Pre-configured software templates — are they effective?

Manufacturing Operations Management systems look to specific industry needs


The manufacturing operations management (MOM) software space is evolving in coverage areas and delivery methods. Along with increasingly modular architectures and the incorporation of technological advancements such as mobile access, big data, and cloud capabilities, vendors are investing in industry-specific, pre-configured libraries and templates as part of their manufacturing execution system (MES) and enterprise manufacturing intelligence / operational intelligence (EMI / OI) applications, according to Mark Davidson of LNS Research.

In recent conversations with 20 of the top MOM software vendors, LNS found that approximately half of them emphasized current and future investments in industry-specific templates.The intent of this specialization is to increase the speed of implementation and time-to-value for customers and capture industry best practices.

Launched a few months ago, the LNS Research MOM survey has been taken by more than 200 manufacturing executives and decision makers, diving deep into technological, process, and cultural concerns relevant to manufacturing operations in the pursuit of operational excellence.

We sought to answer two specific questions: How effective are these pre-configured templates in today’s market? And what percentage of companies are choosing to implement a solution "out-of-the-box" as opposed to some level of customization?

In one question, specific ranges were given for respondents to share the proportion of their manufacturing software implementation that was custom vs. pre-configured. This question was limited only to companies that had completed implementations. As shown in the graph below, the largest group of respondents, 35 percent, used 80 percent of the vendor template and 20 percent customization.

While only 1 percent of respondents chose to implement solutions straight out of the box with no customization whatsoever, it’s important to note that more than half of respondents, 51 percent, used between 80 percent and fully pre-configured functionality. The next highest response, at 22 percent, was 60 percent template and 40 percent customization, which means a total of 73 percent of companies are using between 60 percent and 100 percent of pre-configured templates.

In another question, we asked companies that had completed some type of MOM software implementation how long it took to implement. As the graph below illustrates, we see that 38 percent of initial implementations took companies six to 12 months to complete. Though the percentage of implementations that took less than six months is relatively low at 8 percent, we are seeing a trend of more rapid implementations with a smaller scope that are later scaled in manufacturing enterprise coverage and/or functionality over time.

By looking at some of the longer timeframes on the graph, we see that the majority of initial implementations are completed within the first 24 months. This is positive, because it’s often difficult to keep teams engaged on software projects beyond this timeframe.

When we look at subsequent implementations, we can see that once the groundwork and application templates are completed on the first implementation, the speed increases for additional implementations. Nearly half, 49 percent, take only six to 12 months, and 22 percent are taking less than 6 months, meaning a total of 71 percent are complete within a year or less.

What is an effective solution selection? The MOM software market is maturing, especially for the MES software and EMI / OI application space as vendors are offering increased industry-specific options and pre-configured templates and functionality. In our data, we’re finding a trend toward companies selecting out-of-the-box functionality when available, and that this is helping improve overall time-to-value and speed in subsequent application implementations.

Edited by Jessica DuBois-Maahs, Associate Content Manager

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