10 Software Products to Make Your Small Manufacturing Business More Efficient
Finding the right manufacturing software is key to operating a successful manufacturing business efficiently. With a myriad of software options available, navigating the best choice for managing supply chains, materials, inventory, and job tracking can be overwhelming.
This guide introduces top manufacturing software choices, tailored to meet the diverse needs of small manufacturing businesses.
Dan Taylor, content analyst at business software review and research platform Capterra offered some tips in an email to Small Business Trends, “It’s got to have good financial and inventory management tools. It needs to allow the user to do material requirements planning (MRP) to manage the manufacturing process. It should have a safety management feature. All of these features together provide a holistic manufacturing management solution.”
Our Methodology: How We Chose Software Products to Make Your Small Manufacturing Business More Efficient
For small manufacturing businesses, the right software can significantly enhance efficiency, streamline processes, and improve productivity.
Our methodology for selecting software products for such businesses employs a scale from 1 to 10, focusing on key criteria that are essential for optimizing manufacturing operations.
Higher scores, closer to 10, are given to features that are crucial for small manufacturing businesses, such as integration capabilities, ease of use, and scalability.
Integration with Manufacturing Processes (10/10)
Software that seamlessly integrates with existing manufacturing processes and workflows is given the highest priority.
Ease of Use and User Interface (9/10)
User-friendly software with an intuitive interface is essential to minimize training time and facilitate quick adoption.
Software that can grow with the business, supporting increasing complexity and production demands, is highly valued.
Inventory Management (8/10)
Effective inventory management features, including tracking of raw materials and finished goods, are crucial for maintaining production efficiency.
Affordable software solutions, offering substantial functionality at a reasonable price, are important for small businesses with limited budgets.
Production Planning and Scheduling (7/10)
Tools that aid in efficient production planning and scheduling to maximize throughput and minimize downtime.
Quality Control and Compliance (7/10)
Features that support quality control processes and ensure compliance with industry standards and regulations.
Reporting and Analytics (6/10)
Comprehensive reporting and analytics capabilities for insightful decision-making and continuous improvement.
Customization Options (6/10)
The ability to customize the software to fit specific manufacturing needs and preferences adds significant value.
Customer Support and Training (6/10)
Accessible customer support and training resources are vital for resolving issues and maximizing the software’s utility.
Integration with Other Business Systems (5/10)
Software that can integrate with other business systems, such as accounting and HR, streamlines overall business operations.
Automation Capabilities (5/10)
Automation features that reduce manual tasks and enhance efficiency in manufacturing processes.
Our methodology is designed to guide small manufacturing businesses toward software products that not only enhance operational efficiency but also integrate seamlessly with their existing processes.
By focusing on aspects such as ease of use, scalability, and comprehensive manufacturing functionalities, we aim to identify software solutions that are ideally suited to the unique needs of small manufacturing businesses.
Manufacturing Software Options
While different manufacturers are likely to have different needs in terms of software, here are a few popular options to help you in your search.
E2 Manufacturing System
The first program that Taylor recommends is E2 Manufacturing System. From Shoptech Software, this tool includes a full array of management features, from order and inventory processing to job tracking and shipping.
The company offers a list on its website of the specific types of manufacturing shops that can most benefit from its software, including assembly shops, mold shops and wood shops. You can also request a demo to see if it would be a good fit for your business.
From the well-known German enterprise SAP, this manufacturing suite includes cloud-based and on-premises enterprise resource planning solutions.
There’s one that’s made specifically for small businesses, one for medium sized businesses and an enterprise version. The small business solution offers functions for managing supply chains, purchasing and even accounting.
JobBOSS is another software that Taylor says is especially popular with manufacturers. It’s a customizable solution.
So you can pick and choose the functions that you want included, from the basics like quote processing, inventory control and shipping to optional add-ons like quality control and payroll. The company also offers both cloud and on-premises options and a free demo.
NetSuite Manufacturing Edition
NetSuite Manufacturing Edition includes an integrated platform that includes options for managing inventory, warehouse, finances, orders and customer relationships. A cloud and web based solution, NetSuite helps you manage all of these various functions in real time.
The manufacturing software from TrueERP comes with a wide selection of different modules, including marketing, job costing, training, servicing, shipping and more.
You can create your own processes and resources and take advantage of real-time reporting and payments to manage almost every aspect of your business.
An inventory management and automation tool made specifically for small manufacturers, Fishbowl Manufacturing lets you easily manage inventory and materials. It also offers integrations with many popular business tools, including QuickBooks and Xero.
Priority’s manufacturing software solution offers a comprehensive ERP tool for production management and control. The module is made to support the entire supply chain, from materials to shipping. And it’s made specifically for small and medium sized businesses.
Global Shop Solutions
Global Shop Solutions actually offers a number of different software programs and tools specifically for manufacturers that you can manage from one central dashboard. You can use it for managing inventory, job costing, shop floor display, project management and even your website.
Specifically for machine shop manufacturing businesses, Realtrac offers solutions for shop management, scheduling, purchasing and inventory, accounting and more.
It also boasts a relatively low cost of implementation, though the exact cost varies depending on your company and the solutions you need.
xTuple Manufacturing Edition
xTuple is actually an open source platform for ERP and CRM. The company’s manufacturing option offers modules for products, inventory, orders, scheduling, sales, CRM, purchasing and accounting.
Prices are calculated by which licensing options are needed, depending on the type of modules you need and the number of users you need to access the software.
Comparing Software Products for Small Manufacturing Businesses
To assist small manufacturing business owners in selecting the right software, here’s a comparison table showcasing the key features and specialties of each software product mentioned in the article.
Software NameKey FeaturesBest ForDeployment Options
E2 Manufacturing SystemOrder/inventory processing, job tracking, shippingAssembly, mold, wood shopsDemo available
SAP ERPERP solutions, supply chain, accountingSmall to enterprise-sized businessesCloud-based, On-premises
JobBOSSCustomizable, quote processing, inventory controlFlexible manufacturing needsCloud, On-premises, Demo available
NetSuite Manufacturing EditionInventory, warehouse, finance managementIntegrated platform needsCloud, Web-based
TrueERPMarketing, job costing, real-time reportingComprehensive business managementCustomizable
Fishbowl ManufacturingInventory management, QuickBooks integrationSmall manufacturersIntegration-focused
Priority ManufacturingFull ERP, supply chain to shipping managementSmall to medium-sized businessesComprehensive ERP
Global Shop SolutionsInventory, job costing, project managementVaried manufacturing needsCentralized dashboard
RealtracShop management, scheduling, accountingMachine shop manufacturingLow implementation cost
xTuple Manufacturing EditionERP, CRM, scheduling, salesOpen source ERP and CRM needsLicense-based
Bullet Points: Key Considerations When Choosing Manufacturing Software
When selecting manufacturing software for your business, it’s crucial to find a solution that aligns with your specific needs and enhances operational efficiency. Here are some key factors to consider in your decision-making process:
Specific Industry Needs
Functionality and Features
Customization and Flexibility
Ease of Use and Support
Specific Industry Needs
Each manufacturing sector has unique requirements. It’s important to choose software designed for your specific type of manufacturing process, whether it’s mold shops, assembly lines, textile production, or any other.
This ensures that the software will effectively address the particular challenges and nuances of your industry.
Functionality and Features
Essential features like inventory management, job tracking, production scheduling, and financial management tools are fundamental. The software should facilitate seamless workflow management and provide comprehensive insights into your manufacturing process.
Customization and Flexibility
The ability to customize the software to fit your unique business processes and workflows is crucial. Flexible software can adapt to your evolving business needs and can accommodate specific requirements that might be unique to your operation.
Ensure the software can integrate with the other systems you use, such as accounting software like QuickBooks, CRM systems, or supply chain management tools. Seamless integration can significantly improve data consistency and operational efficiency.
Decide between cloud-based and on-premises software solutions based on your business needs. Cloud-based solutions offer accessibility and lower upfront costs, whereas on-premises solutions provide more control over the data and might be necessary for specific regulatory compliance.
Ease of Use and Support
A user-friendly interface can greatly reduce the learning curve and increase adoption among your staff. Additionally, reliable customer support is critical for resolving issues quickly and ensuring minimal disruption to your operations.
Finally, consider the cost of the software in relation to the features and benefits it offers. Assess the pricing structure, including any recurring costs for updates or support, to ensure it fits within your budget and provides a good return on investment.
While these are some of the most popular software solutions on the market that can be helpful especially for small manufacturers, Taylor stresses that there is no single solution that’s right for everyone.
You have to be willing to try out different options to find the best features and capabilities that work for your specific business, either through a trial period or at least a demo. He says, “You never know if software is right for you until you’ve tried it. Fortunately, most software developers have a free trial option.”
By thoroughly evaluating these factors, you can choose a manufacturing software that not only meets your current needs but also supports your business as it grows and evolves.
Photo via Shutterstock
This article, “10 Software Products to Make Your Small Manufacturing Business More Efficient” was first published on Small Business Trends