The MES build or buy decision - is there an ideal approach? (2/2)

What do you get when you build an Manufacturing Execution System application in-house vs. buy a ready product from a specialized vendor?
(PresseBox) (Porto, ) Last week we had a closer look at situation in which a manufacturer might choose to built an MES application for their own use. Today we'll show you when and why it's worth to take the other approach - buying a system from a vendor that specializes at it.

Modern MES vendors generally develop industry specific applications, incorporating what may be considered industry Best Practices, which encompass best business cases and manufacturing practices.

They are able to do so because of the elaborate experience gathered from working with industry leaders. Their dedicated IT personnel are not only highly skilled at what they do, but also have vast experience of working with customers and users, providing them a rich knowledge base, which is very hard to replicate when making the software in-house.

Other key advantages they bring to the market would be the expertise in managing databases, functionality management, user training/orientation, application support, integration with other applications. Overall cost and time advantage begs a mention too; since the manufacturers don’t need to worry about coding and validation, the comparative time required from realizing the need to implementing the application could be far less than making it in-house. Also the cost reduces as 90-95% functionality may actually be adopted as is.

A key point to note is that if certain functionality needs to be modified to better suite an operation, it is possible because of the modern techniques employed to make the MES applications, which are more iterative in nature and thereby make the application flexible.

SO WHAT DO YOU GET WHEN YOU BUILD AN APPLICATION AS COMPLEX AS THE MES IN-HOUSE?

Higher costs, higher concept to application time, higher risk associated with attrition, lower impact of functionality, lower user satisfaction, lower capability of modification, lower training support, lower application support, higher total ownership expenses and reduced ROI.

These deductions would hold true in most cases, except where an application is being developed only to address a very unique business or operational need, which is well understood by the internal IT team.

A word of caution here is to choose the correct vendor. It is important that the vendor being considered is capable of deploying a complete and circular solution, leaving no loose end to tie up later.

They should also be capable of providing support for the application and have the capability of making changes ranging from minor to drastic, depending on industry circumstances. User training, orientation and reporting are other factors where the vendor should fully satisfy the buyer and the MES project team with.

While considering the make or buy decision one should also consider the opportunity cost. In case of the make decision it would be high, as the current workforce would be better off working on the core competencies of the organization, rather than spending endless hours making the software which could have easily been bought from outside (and then modified to suit current operation, if needed). We have previously addressed this issue in more detail in our article concerning the same subject.

Finally a simple analogy might be provided for understanding the ideal approach towards an MES make or buy decision. Consider that you have experienced a bout of the common cold, which may be treated by a shot of paracetamol or some other house hold drug, however when it turns into a fever, it automatically triggers an impulse for you to seek expert consultation.

Such is the case when it comes to the MES make or buy decision., Simple and unique issues which requires a small effort and can be managed by the internal IT team should be kept that way, outsourcing it might prove expensive. However, when the application to be deployed is mission critical and would need continued support for achieving the strategic goals of the organization, it is only logical to approach an expert.

Download Test Report: Affordable MES. Performance and Scalability for Time-Critical Industry Environments by Critical Manufacturing

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