An ERP System is the Backbone of a Manufacturing Company

ERP is such a fundamental part of any business that companies are usually reluctant to make a change. Whether you use a School ERP System in India or for a factory, ERP systems are extremely important for most businesses. In fact, the average manufacturing company operates with an ERP system that has been in place for 10 to 20 years, according to noted manufacturing expert Dave Turbide. Because of these long-term relationships, manufacturers and their ERP providers are as much business partners as they are customer and vendor.

In many industries, companies rely on their ERP system for little more than financials, but manufacturers have a much greater dependence. Manufacturers store the very essence of their business—their product structures and work instructions—in their manufacturing ERP systems. They rely on ERP procedures as the backbone for certifications such as ISO9001, and parts of regulatory certifications such as FDA audits in life sciences center around consistent use of business systems. They customize their ERP solutions to create differentiating business processes that give them a competitive edge in tough markets. ERP systems function as both the conscience and memory of a company, storing the details of every sale and every shop order.

Changing its ERP system means that the company may need to go through an additional—probably unplanned—FDA or other compliance audit. They may need to rewrite and recertify their ISO procedures. They will need to retrain everybody who interacts with the system and spend days or weeks testing and verifying new procedures.

That’s why it’s such a shock when an ERP vendor discontinues a product and forces its customers to make changes they wouldn’t make otherwise. Changing an ERP system is disruptive. It adds to the workloads of the company’s most key people, pulling them away from their day-to-day activities to focus on the project. It affects every business process in every department, from finance to sales to the shop floor. For an ERP vendor to force customers to make a change in their ERP system for its own benefit feels like a betrayal of a trusted relationship.

When the ERP Database Changes, Everything Changes

When an ERP company decides it can no longer devote resources to a product that you’ve been paying maintenance on, it feels like a betrayal. Even though the vendor may say it’s just a change to the underlying technology, you know that isn’t completely true. If both ERP systems had exactly the same functionality engineered in exactly the same way, as they would have you believe, there wouldn’t be an issue continuing to maintain both systems.

They may be saying that conversion is a simple process, but you know it’s never as easy as they say. Think about it.

  • What about all the many years of history stored in your Progress database? Will they convert all that?
  • What about your long-term loyal employees with years of Progress experience and expertise? Does the vendor think you should simply let them go? Or are you just supposed to shoulder the cost of retraining them on a new architecture and data model?
  • How about users? Yes, the business processes are similar, but they are not the same. There will be training required for users.
  • How about your customizations and modifications? Integrations to third party systems? Who takes on that cost?
  • Downtime?
  • Disruptions and risk to your business?
  • Who will take on re-documenting all your procedures for ISO or other compliance certifications?
  • Are you supposed to pay maintenance on two database systems during the upgrade? What about later, when you need to access history? Is that in your budget?
  • What happens the next time it becomes inconvenient for them to maintain your product?

If you are facing a situation where your ERP vendor has declared “end of life” for the product you base your business on, you are standing at an important crossroad. The decision you make now will affect your company now and well into the future. You have to decide which path to choose.

Choose an ERP Vendor That Cares About Its Customer’s Businesses

Do you stay with your existing vendor who has shown no regard for what’s right for your business? Or do you take the opportunity to make a change and go with an ERP vendor that cares as much about its customer’s businesses as it does about its own?

Throughout our 35 years in business, QAD has always shown deep care and concern for its customers.

  • Our post-sale customer engagement model is unique in the industry. For example, in 2014 QAD’s customer engagement team spent more than 5400 days at no charge helping customers achieve their strategic objectives and become more effective enterprises by using our consultative model.
  • In 2015, Consumer Goods Technology Magazine Readers named QAD as the ERP Customer Satisfaction Leader by for the third year in a row.

We design our products for global manufacturers, so you never have to worry about finding weird insurance industry terminology on a screen or having to tab through fields designed for government agencies. Our products are fully functional, yet simple to use and deploy and we offer freedom to customize your software whether you run on premise, in the cloud, or in a blended deployment.

With QAD Cloud ERP, you have the security and control of an on premise system coupled with the convenience and predictability of the cloud. We work with each cloud customer individually to decide on the best time for every upgrade and we handle all the details of that upgrade.

With QAD, you can stick with the tried and true Progress database you know and love. You don’t need to retrain or replace your IT team, and you don’t have to maintain multiple technology skill sets. Your history is safe.

Manufacturing ERP — In the Cloud or On Premise

You get industry leading manufacturing functionality—in fact, 8 out of the top 10 automotive global supply chain leaders use QAD to run their plants.

You get an ERP Partner that cares. We’ll always make sure our roadmap considers our existing customers.

Isn’t that a better future than being taken for a ride by a company that cares more about its business than it does about yours? Choose the right path, see why QAD is the best decision.


  1. Sharon, Really like your opening point about how important ERP is for manufacturers – particularly in the discrete industries. The detailed planning and scheduling of materials so they arrive exactly when and where needed is far from trivial. And, of course, much more is provided for optimal business management and execution. A dramatic change in the technology (like the database) used in a company’s ERP creates business risk that needs mitigation and attention at the highest levels of management.

    • Hi, Ralph. That is so true, yet many search teams groan and leave the room when technology comes up. An ERP system’s technology and architecture determine what it can do in future, so it’s even more important than looking at existing functionality. Not that functionality isn’t important–but you don’t know today what you’re going to need tomorrow. Having an architecture that can flex for future changes and a vendor with a strong track record of protecting its customer’s technology investment should be exactly where management puts its focus.

  2. Really good article. In fact, many people don’t know that there is better alternative to solutions they are currently using. I was working only on dynamics erp and to be honestly, don’t know what could be added to it’s features. Many people thinks that “if ain’t broken don’t fix it”.

    • Exactly, Benny. Some vendors don’t keep up with regulatory changes or new ways of doing business, and it leaves their customers in a bind where they are forced to customize to support requirements– which puts them in even deeper with a vendor that doesn’t care about its customer’s best interests. A vendor’s track record for looking out for its customers should be one of the most important selection criteria, but it rarely is. And thanks for the kind words.

  3. Nice article. I’m not working on ERP but I don’t know what to add to its features. A lot of people think and process that I like your article and if I want to let you know, keep writing good articles so that they can come in handy, I really appreciate your article… keep it up.