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Across the Life Sciences industry, corporations are mandating the use of maintenance and calibration modules in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software such as SAP, Infor ERP, Oracle ERP, and Microsoft Dynamics ERP. In GMP manufacturing, these modules present challenges for technicians and other end users because they often do not meet user requirements, provide limited functionality that deters productivity and compliance gains and are time-consuming and costly to implement.

In our Battling the Mandate blog series, Marcus McNeely and I will be discussing how end users in GMP manufacturing facilities can satisfy corporate executives’ need for an all-inclusive ERP solution while ensuring their own productivity and compliance requirements are met. End users can successfully ward off ERP modules by integrating a best-in-class, purpose-built asset management application with the ERP system. We’ll analyze why integration is a cost effective approach, methods and examples of integration, benefits for end users, and how to pitch an alternative to mandated maintenance and calibration modules to management.

Why are companies mandating maintenance and calibration modules for their ERP software?

In our previous blog series on paperless, mobile, compliance, enterprise EAM, we laid out recent trends in the Life Sciences industry. These trends include an increase in globalization and foreign competition, heightened regulation and significant changes at the FDA and increase in merger and acquisition activity which a creates pressure for companies to be focused on productivity and ROI. With all of these pressures, Life Sciences companies have an intensified need to view KPIs for the entire organization. ERP software serves as a hub of information across departments – which is where the need to use modules arises.

The ERP system concept originated from manufacturing systems (MRP) in which planning is a key element. From there, ERP systems were built to include other departments within a company such as accounting and HR – as seen in the illustration below. With data from all departments within an organization stored in a single ERP system, management is able to easily forecast sales, identify KPIs, evaluate cost centers. When all departments are using the ERP system, data is able to be analyzed at the department level as well as the corporate level with relative ease and in real-time.

ERP Diagram

In order to obtain a complete view of manufacturing, maintenance and calibration data and storeroom data need to be rolled into the ERP application. From a corporate perspective, this can be easily obtained by using ERP modules for maintenance and calibration. However, there is a disconnect for technicians who are maintaining assets in a GMP environment. Many of the modules are not built with compliance in mind. This means that in order to implement them, much time is needed to build in custom workflows and functionality to meet the compliance requirements and to drive the end users’ productivity. The disconnect is generated from executives at the top looking for the simplest way to rollout ERP functionality to all departments – which is through the use of modules. In reality, purchasing a purpose-built EAM/CMMS system for GMPs and integrating with an ERP system achieves the corporate requirements of rolling data into ERP so that it can analyzed and increases end-user productivity. In many cases, integration is a more cost effective approach because it meets the needs of both parties and drives further ROI through increased productivity. Modules may meet the needs of management, but are not built to drive productivity in GMP environments.

In the next blog in this series, we will compare benefits and downsides to using modules for maintenance and calibration compared to a purpose-built EAM/CMMS solution. View the entire Battling the Mandate blog series here.

Read more of our Battling the Mandate blog series:

  1. Successful Solutions for ERP/EAM Interaction
  2. ERP Module v. EAM/CMMS
  3. ERP / EAM Integration Styles
  4. Pitching Integration to Management