There’s no argument that fully integrated manufacturing ERP system is the way to go. It is very interesting that so many of the top ERP systems advertise that functionality such as Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), Warehouse Management (WMS), Manufacturing Execution System (MES), Preventative Maintenance (PM), Quality Statistical Process Control (SPC), to name a few, are “integrated” into their ERP system. When you get under the covers you might find that “integration” means another company’s products running on a different database with periodic batch transfer or no data sharing at all. They then fall back on the “Best of Breed” argument that allows them to point to a different solution that can “integrate” to theirs with hardly any work; after all they support Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) which allows any system to be integrated to our system. Not so fast.
The reality is that there are big costs involved to integrate and support a multi-vendor manufacturing system. SOA technology does nothing to address the costs to maintain the integration through the many updates to the best of breed and ERP software that will take place over time. Many times these software vendors will fall back on the promise of SOA as a way to disguise the fact that their product offering is limited and will not handle all of the requirements of the manufacturer.
You should be looking for an extended ERP system on a single database with user interfaces that have a common look and feel. The data synergy that can be achieved with an ERP system that has all of the above functionality built into the foundation of the product is the largest advantage over the best of breed model.