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Manufacturing in the Americas has become a project-driven business, according to executives participating in a study conducted for IFS North America and scheduled for release in May, and this carries serious implications for business software like enterprise resource planning (ERP).
Gone are the days when the North American manufacturing sector could be characterized by long, repetitive production runs of identical consumer products. Today, rapidly advancing technology and competition from abroad are contributing to shorter product lifecycles, which means manufacturers must devote more of their resources to engineering and design projects. Other manufacturers are focusing on project-intensive industries like capital machinery, infrastructure projects and engineer, procure, construct (EPC) contracting, and are just as project-oriented in their business models as construction contractors.
Survey respondents characterized themselves as being heavily dependent on projects in order to run their businesses, with a full 77 percent of manufacturers placing themselves in categories that would suggest that project management was critical to the day-to-day operation of their business. Another 18 percent said that improved project management processes could help them with critical processes like product launches. Only 5 percent said that projects were not important to them.
The survey data suggests that manufacturers will be increasingly reliant on a new type of ERP software, project-based solutions (PBS). PBS is designed to help manufacturers gain real-time visibility and control of projects they are running, and allows them to manage their entire business more like a project.
"The survey data certainly suggests that manufacturers need to invest in PBS so that they can remain competitive in an economy that is characterized not by predictability and repetition, but by rapid change," IFS North America president and CEO Cindy Jaudon said. "The data also tell us that among these manufacturers, which range from middle market companies to those with billions of dollars in revenue, that there is a generally low level of sophistication in the ability to integrate projects with the rest of the enterprise and with existing ERP software."
The study, conducted by a third-party research firm, will be released and made available at www.ifsworld.com/us this month. For more information, or to request a copy in advance, contact Chuck Rathmann at 262-317-7419.
IFS is a public company founded in 1983 that develops, supplies, and implements IFS Applications, a component-based extended ERP suite built on SOA technology. IFS focuses on agile businesses where any of four core processes are strategic: service & asset management, manufacturing, supply chain and projects. The company has 2,000 customers and is present in more than 50 countries with 2,700 employees in total.