ERP Falls Short for ETO … Or Does It?

Manufacturing Insights Blog

By John Dancoe, Product Manager, Plex Systems

A recent Industry Week article (“Why Project ERP Often Falls Short”) caught my attention. It identifies an ERP functionality gap and suggests that there’s no solution on the market today that fills it…but I beg to differ.

The article’s author reports that many engineer-to-order manufacturers have been unable to find an ERP solution that meets their needs, particularly in the area of project management. As a result, they end up using a completely separate system – sometimes homegrown, sometimes off-the-shelf – to handle project management. However, the lack of integration between such a system and an ERP system leads to inefficiencies, delays and a lack of real-time project visibility.

These are valuable observations. But then the author suggests there aren’t any ERP products in the market today that enable the kind of integration that ETO manufacturers require between project management and other enterprise functions.


The Plex Manufacturing Cloud includes built-in functionality that supports the project management needs of ETO manufacturers, including:

  • Complex quotation and order entry features that streamline processes
  • Robust project costing with historical data that can be referenced for future bids, estimates and quotations
  • Automated workflows and electronic signature capabilities that replace manual steps and remove duplication of effort
  • Improved ability to manage engineering change orders so revisions are handled smoothly

These features are integrated with quality management, production, supply chain management and all other functions across the manufacturing enterprise. As a result, users achieve shorter lead times, faster time to market and increased profitability.

An ETO Success Story

As the Industry Week article notes, “Without exception, important project elements are better controlled when there is tight integration between systems used to manage projects and the rest of the enterprise.”

Eagle Picher Technologies (EPT) Space & Power is a great example of this. This EPT division manufactures ETO batteries for some of the world’s most sophisticated satellite and telescope systems produced by government defense contractors. Other divisions of the company had been using Plex Cloud ERP for years when Space & Power decided to launch the solution to manage its business, including all aspects of project management.

Today, the division more quickly and easily manages custom orders; seamlessly performs related accounting functions; and has streamlined workflow, sign-offs, and other project management functions. Management is so pleased with the fully integrated solution that it often refers to Plex as its “contract management system.”

Do You Agree with Industry Week?

Nearly 40 percent of the respondents to the Industry Week survey said that there was no integration between their project management and ERP systems. If you are an ETO manufacturer, what has your experience been?