Transforming SME Manufacturing

Transforming SME Manufacturing

The UK’s manufacturing sector has responded well to the challenges of recent years, bouncing back from the ‘brutal’ 10% decline in output in 2020. Investment in staff training, automation, technology, and R&D has created a sector now 9th largest in the world

Yet, too many of the country’s manufacturing SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) still lag behind when it comes to end-to-end automation and technology adoption. Also, there remains a disconnect between business areas that are compromising agility and responsiveness as inflationary pressures and global supply chain disruption take their toll.

Investing in ERP (enterprise resource planning) is the obvious step, providing a single, end-to-end solution that can transform productivity, cost control, and competitive position. But how can SME manufacturers attain ERP quickly, effectively, and at an affordable price point? 

Business Critical Questions

Soaring raw materials prices and global supply chain disruption are creating huge pressures for the manufacturing sector. With 85% of UK manufacturers reporting rising purchase prices, businesses are wrestling with a new set of challenges following the pandemic. However, key questions must now be asked, including:

– What proportion of these additional costs can be passed on to the customer? 

– How will delays in the supply chain affect the production process?

– Will that incur penalties from customers if products arrive after the promised date? 

– How will both delays and price rises affect customer demand? 

Making the Right Decisions with the Right Technology

Traditional business decision-making based on accepted trends in raw materials pricing and customer demand has been thrown into total disarray. Companies cannot rely on last year’s data to make this year’s decisions. But without end-to-end visibility across the entire business, companies are not in a position to make the right decisions at the right time.  

Far too many are operating blind, with a mix of different solutions, in different departments. The only way to join up the business processes and decision-making is to painstakingly feed sales demand into production, replenishment, procurement, and distribution processes. And this is something that few companies have the time or resources to achieve.

Now is the time to make the leap to a single, end-to-end, ERP solution that provides complete, accurate, and real-time visibility of the entire operation. Understandably, SME manufacturers are concerned about the cost and disruption associated with traditional ERP deployment. The initial process of determining the functionality required and the workflows for traditional ERP solutions can be daunting as they are feature-rich and offer many options.

Transforming Competitive Position

With a single ERP solution, a manufacturer can gain immediate control over the entire business process and focus on the core areas. If just-in-time stock management is the priority, purchase decisions can be automatically driven by real-time sales demand. If the goal is to mitigate the risk of spiralling raw materials, combining sales demand with information about materials costs and delivery timescales will enable informed, timely purchasing decisions. 

Despite the investment in training and automation that has improved the productivity of UK manufacturing in recent years, 74% of manufacturing and engineering companies are still relying on ageing legacy systems and spreadsheets to get tasks done.  Yet, with labour shortages and rising staff wages adding to the challenges facing SME manufacturers, the pressure is now on to gain control. This means better information to support vital decisions, more efficient processes, and a way of optimising staff time and satisfaction. ERP is no longer out of reach for businesses of any size. With minimal up-front costs, an Opex rather than Capex investment model, a cloud-based, preconfigured ERP solution provides rapid access to the automation and business information manufacturers require, fast.

Technology is fast-evolving, and as B2B-tech PR professionals, we understand how important it is for businesses to be ahead of the curve and embrace the latest innovations. If your business is making monumental changes in the world of technology, and you want to be heard above the noise, get in touch with us at

Amy Swallow

Account Director