5 ideas how to implement a manufacturing software system successfully in a small business

Practical tips which will help you to avoid implementation mistakes.

We have already discussed some popular mistakes made while implementing manufacturing software system as well as common fears many company owners face when they decide to introduce changes in their small business.

Below there are some insights on how to make the whole process smooth and successful. These tips are based on years of experience in consulting, different software implementations as well as optimization of processes. We have been working with numerous clients who successfully implemented Prodio’s manufacturing software system leaving behind their expensive and sophisticated ERP systems. Here is  the list:

1. Start to implement a manufacturing software system

It might  seem to be an obvious thing, but if you saw the statistics you would be shocked to realize that so many companies get stuck even before they start using manufacturing software. Endless discussions, analyses and consultations will get you nowhere. Majority of failures result from not taking action. Start using some kind of manufacturing software at your production instead of planning forever and doing things on paper, in theory. With manufacturing software such as Prodio, where you can easily set up a computer at the production hall and prepare the first production order in less than 15 minutes it is possible. Once you start using the system you can adjust things and make necessary changes. There might be something in the discussion phase which seems hard but in practice with manufacturing software system it will be easy. Even the larger companies considering the purchase of an ERP manufacturing system should start from sharing Google docs at the production hall or system such as Prodio, to know exactly what they need. When at the later stage they opt for a more complicated system their needs are precise (they often say: “we need something like Prodio with additional functions and extra integrations). 

2. Keep it as simple as possible

There are many manufacturing companies where all the scheduling is in the form of a paper notebook. Suddenly they decide to implement a manufacturing software system and wish to have all integrations possible: inventory, orders, accounting, advanced statistics and analyses. It is a sure way to a massive failure because it is too big of a milestone. Imagine that you have just taken up running and after one week signed up for a marathon. The best way to do it is to make baby steps: one computer at the production hall, simple product (without separate operations, machines or shifts). It is enough to have at first three or four operations in the system for people to use the computer and register production. Slowly your workers will get familiar with the manufacturing system and then you will be able to add more details. If you do everything at once you will be overwhelmed with the amount of data to be put into the system. The staff might also protest and panic when confronted with many new tasks and technical details. It won’t make any sense. The point is for the team to start using a manufacturing software system and learn its functions step by step in a friendly way. It is important that your workers understand that manufacturing software system can be really easy and helpful and then when they get used to working with such system you can add more elements and functions.

3. Manufacturing software system – don’t start a revolution

If you are after changes in  your small business don’t try to force them by employing a new manufacturing software system. Many company owners decide to kick start some major changes and reorganize the whole business using manufacturing software as a trigger for the whole process. They wish to alter the old ways of data collection, order registration, all production procedures. This approach won’t work, because it is very difficult to work on two independent projects simultaneously. As a result there are too many changing ideas on how the production should be organized and the new manufacturing software system fails to catch up with them. People become more and more confused and stressed and the prospect of working with a new program is daunting. Everybody feels discouraged even before they start using the system. It is better to take your old cork board with a production schedule or the notebook where the orders are noted and try to translate these simple processes into your new manufacturing software. Let the data become digitized, so you can see all correlations in your computer. Try planning things online and then when your database is ready you can start to think about improvements and more advanced options.

4. Find the right balance

When you introduce a manufacturing software system it is tempting to start collecting all data possible. Especially when you picture the old paper orders and notebook or handwritten scribbles. Many clients want to collect all information possible: every screw used,  splash of paint, a minute of overtime, etc. If you do that you are on the right track to implementation failure. Why?

  1. If you are not used to analysing and collecting information, because you haven’t used any software system before, you are in for a big surprise: a “gigantic” excel file will be for sure overwhelming. Your initial reaction: “I don’t understand a thing”. It is much better to limit the number of things monitored, so the reports become clear: to make a product there were 3 operations with a total time of 14hrs. This is something you can compare with your calculation (it is supposed to take 10hrs). The conclusion is simple: the technology might be wrong.
  2. When you wish to collect a huge amount of data it is a time-consuming process for your workers as they would have to check in/out, click, etc. all the time. Their reaction is not hard to predict. They will either feel that too much time is wasted on monitoring and registering, leaving them with not enough hours to do the job, or that a new manufacturing software system is introduced as a sophisticated form of slavery. The owner can’t be trusting them if he wishes for such extensive control. Naturally they will try to boycott the implementation.

5. Don’t be lured by amazing features


There are software producers which promise a pie in the sky: a manufacturing software system will integrate different modules: inventory, accounting, scheduling, orders, etc. don’t be lured by such promises. Unfortunately the majority of ERP systems offered for small companies are extensive, large solutions with massive accounting and inventory modules, but only peripheral production scheduling features. It won’t work in a small manufacturing business. On the contrary Prodio is typically dedicated to managing production and shows you exactly which orders are due and what is being produced. The large ERP systems are more for keeping track of each element used for producing goods, to account for inventory, calculate cost, monitor thousands of unimportant details. The production model is added as an extra feature, to attract small business, but it is not what they are looking for. When you implement such a sophisticated erp system, you will end up working as an accountant in your company for at least a few months. You will have to adjust your business to the system, not the opposite. When you finally start to register production there will be so many limitations (resulting from the accounting and inventory requirements), that you will feel tired just looking at it, not to mention the lack of flexibility and ability to adjust to rapidly changing conditions.

Prodio offers you an alternative: you can start to plan your production straight away and later make decisions about which data is worth exporting to external accounting programs. 

Remember that first and foremost there is no time like today and if you want to implement a new manufacturing software system it is better to start from something simple. Hours spent on consultations and listening to “good advisors” will stop you from implementing a great solution. It is better to start doing something, introduce a simple solution and then if the need arises, search for more advanced options. But try today, not tomorrow.


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