Integrated software is a collection of program applications that are incorporated to work closely together, offering various features and functionality to the user. Businesses gain several advantages in using integrated software applications such as improved employee productivity, real-time monitoring of tasks and data, lower overhead and resource costs, enhanced customer support, as well as user-driven innovation. All these benefits are geared towards achieving the goals of the business, paving the way for its longevity and growth. Below are some of these integrated software solutions.
- Material Requirements Planning (MRP)
First up on the list of integrated software solutions that businesses, particularly small manufacturing companies leverage on is MRP. It is an inventory management system that helps a business in terms of the estimation of raw material quantities, as well as in the scheduling of their activities. With an MRP, a business will be able to address the raw materials and component parts that are needed, their quantity, as well as the timeline on when they are necessary. An MRP software greatly aids small manufacturers in staying organized through accurate planning and reporting. An MRP can completely transform the operational procedures of a business, allowing for scalability and growth.
- Basic Processes
An entire MRP system can execute three basic processes which include identifying the quantity requirements, running the calculations, as well as completing the orders. The input accepted by an MRP system includes the orders, the bill of materials, the master production schedule, the forecast, as well as the inventory. The output that a business can expect from the system includes purchase orders, material plans, work orders, as well as reports. There are various calculations that can be performed in the system such as dynamic lot sizing, silver-meal heuristic, as well as a least-unit-cost heuristic to name a few.
In choosing the right MRP package, it is important to consider features that provide the business with a certain level of flexibility. It should allow the enterprise to adjust quantities or levels in the middle of the project as needed if demands suddenly increase or decrease. It should also allow the manufacturer to add products as soon as the requirements change. Another thing that a business needs to think about in choosing an MRP system is how the features of the package will fit into the current organizational culture.
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
An ERP can bring together a number of business processes that are necessary to seamlessly run their companies. These processes may include planning, inventory purchases, sales, marketing, finance, and human resources to name a few. The advancements in modern technology revolutionized ERP systems such that in this modern day and age, there are ERP solutions that are web-based applications, which can be accessed remotely.
One of the newest technology trends is mobile ERP that allows both executives and employees to have real-time access to the information they need to run the business, anytime they need to, anywhere they are. Another ERP trend is cloud ERP that offers a larger storage solution which is important as the business continues to scale. Social media packages have also been included in ERP systems, paving the way for social ERP.
ERP systems generally provide an integrated system with a common database. It also supports real-time operation for various applications and components. More often than not, it has a common user interface that is intuitive and easy to navigate. The reporting feature of an ERP is synchronized, such that the business no longer needs to maintain a separate spreadsheet or database to collate the data needed to generate accurate reports.
There are numerous benefits of using an ERP system for your business apart from offering an avenue for growth. With the right ERP system, your business can realize significant cost savings, as well as an improved return on investment (ROI). The synchronized reporting can definitely aid in making more informed decisions and the automated core business operations can mitigate and reduce risks brought about by manual tasks. An ERP system can also enhance collaboration because it can break down communication barriers that can result in optimized customer and partner management.
- Choosing the Right ERP
To ensure that you use the right ERP package for your business, layout your system requirements, as well as your company goals. The ERP system you are considering should be aligned with these. Verify whether the system can be integrated or is compatible with your existing business processes and systems. Another factor that you should carefully evaluate is whether the integrated software solution offers ample support after installation and roll out, as well as training options for the users. With a proper assessment, the perfect ERP system suitable for their business can be acquired by an organization.
- Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES)
MES ensures efficient manufacturing operations to generate an optimum production output. This is done through detailed tracking and gathering of real-time manufacturing data throughout the complete production cycle. Aside from data collection and acquisition, some of the other core functions of MES include scheduling, staff and resource management, process management, performance analysis, as well as document management. MES has evolved over the years, beginning from merely a data collection tool into a state of the art and innovative software that is appropriate in this modern time.
MES ensures that the right raw materials are available on the production floor at the right time through its product and part tracking and genealogy feature. The system is able to monitor the parts the moment these are issued from the stock, as they move into the shop floor until they are used in assembly and the products are delivered to the customer. MES also features process execution management to ensure that the correct workflows are followed. This includes process routings, work instructions, progress tracking, production control, as well as production jobs dispatch. Resource management is another feature of MES wherein a planning table is made available, together with a tool and resource management (TRM).
The planning table contains a periodic view of the master plan, while the TRM determines the production tools available and which are compatible with the machines used in production. Other features of MES pave the way for quality through an in-process verification, as well as human resources, which manages all the people involved in the operations.
The major advantage that a manufacturing business can get from MES is on-time delivery of maximum output generated from the production floor. This increases the revenue of a business, which can open doors to its growth. The business is also guaranteed that only quality products reach the customers because of the real-time monitoring. Other benefits of MES include an optimized manufacturing time, reduced risk of data entry errors, elimination of paperwork, as well as an improved planning process.
- Office Suite
An office suite is a collection of software applications that are geared to support productivity. More often than not, the package includes text editing software, a spreadsheet, as well as a presentation module at the very least. Other packages even include email and databases. Depending on the needs of your business, you may be able to find multi-platform office suites, as well as office suites dedicated to certain operating systems. There are also lightweight office suites that are intended to be used on mobile devices.
The best office suite packages feature a great balance between speed and power. Web-based suites, often have an intuitive interface that allows for concurrent and simultaneous revisions from multiple users. This brings about not only productivity but collaboration among team members as well. There are also office suite packages with advanced presentation features that allow users to create dynamic proposals. Others provide more powerful data analysis features that integrate even advanced formulas and charts.
An office suite can help a business grow because it provides an avenue for an enterprise to keep track and analyze business data through a spreadsheet. Business proposals and presentations can be completed through the test editing and presentation software that comes with the package. The applications are often easy to use and most packages offer ample support for their users.
- Data Warehouse
A data warehouse is a central repository used to store the business data that are collected from various sources. The input data can be structured, semi-structured, or unstructured. The information stored can be transformed and processed to yield a meaningful report that can be used for business analysis, as a basis for making important decisions. A data warehouse is sometimes referred to as a decision support system, executive information system, management information system, business intelligence solution, as well as for the analytic application.
There are three main types of data warehouse solutions, namely an enterprise data warehouse, an operational data store, and a data mart. The enterprise data warehouse is centralized, which means that it can connect and provide support across the entire organization. In this case, the format or structure of the data is unified after processing. On the other hand, an operational data store, or ODS can be refreshed in real-time, such that it is the best option when it comes to processing routine tasks. Lastly, a data mart is specifically designed to suit the needs of a particular line of business such as sales or finance.
The four components of a data warehouse include a load manager, a warehouse manager, a query manager, as well as end-user access tools. The load manager is the front component that is involved in the extraction and loading of the data into the warehouse. The warehouse manager is responsible for the operations involved in the warehouse, including the transformation and processing of data. The query manager is the back end component that performs all operations related to the management of user queries. End-user access tools can be designed for data reporting, querying, application development, as well as data mining.
A data warehouse solution can pave the way for the decision-makers in the business to rapidly access critical data from various sources. The information is guaranteed consistent, even through cross-functional activities. As a result, the turnaround time for analysis and reporting is significantly reduced. A data warehouse solution is also capable of storing an immense amount of historical data that can aid users in analyzing various time frames and trends as a basis of future predictions.
- Cloud Computing
Cloud computing encompasses various services such as applications, storage, and processing power which all take place over the internet. Basically, any service that can be delivered through the cloud can be considered as part of cloud computing. This integrated software can definitely support a business as it grows to scale.
There are several cloud computing models, but the three main ones include Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). IaaS refers to the physical or virtual servers which can primarily be used for storage and networking. PaaS includes the tools and software that developers need to build meaningful applications, while SaaS includes the delivered applications.
There are numerous benefits in using cloud computing services and the greatest one is the cost-efficiency brought about by not having to purchase any hardware or computing infrastructure. The provider of the cloud computing services will most likely be responsible for the servers, application, or operating system updates, as well as the decommissioning of out-of-date software. As a result, a business can complete projects faster and test out its innovative ideas without having to shell out hefty upfront costs. However, it is important for a business to intricately scrutinize their business goals and assess whether the use of cloud computing services is suitable for their case.
Some of the integrated software solutions that you can use for your business include MRP and ERP systems, as well as industrial management software applications. There are also the office suite and data warehousing solutions, as well as cloud computing services that you can leverage in scaling your business. Integrated software will allow you and your staff to perform at an optimal level and have a complete view of your business in real-time.