ERP software is experiencing a seismic shift. In the past, customers have gone to market looking for end-to-end monolithic solutions. Why? Because large vendors made their software inaccessible to external parties, rendering it impossible to combine solutions. So, manufacturers have been forced to make trade-offs. 

Large ERP vendors can rarely meet all of a manufacturers requirements and each vendor has unique strengths and weaknesses. ERP installations have therefore become large configuration and customisation projects, as manufacturers are compelled to either reforge the software to their business processes or re-engineer entire processes to fit the software. 

Many are now recognising that these compromises have served them poorly. In uncertain times, optimal business decisions and end-to-end supply chain visibility are essential – yet both remain difficult to come by. There is also a misalignment of decisions both horizontally and vertically.

But manufacturers no longer want to compromise. They need full visibility and the ability to add new cutting-edge product features easily, without the expense. The need a new approach to supply chain planning.

A more integrated approach

With manufacturers demanding more, large vendors are being forced to listen. They need software that is interoperable and can communicate effectively within an ecosystem of solutions and are now moving away from pre-packaged solutions towards a Lego block approach, sourcing best-in-class solutions from different vendors and wiring it together. This evolution of supply chain planning technology is the future of ERP. Gartner calls it composability.

This evolution provides manufacturers with an opportunity to find niche best practice tools to solve specific production planning problems. Those which will stand out will be those that use intelligent automation and work seamlessly within an integration layer, such as a core ERP.

Of course, this approach still carries risks. If these solution do not come together intelligently, companies could still end up with an unsynchronised stack of solutions that create more IT headaches than they solve. However, the ease of synchronising and optimising supply chain planning should be the responsibility of the solution provider, not the manufacturer’s burden.

The right supply chain planning software should make connectivity seamless, using intelligent automation and AI algorithms to integrate disparate and complex systems. For manufacturers the result will be end-to-end visibility and the ability to react quickly and effectively to disruptions. Planning redefined.

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