Why manufacturing software is better than Excel?

With the rise of IT in our everyday lives comes the dependence on certain tools, to communicate, to assist and to help us with work. In the early days many companies — although slow to adopt — found a piece of software that worked for them, they invested in it and became reliant on it.

I’m not talking about any particular piece of software, just most of which was around in the late nineties and into the millennium. Having been happy with it, they’ve stuck with it; but the comfortable setup could be draining your time and resources. Many small to medium sized businesses fall foul of this error, and they do it with Excel. It became the go-to software for everything related to business management, with many manufacturers suing it as their main manufacturing software solution. Then it worked, now it struggles, but today there are other options.

The reasons for this dependence on such a generic piece of software for complex applications, lie in history. Back in the seventies, SMEs had to use programmes like Excel for their manufacturing software solutions because they were priced out of the market for dedicated software, only big enterprises could reach that deep into their pockets, for both the software itself and the extortionate prices being charged for installation and management. On top of this the extra cost of labour to run and oversee the operation of the systems meant these specific solutions were simply out of reach for most smaller companies.

More recently, progressions in technology have enabled companies to take advantage of cloud based services to overhaul their manufacturing software solutions. The accessibility of the software through the cloud negates the need for expensive servers and the army of staff required to service them, this gives the company a distinct advantage over their competitors still using Excel.

The benefits are plentiful, these new solutions can gather, analyze, combine and present a more sophisticated report.

Here are a few examples of the kind of information the latest manufacturing software solutions can generate:

  • The difference between planned and actual time of the fulfilment of a manufacturing order, or particular operation
  • The delivery accuracy of various suppliers
  • The current status in the manufacturing process of a particular customer order
  • The total job cost of a particular customer order and labour cost per order or period

The biggest issue for small and medium sized companies, is money. Often the management can’t see past the inaccurate notion that using Excel is a money saving option: it isn’t. It’s costing you more than you think, and certainly more than a subscription to a cloud based MRP solution.