Re: Missing the point
Doug (and Charlie), the answers to your questions would take a book to fully explain, not something I can easily pack into this forum comment. I invite both of you to come visit us here in Appleton WI and see for yourself. It's lovely this time of year. :-)
Maybe if I tell you what we make, you'll gain some understanding. This unit uses upcasting to combine copper, zinc and other metals into 50+ different alloys. We then form those castings into different wire sizes with different mechanical properties to meet the specifications of our end customers. Businesses like Duracell (P&G), Eveready, Rayovac in the battery market. We have customers in Cold Heading markets that make everything from zippers to screws. We make wire for auto market, for things like brakes, ignition systems or even to make the welding rods they put cars together with. We send wire to the ordanace market to make civilian ammunition. We make wire for the photovoltaic market to build solar panels with. Our newest venture is to actually do the first phase of ammo cartridge creation, what they call a Cup, and send that to our ammo customers who are capacity constrained on that type of machining. All this is integrated in one system, with support for al the differences of each market/product.
My software supports this business end-to-end. From shop floor to lab to sales to purchasing to technical to accounting. It is integrated with Wonderware PLC data on shop floor, real time browser dashboard on shop floor using Ext JS talking to i5 server RPG at backend. Wonderware pushes data to me on i5, I merge with context data like what item/shop order is running and show if machine is running at speed. Customer documents (RFQ, PO, Sales Order Ack, Sales Invoice, Packing List. B/L, Certificate of Compliance [to cust spec, shows the actual lab tests from shipped material]) can be automatically faxed or emailed (as PDF) to customers/vendors.
I implemented free Sharepoint as intranet to connect office and shop floor. It is integrated with an i5 based Controlled ISO Document system I wrote that controls document revision approval and publish. It integrates with email to make sure office people who need to read that doc in that area get link to read, and have to acknowlege they read it. On shop floor, new ISO docs pertaining to that area are presented to shop floor guys when they log into their production shift, and they have to ack they read it. Published docs are automatically sent to Sharepoint from i5 for access at any time, and coded for what area they pertain to.
One thing Charlie said I just don't get though. The core of ERP is back office, accounting, purchasing, A/P, A/R, and Sales Order processing. How much of that has changed in 30 years, much less 10 years? You still use Chart of Accounts, do 3 way match in A/P to PO's, send invoices to get paid, apply payments to A/R. Sure you see stuff added like multi-lingual, multi-currency, web EDI hooks instead of old school EDI. If you need that, by all means upgrade. If you don't, what the heck exactly are you upgrading for? Because of backwards compatibility, very little actually changes in core ERP. If it did you would have one heck of a lot of furious customers, because there is no business value added to by messing around with back office stuff to get same work done you were doing before.
We aren't talking about cutting bodies here with upgrades, we have one A/P clerk, 3 accountants (including Controller and A/R function), 2 inside sales, 2 in Purchasing, 2 in outside sales, 3 in lab. But we have 6 floor supervisors, 5 (CAD) engineers, 5 process engineers/metallurgists. We operate 3 separate mfg facilities in Appleton area. So we have to be efficient. We don't employ a single person who is a Data Entry clerk. When I started this work in late 90's, we had several.
And we are completely end-to-end integrated. I do not allow Sales to print shipping paperwork unless everything in shipment has complete chemistry/mechanical tests in spec. We implement a complete cast to pack unit level inventory we call the Store. Shop floor guys pick input units from Store, produce output unit into Store. It supports bar coding, although getting them to actually use scan guns is another story. They prefer just to pick from list or key the 4/5 digit bar code number. I wrote a system that tracks our internal scrap processing at the unit level. Both WIP and Scrap unit level are integrated with accounting's book inventory.
I wrote a Physical Inventory system to use at year end which counts (and records weight) the detailed inventory, generates PI tags for units for auditors. We only use paper tags to count raw material like copper cathode we use in casting. Code in that system allows accounts to analyze with Excel as front end and, when ready, roll the count into the new book and detailed inventory. We ship 35 million lbs per year. Since I wrote this system we get a year end pickup in book inventory of about 100,000 lbs, that's how well we track our production and scrap.
And most importantly, we make money (millions) every single year. Even in the depression year of 2008/2009 we broke even with 1/2 of our normal sales volume and not a single layoff in office. We did have to layoff on shop floor, although all that employment has come back. About 80 guys man 3 shifts 24/7.
We are make to order shop, we have tools I wrote that turn sales demand (including forecasts) into capacity plans for both casting and other work centers, complete with lead time offsets. We routinely hit 90-95% on time delivery. Our quality returns are a fraction of pct of monthly shipped lbs.
I could go on and on, but hopefully you get the point. Just because I don't send invoices using Twitter doesn't mean I'm not modern, even though technically I could send i5 msgs to Twitter if I wanted to. Send me link to either on premise or cloud based ERP that does what I described above.
So if you wonder why I'm a little skeptical an off the shelf cloud system can do this and make us better, hopefully you get my position now. And I'm serious, you are welcome to come visit and see for yourself. We are Luvata Appleton, you can find our global Corp parent site on internet. Worst case is you prove me wrong, and that would only make us better. My job isn't dependent on any particular system, I've seen a lot come and go in my career.