Again, somebody is requesting manufacturing management software appropriate for small manufacturers. Below is a typical request:
I have been running my line for nearly 2 years and things have been growing exponentially and it’s been hard to keep on top of things, like tracking inventory, sales, invoicing, working out what I need to restock and when, purchase orders, payroll etc…My rep in LA said there was some kind of program specifically for the apparel industry. There are so many out there – is there one you’d recommend?
This kind of software is what’s known as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), PDM (Product Data or Development Management), MRP (Material Requirements or Resource Planning) and lately, PLM (Product Lifecycle Management). When I ran this request the first time in August 2005, commentors responded with Net Suite ($99 per month), Tukatech ($5,000) and Quickbooks ($399). A resource for the big players in apparel manufacturing software is Apparel Magazine; they’re big on software (register for the free guide download). This morning I was re-reviewing Quickbooks (which seems to be of the least utility apparel-wise) looking at screenshots and I got totally depressed looking at their accounting system because it’s Sloan-esque and seems to revolve around managing waste. So I asked Bill who’s big on lean manufacturing and lean accounting and he recommended Access Your Biz ($995). I downloaded the demo (registration required) but haven’t tried it out yet.
Oh, before I go any further, I have bad news for Mac users. Few -if any- programs run on Macs. Way back when I first got into computing, I made the decision to go with PCs because I couldn’t find any apparel specific software that ran on a Mac. Unfortunately, if you use a Mac, you will probably find yourself in the same boat. I realize that as designers you may like Macs better but when it comes to cross platform functionality, you may have to switch. As is often the case, you can’t use a platform that melds with your personal preference. Rather, you’ll have to adopt the platform common to your industry.
I don’t have any fast answers since I’m in the process of evaluating demos and will be updating this post but this is a fast pass of what you need beyond basic accounting functions. You can use the list below to weigh software packages. This list came from Tukatech’s website and reflects the most needed (but not all) elements of their package. Personally, I’m not familiar with their product and can’t weigh in either way but I have a demo disk on the way (the overview brochure is here).
PDM Product Development Management Brochure (pdf) Cost is $5,000 for the 1st user
* Workflow and Event Tracking
* Bill of Material (BOM)
* Construction and Assembly Details
* Report Generation
* Measurement Specs
* Revision History
ERP Enterprise Resource Planning Brochure (pdf) Cost of add-on module, $2,000
* Inventory Control
* Manufacturing Orders
* Cut Orders
* Purchase Orders
* Material Allocation
* Sales Analysis