Tag Archives: software vendor

The Most Critical Factor in a Successful MES Implementation

After more than 18 years of offering shop floor software solutions to manufacturers, we’ve gained insight into one surprising factor that can lead a project to success or failure.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

When implementing a paperless manufacturing system, selecting the right vendor can be more important than the right system. Illustration by www.colourbox.com

When implementing a paperless manufacturing system, selecting the right vendor can be more important than the right system. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

I was once asked to name the one factor that would make a difference in the success or failure of an MES or paperless manufacturing implementation. I pushed to think outside of the box, but first considered many of the standard, and legitimate, factors that contribute to project success such as…

… an honest evaluation of your shop floor processes. This is vitally important. Without input from the users of a system and a vision of how it will support production, you can be left with a system that hinders more than supports operations.

… a focused list of requirements. There are projects doomed from the start by a requirement list numbering in the hundreds, even thousands, and many of those “requirements” offering little ROI. The price ends up ballooning as the project team focuses on items that add little to overall project success.

… product functionality. Functionality will define the software, but let’s be honest; comparing functionality lists isn’t a critical requirement for a project. Given enough time and resources, a software vendor can add any functionality you need. I’d rather have an adaptable system that supports my production than one that has more buttons on each screen, leading me to features I may never use.

… cost. An over-priced product that doesn’t aid production or offer a reasonable ROI will doom a project, and you do need a clear picture of the ROI before implementation begins. But, if you’ve determined your ROI on the project, and the schedule is acceptable, the project should pay for itself, or you go find another vendor.

There are a number of other factors I considered, but the more I thought about it, the more one factor kept coming up. It’s not one many companies think about, but it ultimately leads to success more than any other factor…

Trust.

The Trust Factor in your Manufacturing Solution

I know, it sounds silly. Even writing it, I’m reminded of the phrases you might find in an online dating form. “Seeking SO to build trust and for long walks on the beach…” BLAH!

But, consider these factors when evaluating how much priority to give “trust” when selecting a vendor:

  • Cost.

Many software vendors are reluctant to offer a “price not to exceed” guarantee on an estimate, because they rely on service charges to pad the final bill. They plan to add service charges for necessary work not included in the initial estimate. Yes, there are vendors out there giving the rest of us a bad name. Find a software vendor you can trust to give you an honest estimate.

  • Culture.

Shop floor software is as much a cultural solution as a technological one. Consider this – you can have the best software in the world, but if your workers aren’t using it to improve production, it becomes shelfware. Try to cram a solution on someone and they’ll find a way to ignore it. You need a vendor willing to work with your shop floor as well as the front office and management, helping to guide employees to a new way of working. Trust is going to be a vital tool for a successful vendor.

  • Processes.

The functionality of the software is only one piece of a complex puzzle that is a shop floor system. The functions need to manage and support the manufacturing processes. In the past, when MES and paperless manufacturing systems were only available to the largest manufacturing companies, software was built custom so process fit was (hopefully) given. Today, with the availability of modern, off-the-shelf solutions, you need a vendor who will work with you to map the existing functionality of the software to your processes, and partner with you to configure the system to meet your specialized needs. They have to understand your processes to offer the best, most cost effective solution possible. The only way to be sure they are working with your best interests at heart is through trust.

  • Total Cost of Ownership.

The first bill you receive for your shop floor system is only part of the overall cost of the software. Most solutions are designed to be a long-term solution, so there will be recurring costs, adding to the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). You want a vendor that isn’t going to sell you software, install it and then leave. You want one that will work as a partner, helping to ensure the software remains an effective and efficient tool for production over the life of the installation. Do they offer an upgrade path? Will upgrading the software be cost effective, or will it be cost prohibitive? Are you going to be relying on a help desk to solve problems, or will you have a knowledgeable resource available when you need them?


As I thought about the critical factors in project success, I kept coming back to trust. Purchasing an MES isn’t like purchasing a vacuum or even an app for your phone. It’s an investment not only in money, but time and company resources. The system should provide a long-term solution, not just short term relief. It should grow with you and your company, providing a foundation for growth and increased production.

You need to evaluate the purchase of a shop floor solution differently. Consider factors other than just cost, or a list of functionality. Done properly, you are purchasing more than just code on a server (somewhere) but a manufacturing partner willing to provide a tool for your shop floor for many years to come. This is why CIMx works so hard to earn the trust of our customers. We understand how critical trust is in an implementation. From the beginning, our goal is to offer a long-term solution to our customers. Building trust guides our every interaction with a customer. We see every implementation as the beginning of a partnership.

If you aren’t sure you can trust your vendor, then you are presenting your project team with a challenge they may never overcome. Want to learn more, or see how CIMx can help you solve manufacturing challenges, then contact us today,

Insider Tips for Avoiding High-Cost Service Charges

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Software companies know upgrades are necessary for your manufacturing solution.  They may even be budgeting for your high-cost service fees. Don’t get fooled – learn the truth here.

Face it, manufacturing is a constantly changing industry.  New processes, new technology, and new products mean the shop floor is adapting and adjusting.  A work flow that succeeds one week may be in need of an update the next.

So, as you plan the installation of a new MES or paperless manufacturing solution, consider how you will adjust and adapt as your manufacturing needs change.  Ask yourself – is your software vendor planning to upgrade?  How they will ensure the solution continues to stay relevant?  Is an upgrade an additional fee or a standard offering?

Do they even have an upgrade plan?  If not, what will it mean to you?

Understanding the Upgrade Plan

Any OTS (Off-The-Shelf) solution will offer core functionality.  This is the foundation of the software system.  No matter how innovative or powerful the core functionality might be, it will begin to lose usefulness and relevance.

Selecting software that can be easily and inexpensively upgraded can be a strategic advantage for production.  Illustration by www.colourbox.com

Selecting software that can be easily and inexpensively upgraded can be a strategic advantage for production. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

10 years ago, few were considering “mobile manufacturing” solutions.  Now, mobility is a core function for most MES systems, either through an app or built-in functionality.  10 years ago, shop floor data collection was a simpler task, and now business analytics demands more information at a quicker pace.  Government and international regulations are constantly changing, and older systems struggle to keep pace.

An upgrade from a software vendor keeps the core functionality relevant.  It keeps the software up-to-date on industry needs.  Often, it addresses issues in the industry before they have an impact on your shop floor.  An upgrade is an important tool for avoiding software obsolescence.

Simply put, an upgrade plan may have a minimal impact on your initial ROI or decision to implement one system over another, but it could be significant factor in the overall Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).  Companies that don’t upgrade risk software that becomes dusty, fading into a legacy system that impedes growth and production.

Finding the Best Upgrade Plan for You

Don’t fool yourself – software vendors know there is the opportunity for additional revenue in basic upgrades.  In fact, many vendors calculate the revenue of upgrades into their planning.  Save yourself surprise service charges as your software ages by asking the vendor a few simple questions:

  1. Do you currently have an upgrade plan for your software? If so, how often do you offer new releases?  If they don’t have a plan for software upgrades, then you are likely purchasing custom software, or software from a company that won’t support the solution.  Regular software releases show the vendor keeps the software relevant.
  2. What is the cost of an upgrade or patch for your software? Can the upgrade be completed with internal IT resources, or will it require a service charge?  What is the cost for vendor services?  Ask these questions to get a better idea of what the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of the software will be.  Many vendors plan on reaping the benefits of expensive service charges by offering software for a lower initial cost.  Don’t be fooled.  Look for vendors that offer free upgrades as part of the license fee.  Ask how they will charge for any services you might need.
  3. How do you plan for software upgrades? There are vendors out there that install software and then leave, letting the initial product age and decay into obsolescence.  It takes resources and effort to keep software relevant.  Ask the vendor what they are doing to keep their solution relevant.  Look for vendors that partner with their customers on planning upgrades.

Consider the Future

Many companies select a shop floor software solution, such as an MES or paperless manufacturing, with a specific goal in mind such as increased quality, paperless shop floor plans, or real-time production tracking.  Focusing on a single problem will ensure an early ROI, but without considering the future of the solution, you may be left with software that loses relevance over time.

Before making a final selection, step back and consider the future of the shop floor.  Look at other areas you can improve production with the system, and how future costs may impact your business and the solution.  Make sure you have a solution that will grow and adapt with your business, and not hold you back in the future.

Want to learn more, or see how you might benefit with manufacturing software, then give us a call or leave us a message for a no-cost evaluation of your manufacturing operations.