3 Manufacturing Software Development Challenges That Are Costing You Money

May 23, 2023

Manufacturing has always been a complex and ever-changing industry, but you’ve had a few particularly tough years. The supply chain challenges exposed during the pandemic would have been plenty, but you’re also facing:

  • Inflation-related cost increases for raw materials and logistics, which puts more pressure on your margins
  • Changing customer expectations, which means what worked in the past could now be causing frustration
  • Digital transformation within the industry, including new technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the Internet of Things

How software addresses the economic pressure manufacturers face

Software development can help manufacturers achieve multiple goals – especially those related to efficiency or Six Sigma and Lean principles. Imagine having:

  • A user-friendly eCommerce site that improves the customer’s workflow
  • An internal website that keeps documentation or resources at the user’s fingertips
  • A private portal that delivers a unique offering to your best customers
  • An application that integrates the workflow of your vendors or logistics partners

These solutions all facilitate human processes and create better experiences. But they’re also complex pieces of software that will likely require an outside partner. We see manufacturers face three challenges that drive up their software development costs.

Challenge #1: Finding the right software development partner

There are many different software development companies, and choosing the right one for your needs can be difficult. Here are some of your primary considerations:

Managing complexity: Look for a partner with not only experience in the manufacturing industry but also a proven track record of success. Manufacturing software solutions are often complex and interconnected, making them a more challenging assignment than in other industries.

Driving realistic innovation: Without an internal software development team, staying up-to-date on the latest technology and trends can be hard. An outside partner should be able to offer ideas on what’s possible but temper those possibilities with what will work for your company.

Scoping the effort: Ensure your partner has the resources and capabilities to meet your needs. When you go too big in scope, seeing a return on your investment can take longer. Moving too fast can destabilize or put the customer experience at risk.

Navigating your reality: Look for a partner that helps you make the best choices given your budget. Just because you need to increase efficiency doesn’t mean you have Capex dollars to invest.

Challenge #2: Managing the software development process

Software development can be complex and time-consuming, requiring strong project management and technical skills.

Navigating tradeoffs: Most manufacturers need to choose between custom or commodity solutions. The right partner can help you navigate the tradeoffs and help you stay focused on your most pressing needs.

Moving quickly: Understanding the project scope and developing a realistic timeline is essential. In the past, longer time horizons were the norm. Today, an 18-to-24-month timeline won’t cut it – you need to solve your challenges quickly.

Bringing the experience together: Look for full-stack developers so the front-end and back-end of your software experience work together seamlessly.

Managing change: Make sure vendors have a clear process for managing changes throughout the project and ensuring the project stays on track.

At fjorge, we use our clearly defined process and the Agile methodology to break our work into distinct phases. That means you’ll have complete clarity from the outset and multiple check-in points throughout development. It also means you can move fast and see impact sooner.

Challenge #3: Integrating the new software into your operations

Once your new software is developed, you must manage the disruption of integrating it into your existing operations.

Planning for complexity: Manufacturers can have complex, siloed, or legacy systems that vendors must be able to prepare for and navigate.

Gaining buy-in: Ensure the vendor is skilled at getting buy-in from key stakeholders (e.g., employees, managers, and customers) so that everyone is on board ahead of time.

Testing in production: Ask about how the vendor tests software before the implementation. Testing in production can help identify potential problems and ensure the software is good to go.

Providing support: Once you implement new software, you’ll want to support end users. Does the vendor’s engagement include ensuring your team is trained and knows how to use the software?

Offering managed services: Ask whether the vendor provides post-implementation managed services. For example, fjorge offers managed services with various plan levels to fit your needs and budget. Our plans can include hosting, maintenance, enhancements, and even site security.

Ready to overcome your manufacturing software development challenges?

Software development can be a valuable asset for manufacturers. Manufacturers can improve their efficiency, quality, and profitability by overcoming the challenges of finding the right partner, managing the development process, and integrating the new software.

If you’re a manufacturer and need help with software development, we’d welcome the chance to introduce ourselves.

We’re fjorge – a different kind of software development company. We’re 100% focused on every user experience, starting with yours. We collaborate to deliver custom web-based solutions that build brands, blow minds, and drive sales.

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