The below blog post was produced for AMBA Expert Insights: An Industry Blog, which features technical expertise and content provided by AMBA's Premier Partners.

Considerations When Evaluating Scheduling Software Solutions

By Amanda Mielke, marketing director, TST Software

Mold manufacturers looking to select and implement a new scheduling system in their shops (or replace an outdated one they have in place) have a critical decision to make right off the bat: is the better decision to go with a large generic ‘ERP’ solution that provides the “one-size-fits-all” type functionality, or a more industry-specific solution that provides the functionality that meets a company’s unique set of standards (especially the ability to have shop floor scheduling)?

The first step is to understand how systems vary and what should be considered when shopping for and implementing a system with shop floor scheduling. 

Example considerations include:

  • Features & Functions
  • Ease-of-Use
  • Agility / Flexibility
  • Platform / Architecture
  • Speed of Implementation
  • Training & Support 
  • Secure Data Storage, on-site or in the cloud
  • Subscription vs. Lifetime License
  • ROI

Once the decision is made to invest in scheduling software, and the list of what is most and least important has been defined, how should companies investigate which scheduling solution will be the best fit?

During the “shopping” process, companies will need to investigate all the options available - such as cost, functionality and future flexibility - to make an informed decision.

Key Considerations When Shopping for a Scheduling Software

How flexible is the scheduling solution?
Every shop is different and has its own way of doing business. It’s important to evaluate the flexibility of the scheduling software to make sure it will work with internal objectives and processes to avoid downtown. 

Will the scheduling solution grow with the needs of the business?
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to selecting scheduling software, but there are scheduling software solutions that will do a better job of growing with the business. Think about where the business is today and where it’s headed to make sure the scheduling software isn’t a temporary solution.

Does the product undergo development on a regular basis?
Make sure to ask - is the software updated on a regularly basis, so that it performs at optimal speeds on each new OS? Can the software be customized to fit the business’ needs that are “outside the box”? 

What does the implementation process look like?
Implementation of a scheduling software can be a costly investment. If a business owner doesn’t under the whole process of implementation, the software has a greater chance of failing and precious time and resource have been wasted trying to make something work that may not really be the best fit.  Make sure the solution and vendor chosen has an implementation plan in place for the business before the software is launched and that time is carved out for the vendor to provide training to key internal team members. The earlier the scheduling software is adapted, the easier it will be to train future employees. 

Is the quality of support top notch? 
When any question is asked, is a solution provided by the vendor in timely manner? Is call back time to help desk support sufficient enough that a solution is possible the same day? The availability of support and knowledge the vendor brings to the table can make the difference between a successful scheduling software and an unsuccessful one. Any software provider’s goal should be to ensure a successful rollout throughout the shop, answer employee questions in a timely manner and ensure that the partnership between company and vendor is going to be beneficial to each.
Selecting a scheduling solution is a difficult process, but ultimately, these considerations will help business owners determine whether a generic ERP system or an industry-specific shop floor scheduling system is the best fit for their shops. With a careful examination of business processes and accounting and operational functionality, it will be possible to find the best fit for the business that allows it to function successfully, reduce costs and continue its growth trajectory. 

TST Software is offering a free ‘Discovery Consultation’ to all AMBA members. Contact the TST Software team today at 248.922.9293 or to see if our software solutions could be a good fit for your company.