Cloud ERP Solutions and the Evolution of Manufacturing Technology

A deep dive into the intricacies of the quote-to-cash process and its relation to ERP systems.

Every manufacturing enterprise is familiar with the journey from quotation to revenue. However, as market dynamics shift, this journey changes. The good news is this: manufacturing tech has changed, too. 

We may live in an increasingly specialized and complex supply chain environment, but modern cloud-based ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems ease the complexities of the quote-to-cash cycle. The evolution of manufacturing systems such as cloud ERP solutions give shops the automated tools, organization, and simple access that enhance productivity and boost your competitive edge.

Adopting cloud ERP systems streamlines the quote-to-cash journey by offering a unified platform to oversee customer engagements, production, and financial matters. It compiles, structures, and presents real-time information at each phase, allowing you to track a project's progress, its current status, upcoming steps, and its anticipated delivery time.

‍Let's dive into the intricacies of the quote-to-cash process and its relation to today’s cutting-edge cloud ERP solutions.

Router & BOM Estimation

In the realm of production, few activities hold as much significance formulating a router and bill of materials (BOM). A precise, structured router pinpoints all necessary materials for a task, their designated locations, and their timelines. 

This is where an ERP Sales module equipped with a robust Estimation tool comes into play. It facilitates the creation of customer quotations, encompassing all pertinent expenses and specifics, highlighting profit margins, and laying the groundwork for job estimation.

The ERP Estimation tool champions two pivotal attributes: swiftness and precision. 

Swiftness: Through this software, you can monitor your genuine expenses in real-time, devise detailed routers and BOMs, and swiftly generate quotes rooted in reliable data. Moreover, ERP accelerates the transition of jobs to the production floor by seamlessly converting potential leads into actual customers and formulating sales orders upon successful quotations. It promptly revises estimates in light of fluctuating material prices and effortlessly quotes recurring orders using pre-existing ERP data. Furthermore, it offers quotes that align with both customer expectations and business profitability.

Precision: BOMs hold equal weight in this initial phase. The roster of both manufactured and raw materials essential for construction and assembly must be meticulously logged onto the router. This also includes the necessary machinery and tools for part fabrication. Any discrepancies in this data can ripple through the entire production cycle, from material procurement to the final product assembly. The convenient and easily-shared BOM capabilities of cloud-based ERP solutions guarantee both data precision and team alignment for the router through features like:

  • Seamless import/export of customer and CAD BOMs
  • Real-time inventory status and cost aggregation of all BOM components
  • Straightforward identification of BOM additions, deletions, or alterations
  • Comprehensive parts list overview
  • Maintenance of a condensed parts master list
  • Streamlined handling of engineering modifications
  • Convenient comparison of engineering alterations with dedicated BOM Comparison tools
  • Automatic documentation of all BOM modifications

StartProto Estimation Interface showing a breakdown of operations and materials.

Leveraging your cloud ERP solution’s Estimation and BOM modules ensures timely and budget-friendly delivery of intricate assemblies, all while maintaining a clear understanding of the actual costs upon job completion.


The next phase in the quote-to-cash cycle is the formulation of customer quotations. This is an area where the technological evolution of manufacturing industry processes is most evident. 

Quotes were traditionally crafted with some degree of estimation. However, with mobile-accessible ERP systems to dispel the ambiguity, you get a crystal-clear view of every expense associated with a project from anywhere — the back office, the shop floor, or your kitchen table. 

Cloud-based ERP software allows planners and cost estimators to effortlessly access data from analogous projects, refining their ability to gauge setup durations, operational times, and pinpointing the exact costs and material quantities required.

The ERP Inventory module offers enhanced oversight over inventory expenses by meticulously monitoring stock levels for both standard and bespoke items. Constant awareness of inventory status bolsters the precision of quotes and the capability to set profit margins for each project.

To ensure profitable quotations, it's crucial to be aware of the distinct costs for every job component, as well as the aggregate costs. The Job Costing Accounting tool streamlines this by individually monitoring various expenses like shipping, labor, overhead, and more. With the ERP Quoting tool, you can assure customers of fair pricing, while also ensuring your quotations are precise, consistent, and competitive.

Sales Order & Router Review

Post-quotation and subsequent customer approval, the next step is to draft the sales order and scrutinize the router to guarantee everything aligns before production initiation. The ERP Order Management tool streamlines this, overseeing the entire order journey from entry to routing. Comprehensive, real-time data ensures meticulous reviews, leading to informed decisions that optimize workflows, curtail labor expenses, and reduce errors.

Key features of ERP Order Management include:

  • Anytime, anywhere access to order data
  • Cost reductions via process automation
  • Precise inventory tracking to prevent stock discrepancies
  • Real-time tracking of shipped and invoiced orders
  • And more...

For businesses producing intricate products, the ERP Project Management tool is invaluable. It allows for detailed tracking and management, ensuring timely completion while optimizing revenue and cost control.

Work Order Initiation & Purchase Order Creation

Upon sales order approval, the next step is to initiate a work order. The Shop Management tool within your cloud ERP system, combined with Routing and BOM functionalities, facilitates this. It ensures timely work order releases, complete with all requisite details, while also generating the purchase order for materials.

Key features include:

  • Automated work order generation and release
  • Comprehensive job performance data tracking
  • Automated purchasing based on various criteria
  • And more...

PO Receipt, Material Issuance & Labor Data Collection

With administrative tasks completed, production can commence. Cloud ERP tools handle PO receipts, material issuance, and labor data collection seamlessly, ensuring efficient and error-free operations.

Key features include:

  • Simplified PO receiving process
  • Detailed inventory management
  • Real-time tracking functionalities
  • Efficient labor data collection and analysis

From WIP to Finished Goods, Shipping, Invoicing, and Payment Collection

The concluding steps encompass transitioning from Work-in-Process (WIP) to Finished Goods (FG), dispatching the product, invoicing, and receiving payment. Cloud-based ERP systems, with their comprehensive data collection from various modules, streamline these final steps.

Key features include:

  • Efficient shipping processes integrated with third-party shipping software
  • Simplified invoicing and payment processes through ERP eCommerce functionalities
  • And more…

Explore Cloud ERP Solutions and Evolve Your Shop

In essence, the best cloud ERP solutions will offer a holistic approach to modern machine shop management. Every phase of the manufacturing process — from quoting to cash receipt — is optimized, efficient, and customer-centric. Check out the ERP system StartProto helped a small job shop evolve after the owner first purchased the business in the quick video case study below:

If you’re interested in exploring and evaluating cloud-based ERP systems for your shop, start with StartProto, a cutting-edge platform designed specifically for small and mid-size job shop environments.


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