastly a combination of email and/or our online ordering system. I would be afraid that forcing our customers to use the internet to place and pay for orders would cause a general revolt. If we were getting all orders via the internet I'd want them to be ported directly into whatever I was using to create orders and do invoicing.
BTW, I do have and use Quickbooks for 4 other low-volume-transaction companies that we run, so I'm familiar with it, and can't see using it to run this business.
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