As processes develop and guidelines change, compliance with rules and regulations has never been more important for manufacturers. Thankfully, the time-consuming compliance checks of times gone by have been streamlined through technological advances. Now, with the right ERP software in place, manufacturers can enjoy tighter controls and more efficient processes.
However, the sector’s growing dependence on digital means manufacturers have a new compliance challenge to face. As of May this year, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force in an attempt to improve data security and governance.
With this in mind, how can the right ERP system support manufacturing compliance, both in terms of digital developments and age-old manufacturing challenges?
How does ERP software support compliance?
The demand for regulatory compliance will vary across manufacturing niches, yet one thing remains consistent; the features offered by ERP software can streamline the process. In fact, manufacturers who haven’t yet implemented an ERP system are taxing themselves with additional, unnecessary compliance tasks, placing them at a disadvantage to their competitors and leaving their processes vulnerable to human error.
Two particular areas of manufacturing that are heavily centred on complying to industry regulations are food safety and pharmaceutical companies:
For food manufacturers, product recalls can lead to huge costs, a lengthy recall process and unforeseen damage to their reputation. Naturally then, preventing this recall from happening is of the highest priority.
By law, should a food recall occur, manufacturers must be able to identify those customers affected, while having full visibility of ingredients traceability and quality testing. Given the scale of data that could be needed at a moment’s notice, it’s clear that an unstable, non-automated spreadsheet simply won’t cut it. After all, Microsoft Excel wasn’t created for the benefit of manufacturers.
Pharmaceuticals is arguably one sector with the tightest focus on compliance and controls. There is very little margin for error — if any — as you would expect, given the high cost of product approvals and the huge impact that even the slightest mistake can have. Efficiencies across the entire supply chain and manufacturing process are essential in safeguarding a company’s bottom line.
The role of ERP software
When the stakes are high, these sectors need a software solution that is more than up to the job. Step in ERP software, a tried and trusted solution for managing regulatory compliance within food production and pharmaceuticals, as well as many other sectors. Here are just some of the benefits it brings:
- Complete oversight over core processes and procedures — rather than shuffling between spreadsheets, an ERP system allows visibility across an entire manufacturing process. If issues are present, they can be easily spotted.
- Increase quality standards — a direct result of this improved visibility is the boost in quality standards it facilitates.
- Streamline any product recalls through increased traceability — trace each step of the manufacturing process with ease in one centralised software system.
- Increase data security — as you’d expect, when data is of critical importance to a business, it’s crucial that it’s kept safe. Rather than depending on multiple ineffective methods that can fall victim to human error, an ERP system improves this through audit trails and other security features.
Compliance with GDPR
As I’ve discussed, ERP software brings numerous compliance benefits across manufacturing sectors. However, manufacturers are facing a new challenge: how do they use ERP software for their own compliance benefit while also remaining GDPR compliant when it comes into force in May?
We’ve discussed this in detail in our 'GDPR: What It Means For Manufacturers' post, which you can read here. However, the crucial takeaway is that GDPR compliance lies in the effective storage of personal information and data. Once the new rules come into force, you are accountable for the data you store.
ERP software actively supports the effective handling of such data. This begs the question then; does GDPR need to be such a headache for manufacturers? If you’re still relying on spreadsheets and outdated ways of working, chances are it will be exactly that; a headache. Yet, with the right preparations and an effective ERP system in place, you could just take the stress out of GDPR compliance.
If you’re considering implementing an ERP system to support compliance, get in touch with our business experts. We’re happy to discuss your specific aims, whether they are improving compliance within your manufacturing processes, or preparing for GDPR.