When to move to an ERP and when to consider a CMMS

Published on December 29, 2022

Companies with many moving parts will inevitably struggle to keep a close-enough eye on all of them without some extra help. That is when an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution is a necessary tool. That oversight problem can be made even greater if some of those operations are off-site. When that happens a CMMS will also need to be part of your operations.

This is where Shepherd is ready to help with a solution that makes offsite management easy, intuitive and, above all, accurate in real time. Shepherd’s CMMS has the added benefit of being native to an ERP of global standing: NetSuite. This blog post looks at why leaving the move to an ERP/CMMS too late is best avoided and when the best time for that investment is for you.

Most make it in time

The good news for most companies is that they apply sufficient planning and forethought to moving their operations to an ERP (and CMMS where applicable). This can still mean months, if not years. Even those who planned well in advance often wish they’d done so sooner, such are the gains of having an ERP and CMMS in place. However, such a change is a sizeable investment. So, when is the right time? Where is the balance between diverting from profits and giving your company a tool that allows growth and efficiency to flourish?

One blunt reality is this: to stay competitive and profitable you will simply need to make this change or suffer the consequences of operations prone to waste, mistakes and crises. While an ERP/CMMS investment will help make you money in the longer term, continually putting out fires due to poor management and oversight will not. The experiences of Shepherd’s founder may help you recognise that sweet spot before you reach it.

What are the trends?

For most companies, one of two things can happen: Growth is incremental and therefore you don’t notice how that initial accounting solution or excel spreadsheet is slowly left behind by the needs of your growing operations. Or it’s a case of rapid growth so hectic that every new change feels like a crisis to be managed, leaving no time for planning ahead.

In both cases, the need for an ERP comes around and implementation will mean one thing. You’ll need, at the very least, a minimum viable product (MVP). This provides bare essentials needed to replace and cover the operations previously managed with multiple solutions. These multiple solutions are perfect for mistakes and complications: a missed step or program failure can lead to disaster. In some cases, companies still use software that is not cloud-based, and depend on a hosted computer. Having multiple software applications or relying on a hosted computer are both an indication of a business being ripe for software maturity and a single ERP/CMMS integration.

Challenges remain

Big changes mean you will have hurdles to overcome, be it resistance to change amongst the staff or problems with existing data. Nonetheless, the gains are undeniable. All processes run through a single system where the exchange of data between departments is simply a case of automated functions. This is the biggest advantage of an ERP. A CMMS like Shepherd’s extends that ability beyond internal operations to include what happens in field service or rental for example. A native solution like Shepherd’s in NetSuite means that this extension is even easier to set-up and immunized against communication failures between the systems.

The obvious result of this new set-up is efficiency: the same results of less work, more results for the same efforts, or both. What’s not to like? Add to that more reliable data and easier access through cloud-based systems. Even some unusual events such as external audits or reviews will already be easier now that all the requisite information is far simpler to collate, extract and present.

Nonetheless, opting for an ERP/CMMS solution means companies will need to have certain aspects of their business organised: the system can only automate what it is given to work with. Accounting is usually given plenty of attention but, if a company can’t adequately explain how it works, how can it hope to program its new ERP to execute its processes for them. They need to be clear and standardized.

So, is a CMMS for you?

If a company operates in field, maintenance or rental management, making a CMMS like Shepherd’s part of that MVP is a very smart move. There will be many aspects to consider, many internal processes to clarify and so the added headache of integrating an external system can only add to the difficulties, making a native solution the wisest choice. Not to mention never again needing to reintegrate features every time a non-native solution has an update.

To know if you are a CMMS candidate, Shepherd offers simple questions to be asked internally to guide a company. The first is does company already have a means of monitoring field activity, such as time usage and material usage? Another is does the current system speak to your existing ERP or accounting package? A “no” to those two points alone should be reason enough to consider a fully-fledged CMMS.

If what you have read sounds familiar and you are conscious of the need to streamline your processes and to plug holes in your efficiencies, maybe it’s time to ask for a demo from Shepherd and give your field operations the best possible advantage over your competitors.

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