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ERP for Manufacturers: 12 Essential Features

Discover the 12 essential features of ERP systems for Manufacturers and how Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central empowers seamless operations and growth.

A manufacturer using an ERP on a laptop in front of production equipment.

In today's competitive manufacturing landscape, staying ahead requires more than just efficient production processes; it demands a comprehensive understanding of your business's intricacies and the tools to navigate them seamlessly. From inventory management to production planning, supply chain optimization to financial management, we'll explore how an ERP system helps empower manufacturers, like you, to streamline operations, drive growth, and stay agile in an ever-evolving market.

Why ERPs are Essential for Manufacturers

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems play a vital role in the success of manufacturing operations by providing comprehensive tools to streamline processes, optimize resources, and enhance decision-making. For manufacturers, ERPs like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central offer centralized platforms that integrate various functions such as inventory management, production planning, supply chain management, and financials.

These systems enable real-time visibility into all aspects of the business, facilitating efficient resource allocation, timely decision-making, and improved collaboration across departments. Additionally, ERPs ensure compliance with industry regulations, enhance quality control measures, and enable scalability to accommodate growth. Ultimately, ERPs empower manufacturers to achieve operational excellence, deliver high-quality products, and maintain a competitive edge in the market.

For more on the benefits of ERPs for manufacturers check out Why Manufacturing Companies Should Implement Cloud ERP Software.

12 Essential ERP Features for Manufacturers

When it comes to manufacturing, selecting the right ERP system is paramount to achieving operational efficiency and staying ahead in a competitive industry. In order to do this, you need to first understand the essential features that a robust ERP solution offers. To help you get started, we’ve put together 12 key features that make an ERP, like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, indispensable for manufacturers.

1. Inventory Management

Inventory management stands as a cornerstone feature of any ERP system, equipping manufacturers with the tools needed to efficiently track, monitor, and optimize your inventory levels. With Business Central, features include:

  • Real-time Tracking: Business Central provides real-time insights into inventory levels, allowing manufacturers to monitor stock movements and anticipate demand fluctuations.

  • Inventory Optimization: Leveraging sophisticated algorithms, the system optimizes inventory levels to strike the right balance between meeting demand and minimizing carrying costs.

  • Batch and Lot Tracking: With batch and lot tracking capabilities, manufacturers can trace the movement of specific batches or lots throughout the production and distribution process, enhancing product traceability and quality control measures.

For more on inventory management for manufacturers, check out Key Inventory Management Strategies to Optimize Your Operations

2. Production Planning and Control

In manufacturing, effective production planning and control are essential for optimizing resources, meeting production deadlines, and ensuring product quality. ERPs, like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, offer robust features to streamline production processes, such as:

  • Capacity Planning: Business Central enables manufacturers to efficiently allocate resources by providing insights into available capacities, allowing for better scheduling and resource utilization.

  • Bill of Materials (BOM) Management: ERP systems facilitate accurate BOM management, ensuring that the correct components are available for production. Manufacturers can easily create, update, and maintain BOMs, streamlining the production process and minimizing errors.

  • Work Order Management: With Business Central, manufacturers can create and manage work orders seamlessly. From assigning tasks to tracking progress, the system provides visibility into the status of each work order, enabling manufacturers to meet production deadlines and deliver products on time.

3. Supply Chain Management

Supply chain management is a critical aspect of manufacturing operations, influencing everything from procurement to distribution. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central offers a number of essential features to streamline supply chain processes, enhance collaboration with suppliers, and optimize inventory levels, including:

  • Supplier Relationship Management: ERPs, like Business Central, provide tools for managing supplier relationships effectively, from vendor selection to performance evaluation. By fostering collaboration and communication with suppliers, manufacturers can ensure a steady supply of quality materials.

  • Procurement Automation: The ERP system automates procurement processes, from purchase requisition to invoice reconciliation, streamlining the purchasing cycle and reducing manual errors. Automated workflows help accelerate the procurement process, ensuring timely delivery of materials.

  • Demand Forecasting: Business Central incorporates demand forecasting capabilities to help manufacturers anticipate customer demand and plan production accordingly. By analyzing historical data and market trends, Business Central helps you make informed decisions about inventory levels and production schedules, minimizing stockouts and excess inventory.

For more on supply chain management for manufacturers, check out:

4. Financial Management

Financial management is essential for manufacturing businesses to maintain financial health, adhere to regulatory requirements, and make informed strategic decisions. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central offers robust financial management features tailored to the needs of manufacturers, such as:

  • Cost Accounting: Business Central provides comprehensive cost accounting capabilities, allowing manufacturers to track and analyze costs associated with production, labor, materials, and overhead. By gaining insights into cost structures, manufacturers can optimize profitability and make informed pricing decisions.

  • Budgeting and Forecasting: The system facilitates budgeting and forecasting processes, enabling manufacturers to set financial targets, allocate resources effectively, and monitor performance against goals. With accurate forecasts, manufacturers can anticipate future financial needs and plan accordingly.

  • Compliance and Reporting: Business Central helps manufacturers comply with regulatory requirements by providing tools for financial reporting, tax compliance, and audit trail management. The system generates financial statements, such as income statements and balance sheets, ensuring transparency and accuracy in financial reporting.

5. Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS)

In the complex landscape of manufacturing, efficient production planning and scheduling are paramount to meeting customer demand while optimizing resource utilization. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central offers APS functionalities tailored to the needs of manufacturers:


  • Capacity Planning: Business Central provides robust capacity planning tools that allow manufacturers to optimize resource allocation based on production demands. By accurately assessing available capacities and constraints, manufacturers can ensure optimal utilization of equipment and labor resources.

  • Production Scheduling: The system enables manufacturers to create detailed production schedules that take into account various factors such as production lead times, resource availability, and order priorities. With flexible scheduling algorithms, manufacturers can optimize production sequences to minimize idle time and maximize throughput.

  • Real-time Visibility: Business Central offers real-time visibility into production schedules and shop floor activities, allowing manufacturers to monitor progress and respond quickly to changes or disruptions. With up-to-date information on production status, manufacturers can make informed decisions and proactively address bottlenecks or delays.

6. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

In the competitive landscape of manufacturing, building and maintaining strong relationships with customers is essential for long-term success. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central offers comprehensive CRM features tailored to the unique needs of manufacturers, including:

  • Sales Order Management: Business Central facilitates efficient sales order management, allowing manufacturers to process orders quickly and accurately. From order entry to fulfillment, the system streamlines the entire order management process, ensuring timely delivery and customer satisfaction.

  • Customer Service Management: The system provides tools for managing customer inquiries, complaints, and service requests effectively. With centralized customer service capabilities, manufacturers can track and resolve issues promptly, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

  • Customer Insights and Analytics: Business Central offers powerful analytics and reporting tools that provide valuable insights into customer behavior, preferences, and buying patterns. By analyzing customer data, manufacturers can identify trends, anticipate needs, and tailor their offerings to meet customer expectations effectively.

Get access to our free manufacturing industry webinar, Streamlining Manufacturing Processes: Addressing Pain Points for Efficiency & Compliance on demand.

Click here to access the webinar: Streamlining Manufacturing Processes: Addressing Pain Points for Efficiency & Compliance ​on demand

7. Integration Capabilities

Integration is key for streamlining operations and maximizing the efficiency of manufacturing processes. As a part of Microsoft's Dynamics 365 suite of products, Business Central offers a wide range of integration capabilities that enable seamless communication between various systems and applications, ensuring data consistency and accuracy across the organization. The main types of integration are:

  • Integration with Other Microsoft Tools: Business Central seamlessly integrates with a suite of Microsoft tools, including Office 365, Outlook, and Power BI. This integration enables manufacturers to leverage familiar applications for enhanced productivity and collaboration, with data flowing seamlessly between systems.

  • Third-Party Integration Options: Beyond Microsoft's ecosystem, Business Central offers extensive third-party integration options. Whether it's connecting with CRM systems, e-commerce platforms, or specialized manufacturing software, manufacturers can easily integrate Business Central with the tools and systems they rely on to streamline operations and improve efficiency.

  • API Accessibility and Custom Development: Business Central provides robust API accessibility and development tools, allowing manufacturers to create custom integrations tailored to the unique needs of their industry and production process. With APIs, you can build seamless connections between Business Central and external systems, enabling data exchange and automation of processes to drive operational efficiency and agility.

8. Resource Management

Efficient resource management is fundamental to the success of manufacturing operations, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central offers comprehensive tools to optimize resources across various aspects of the business, such as:

  • Resource Planning: Business Central provides advanced resource planning capabilities that allow manufacturers to effectively allocate and schedule resources such as labor, equipment, and materials. By analyzing demand forecasts and production schedules, manufacturers can ensure optimal resource utilization while minimizing idle time and bottlenecks.

  • Workforce Management: The system facilitates workforce management by enabling manufacturers to track employee schedules, assign tasks, and monitor productivity in real-time. With features such as time tracking and labor cost analysis, manufacturers can optimize workforce deployment and ensure compliance with labor regulations.

  • Asset Management: Business Central offers powerful asset management functionalities that allow manufacturers to track and maintain manufacturing equipment and facilities efficiently. From preventive maintenance scheduling to asset lifecycle management, manufacturers can minimize downtime, extend asset lifespan, and maximize ROI.

9. Quality Management

Maintaining high standards of quality is paramount in manufacturing, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central provides robust quality management features to ensure product consistency, meet regulatory requirements, and enhance customer satisfaction. Quality management features include:


  • Inspection Management: Business Central offers comprehensive inspection management capabilities, allowing manufacturers to define inspection criteria, schedule inspections, and record inspection results. By systematically inspecting materials and products at various stages of the production process, manufacturers can identify and address quality issues proactively.

  • Non-Conformance Management: The system facilitates non-conformance management by enabling manufacturers to track and document deviations from quality standards. With built-in workflows for handling non-conforming materials or products, manufacturers can initiate corrective actions promptly to prevent recurrence and maintain quality consistency.

  • Quality Control and Assurance: Business Central incorporates quality control and assurance processes into manufacturing operations, ensuring that products meet predefined quality specifications and regulatory requirements. By implementing quality checkpoints, conducting audits, and analyzing quality data, manufacturers can continuously improve processes and deliver products that meet or exceed customer expectations.

10. Regulatory Compliance

Compliance with industry regulations and standards is a critical aspect of manufacturing operations, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central offers a powerful suite of features to help manufacturers ensure adherence to regulatory requirements, such as:


  • Compliance Features: Business Central provides built-in compliance features designed to help manufacturers meet industry regulations and standards. From financial reporting requirements to product safety regulations, the system offers tools and functionalities to facilitate compliance across various areas of the business.

  • Audit Trails and Document Management: The system enables manufacturers to maintain detailed audit trails and documentation to support regulatory compliance efforts. By tracking changes to data and documenting processes, manufacturers can demonstrate compliance during audits and regulatory inspections.

  • Quality Control and Assurance: Business Central incorporates quality control and assurance processes into manufacturing operations, ensuring that products meet predefined quality specifications and regulatory requirements. By implementing quality checkpoints, conducting audits, and analyzing quality data, manufacturers can continuously improve processes and deliver products that meet or exceed customer expectations.

11. Manufacturing Intelligence

In the dynamic landscape of manufacturing, access to actionable insights and data-driven decision-making is essential for optimizing operations and driving business growth. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central offers powerful manufacturing intelligence features that empower manufacturers to gain deeper visibility into manufacturing processes, identify opportunities for improvement, and make informed strategic decisions thanks to:

  • Advanced Analytics and Reporting Tools: Business Central provides advanced analytics and reporting tools that enable manufacturers to analyze key performance indicators (KPIs), track production metrics, and gain insights into operational efficiency. With customizable dashboards and reports, manufacturers can monitor performance in real-time, identify trends, and take proactive measures to optimize processes and resource allocation.

  • Predictive Maintenance Capabilities: The ERP system incorporates predictive maintenance capabilities that leverage machine learning algorithms to anticipate equipment failures and prevent costly downtime. By analyzing data from sensors and equipment monitoring systems, manufacturers can identify maintenance needs in advance, schedule preventive maintenance activities, and minimize disruptions to production.

  • Quality Management and Assurance: Business Central integrates quality management and assurance processes into manufacturing operations, enabling manufacturers to maintain product quality and compliance with standards. By implementing quality control checkpoints, conducting audits, and analyzing quality data, businesses can identify areas for improvement, mitigate quality issues, and enhance customer satisfaction.

12. Scalability and Flexibility

In the ever-evolving landscape of manufacturing, the ability to scale operations and adapt to changing business needs is crucial for staying competitive and driving growth. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central offers robust scalability and flexibility features that empower manufacturers to expand their operations, accommodate increasing demand, and respond effectively to market dynamics.


  • Handling Growth: Business Central provides scalable solutions that can grow with the business, allowing manufacturers to easily add new users, expand functionalities, and support increasing transaction volumes. Whether scaling up production capacity or entering new markets, the system offers the flexibility to accommodate growth without disrupting existing operations.

  • Customization Options: The ERP system offers extensive customization options that enable manufacturers to tailor Business Central to their specific requirements and workflows. From custom fields and forms to personalized dashboards and reports, manufacturers can adapt Business Central to meet their unique needs and industry-specific challenges.

  • Cloud vs. On-Premise Considerations: Business Central offers both cloud-based and on-premise deployment options, providing businesses with the flexibility to choose the deployment model that best suits their preferences and requirements. Whether opting for the scalability and accessibility of the cloud or the control and security of on-premise deployment, manufacturers can leverage Business Central to drive business success.


Get the Right ERP Solution for Your Manufacturing Business by Partnering with Kwixand Solutions

Our dedicated team specializes in tailoring Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central to fit seamlessly with your manufacturing processes, ensuring efficiency and growth. Explore our industry-specific manufacturing pages to see how we can elevate your operations in the RV & Trailer, Metal & Steel, Animal & Food Processing, and adjacent manufacturing industries. Take the first step towards transformation by signing up for a free 1-day ERP assessment. Let's embark on this journey together to empower your business for success.

Click here for a free 1-day ERP assessment for manufacturers considering Dynamics 365 Business Central.


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