July 1, 2015

Top 5 Tools For Manufacturing CFOs

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The exponential growth of technology has led many manufacturing companies to repatriate, or re-shore, jobs and facilities which moved out of the United States in the late 20th century. A December 2014 report and survey from the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) predicts that revenue will increase in 2015 for 15 different manufacturing verticals.

Modern manufacturing firms face a number of challenges though. Both expenses and competition are growing as profit margins shrink, even while modern software and machinery are creating a semi-resurgence in the industry.

Increased automation has helped reduce costs, but the speed of information flow now means that proprietary manufacturing processes and competitive advantages don’t remain exclusive or competitive for long. That means in order to grow, manufacturing CFOs must use all of the tools at their disposal to control costs, increase revenues, and eliminate waste.   

Below, we’ve included information about the top five software tools manufacturing CFOs are using to stay relevant and grow their market share.

Manufacturing Automation 

Many modern manufacturing firms are automating the manufacturing process from end-to-end with enterprise resource planning (ERP) and manufacturing automation software.  Though the factory floor may still be more aligned with operations — and therefore outside the traditional CFO’s sphere of influence — modern manufacturing CFOs are increasingly being asked to apply their data analysis skills to all areas of the business.

Some of the top manufacturing ERPs include Infor Visual, Infor SyteLine, EVO~ERP, Syspro, and E2 Shop System.

Manufacturing Business Intelligence

Thanks to the widening scope of the manufacturing CFO’s role, supply chain management software, ERP systems, and other tools are increasingly being used to further optimization initiatives. Aggregating data from these disparate sources and mining it for relevant insights takes a fair amount of computing power, so many CFOs are turning to cloud-based business intelligence software to help them leverage the power of such “Big Data.” These systems can extract, transform, and load data from thousands of sources for analysis, visualization, and reporting. Accurately predicting lead times and establishing part levels for materials can help chief financial officers negotiate futures contracts and lock in low prices or compensate for fluctuations in supply and demand. Furthermore, eliminating data silos can help uncover inefficiencies in billing and the overall revenue cycle, analyze risk, and aid in sales and revenue forecasting.

Some of the top options for manufacturing business intelligence systems include Sales-i, Sisense, and Profitbase

Manufacturing Maintenance Software

Tracking maintenance on your equipment can be time-consuming, especially with spreadsheets, or worse — paper charts. Logging machine hours by hand on clipboards or in a three-ring binder isn’t only old-fashioned, it costs valuable labor that could be better spent performing maintenance, spot checks, or repairs. That’s where maintenance management software comes in. These systems track maintenance, repairs, and machine hours, which can improve the accuracy of manufacturing CFOs’ reporting and forecasting. When synced with the accounting system, they can automate tracking of expenditures, depreciation, machine hours per unit, and more.

Some of the top options for manufacturers include eMaint, Maintenance Connection, and NetFacilities.

Manufacturing Accounting Software

Though it’s probably the best established of all the software categories on our list, many firms are still shopping for accounting software: the central financial management and monitoring interface that aggregates transactional data to prepare reports and allows manufacturing CFOs to keep their fingers on the financial pulse of the business. Though legacy on-premise systems remain on the market, most modern accounting systems are now Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), or cloud-delivered.

Some of the top accounting systems for manufacturers include Xero, QuickBooks, FinancialForce, and Intacct, though many manufacturers use a combined ERP/accounting system. 

Manufacturing Dashboard Software

Last but not least, many manufacturing CFOs are shopping for dashboard software. Closely related to business intelligence systems, dashboard tools automate and visualize the tracking of various key performance indicators (KPIs) to increase visibility and communication. Monitoring operations, sales, and overall equipment effectiveness with dashboards helps executives maintain control and oversight without productivity-sapping status updates or “check-in” meetings. Many manufacturing software vendors include dashboards for various aspects of their systems, but many companies find a standalone dashboard program to be the best solution for their needs.

Some of the top manufacturing dashboard solutions include Board, PBL Scorecard, and iDashboards


Modern manufacturing’s increasing complexity is creating opportunities for innovation and optimization. We’ve helped hundreds of manufacturing firms select software that keeps them competitive in today’s marketplace.

To learn more about any of the software tools for manufacturing CFOs highlighted here, or to discover how software can help automate and optimize your business processes, call, click, or email to speak with one of our unbiased Technology Advisors.