Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software encompasses many things. You probably know it can help you run your entire job shop, but what exactly does that mean? In general, ERP software helps your shop operate more efficiently and gives you the data you need to run it better. Specifically, it can help improve your job shop with estimating, orders, purchasing, scheduling, data collection, quality control, shipping, and accounting.
Estimating and quoting are crucial for your job shop to win more jobs. Most customers want to know when you can complete their job and how much it will cost. So, it’s important that both of those things are accurate. However, it’s also important that your shop can get those estimates sent out quickly. Time is money, and customers don’t want to wait for a quote. If your shop can’t get an accurate quote sent out in time, you’ll lose the job.
With ERP software, these estimating and quoting problems become much easier. If you’re quoting for a job you’ve already done, your software can give you that quote, with updated prices for material and labor. You can have a quote ready in a couple of clicks. If it’s a job your shop has never done before, then it’s simple to set up a new quote and still have the accurate price and time estimates. With ERP software, estimating and quoting doesn’t need to be a guessing game.
Once you win a job, you have to get it started in your system. If you’re working manually, you may have to write out most of the quote to turn it into an order. You have to check if you have the right material. If not, you need to figure out when you need to order material so you can get the job done on time. The customer might want different release dates for parts of their order, or they might want the job finished much later. If that’s the case, you have to remember to start that job later. If the customer wants their job released at different dates, you might run the entire job at once, and then store the finished product until they want it shipped out.
Order software in an ERP system makes all of these things easier. An ERP system can automatically turn a quote into an order, and it will calculate when your shop needs to start working on it. If you don’t have the right materials on hand, an ERP system can add them to your next material order, and it will let you know when you need to order the materials to finish the job on time. If your customer wants different release dates for parts of their job, ERP software can automatically tell you when to run parts of that job, so your shop doesn’t have finished jobs taking up space on the shop floor.
Your shop can’t run a job if they don’t have the right materials. No one is happy if you have to wait to run a job until the right materials come in. This process can take even longer if you want to get quotes from multiple vendors, but you have to send each one manually. Even if you do decide on a vendor quickly, if you don’t remember that you’ve had issues with them in the past, your job could still end up being late.
Purchasing software gives you the visibility you need to solve these problems. As part of an ERP system, your purchasing software will automatically know what materials you need for your next jobs, and whether or not your shop needs to order them. It can also automatically send out RFQs to multiple vendors so you can choose the best vendor quickly. If you have problems with a vendor, you can take them off of the list, and you won’t have to deal with them again. With purchasing software, your shop can have the right material from the best vendors to get the job done to your shop’s standards.
Scheduling is the heart of a job shop. Since it is the heart, if things go wrong with scheduling, they go wrong with the shop in general. Does your shop run late on most jobs? Is it hard to know where you need employees to work? Are some employees waiting for work to come to them? Is it hard to know when to start a job so you can finish it by the due date? These are all signs that the scheduling in your shop could be improved.
Scheduling software can help you get all your jobs done on time. Once you enter your jobs, you can push a button and see exactly when each job should run so you can meet your due dates. You can see bottlenecks ahead of time, so you know if you need to move some employees onto certain machines and off of other ones. A virtual planning board makes it easy to test out different schedules. “What if” scheduling means you can check if your shop can accommodate a rush job or not. Unlike with physical whiteboards, “what if” scheduling can be changed with a few clicks, letting you make decisions much more quickly and keep everything moving.
It’s hard to know which jobs are best for your shop if you don’t have numbers behind them. For example, if your folks on the floor have to manually write down what time they start and stop a job, those times might not be accurate. They might wait until the end of the day to write down how long they worked on each job, and then not remember exactly how long each job took. Even if they do write the times down correctly, anyone who looks at those numbers later might have trouble reading them. If you don’t have information about how everything runs, it’s hard to improve your job shop.
Data collection software can give you all the information you need to run your shop. Shop floor employees can scan their badge to log into or out of a job. There’s no more misreading handwriting or waiting until the end of the day to write down their times. Another benefit of data collection software is that you can see in real time where each job is on the shop floor. You don’t have to wait until the end of the day or the end of the week to see how jobs are moving through the shop. Being able to see all of this immediately also means you can fix problems as they’re happening.
Rework takes time away from jobs you want to move through your shop, and it makes your customers unhappy. Both you and your customers want you to send jobs out the door that are exactly what they asked for. If you’re not tracking quality on your jobs, it can be hard to make this happen. And if you’re not tracking your shop’s quality, you can’t improve it.
Quality control software can help your shop manage and improve its quality. The software makes it easy to check and log quality on every job. It also gives you the information you need to improve quality in your shop. You can see where your quality problems are, so you can decide on the best way to fix them. You can cut down on the rework your shop does too. Quality control software also makes it easier for your shop to earn various certifications, including ISO.
Getting a job done before the due date doesn’t help if problems with shipping make it late to the customer anyway. It could also happen that your shop sends out a package on time, but it didn’t have everything that it was supposed to. Even if all of these things go right, if your shop misquoted the price for shipping, you’ll have to pay for more of the shipping cost than you expected.
Shipping software makes all of these problems into things of the past. This software can print out shipping labels, bills of lading, and packing slips automatically. Your shop will never forget to pack something again. In addition, this software also interfaces with all major carriers, so you’ll never have to guess on freight charges. Instead of having to worry about the details, your shop can get finished jobs sent out and move on to the next one.
Accounting is an important part of any shop, but it can be among the most frustrating. You want to know how your shop is doing, but you may have to wait until the end of the month to find out. For some shops, looking up financial information means going through different filing cabinets and comparing the numbers you find. Making a report takes a long time and relies on manual data entry from those various pieces of paper. If your shop uses QuickBooks, then you have access to the accounting information you need, but it might be difficult to put that together with the rest of your shop’s data.
Accounting software can change all of that. As part of an ERP system, this software already has all the numbers it needs to give you a full picture of your shop’s financial health. No more searching through file cabinets. With just a few clicks, you can see your shop’s profit in real time, create a report, or print off checks. E2’s ERP software even connects with QuickBooks, meaning you can keep using QuickBooks, but get the benefit of ERP software to see a full picture of your shop’s health.
Mobile apps make ERP software accessible to the folks on the floor without needing a computer at every station. Instead, employees can use their mobile phone, or a shop tablet, and access anything they need to see. They can clock in and out of work or log in and out of a job from their phone. They can update inventory while standing in the inventory room. And since there are different apps for different needs, employees can download only the apps they need.
There are many parts to keeping a job shop running well. It’s hard to manage all of them manually or in spreadsheets. ERP software makes it easy to put all the information you need in one place and helps you make decisions about how to improve your job shop. While you can run a shop without ERP software, using this software makes many tasks much quicker. Any time that you’re not spending tracking down stray pieces of paper is time you can use to make your shop better. ERP software will help you see exactly how to make that happen.
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