5 Top-Rated Manufacturing Software for Small Business

By: Saumya Srivastava on June 7, 2024

From standardizing work orders and inventory management to boosting quality control, manufacturing software offers diverse features that can transform the way products are designed, manufactured, and delivered on a factory floor or construction site. However, finding a tool with the right set of features can be overwhelming with a variety of options available on the market. 

To help you make the right choice, this article highlights, in alphabetical order, the five top-rated manufacturing software for small businesses based on user reviews. For each product, we include overall user ratings along with the highest-rated attribute, product benefits, review excerpts from industry professionals, and product pricing. Read more.

We selected products for this article based on their average ratings between January 2022 - January 2024, which may differ from their current overall average ratings.

1. AutoCAD

AutoCAD by Autodesk is a 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional design and drafting software platform for architects, engineers, and construction professionals. The tool allows creating drawings, annotations, and 2D and 3D models of parts, assemblies, and production layouts, which can be used for manufacturing processes such as fabrication or CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) machining. [1] Users can also create detailed manufacturing documents, such as bills of materials (BOMs) and assembly instructions. The tool also enables users to view, create, edit, and share manufacturing documents using the mobile application on a smartphone or tablet.

Here are some review excerpts from business users who have used AutoCAD for manufacturing:

“Confidence in the accuracy of the dimensioning, tools that help with the speed of projects, integration with other software, Ease of use of the work process and its popularization.” (Regina Miranda, Projetista, 2023)

“AutoCAD is a one of a kind design software and is an invaluable tool for a multitude of industry professionals. Once users gain an understanding of the tools and methods at their disposal, design becomes effortless.” (Conner Conner, Engineer, 2022)

“I used AutoCAD for a couple of months when I was at college, and it was my go-to software for any drawing or design project. It's an intuitive program with a lot of customization, which is perfect for someone like me who has a background in graphic design. It's so easy to use, and it doesn't crash as other ones do. I would totally recommend it to anyone who is looking for a CAD app!” (Mahmoud Harmouch, Backend Developer, 2022)

Read all AutoCAD reviews here.

AutoCAD

AutoCAD

4.65 out of 5 stars

3035 reviews

Highest-rated attribute: Functionality - 4.61

Commonly reviewed by*: Professionals in architecture & planning, civil engineering, and construction, according to Software Advice’s user reviews 

Starting price: $255 per month (billed monthly)

2. ERPAG

As the name says, it is an enterprise resource planning solution that enables creating and managing multi-level BOMs, listing the components and raw materials needed for the production process. Users can also generate work orders using this ERP software solution that specifies the tasks, materials, and timelines required to produce specific quantities of products. With the finite scheduling feature, the tool allows scheduling production considering real-time machine capacity, worker availability, and material lead times. This assists in optimizing resource allocations and meeting production deadlines.

Here are some review excerpts from business users who have used ERPAG for manufacturing:

“In general we are really happy with our license with ERPAG. Their customer support is very helpful, they are always friendly and can help your with everything no matter what. The software itself is also very powerful, we are not using all the features yet but are currently using more and more.” (Aushim Koumar, CEO, 2022)

“Initially liked the purchasing and PO functions the most...then I started digging into and learning more about multi-level BOM and love it. The new custom reports are great as well, and give the user more capabilities in designing the look and content of their documents.” (Bob Hohimer, OWNER, 2023)

“Simple in its layout and use but remaining very powerful in its ability, I have only used the mobile app briefly but it was a great experience.” (Damien Bell, DIRECTOR, 2022)

Read all ERPAG reviews here.

ERPAG

ERPAG

4.57 out of 5 stars

329 reviews

Highest-rated attribute: Customer support - 4.71

Commonly reviewed by*: Professionals in electrical/electronic manufacturing, consumer goods, and food production, according to Software Advice’s user reviews 

Starting price: $49 per month (billed monthly)

3. MasterControl Manufacturing Excellence

The manufacturing ERP software tool focuses on digital record-keeping and real-time tracking to standardize the production process and ensure compliance in the life sciences industry. Users can create digital work instructions for workers on the field or the shop floor. The tool’s electronic production records or logbooks allow documenting every step of the process using customizable templates available for different types of production activities. Managers can electronically sign off on entries in the digital records and monitor activities, allowing for immediate tracking and issue identification.

Here are some review excerpts from business users who have used MasterControl Manufacturing Excellence for manufacturing:

“We are building ours within the solution from the ground up.It is very simple and easy to build in the required controls as well as integrate with other solutions/modules within MasterControl such as Documents, Process, etc.” (Tracie Wood, Sr. Manager of Quality, 2023)

“Extremely easy for the end user to execute batch records and completely eliminates leaving blank spaces.” (Nick Lee, Regulatory Compliance Manager, 2022)

“I was able to quickly figure out how to create a Master Template and a Production Record by following the handouts from MasterControl.” (Phuong Phun, QA Sr. Specialist, 2022)

Read all MasterControl Manufacturing Excellence reviews here.

MasterControl Manufacturing Excellence

MasterControl Manufacturing Excellence

4.56 out of 5 stars

142 reviews

Highest-rated attribute: Ease-of-use - 4.50/5

Commonly reviewed by*: Professionals in pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and biotechnology, according to Software Advice’s user reviews 

Starting price: Available upon request from the vendor

4. MIE Trak Pro

This manufacturing ERP software solution offers a kiosk module for shop floor employees to check their schedules. Managers can drag and drop a job onto a machine to schedule it on the shop floor. The employee is automatically notified of the new task added to their schedule. The tool’s group clock-in feature allows a single employee to clock in for an entire group instead of individually clocking in at a workstation. Upon checkout, the data for each employee is saved so that the job costing can be calculated accordingly. Floor operators can also add inspection requirements for employees on the floor to enter the results directly from the kiosk.

Here are some review excerpts from business users who have used MIE Trak Pro for manufacturing:

“MIE Trak has continually met and exceeded our expectations.Their team really takes the time to learn your business.If they don't have a standard feature that will accomplish the tasks they have been quick to develop a solution.The flexibility and customization of the system was a major improvement from our last system.MIE Trak's customer service is top notch!” (Kyle Wilkerson, Presdient, 2023)

“Overall Mie Trak Pro has helped our manufacturing business become more transparent with day to day transactions. This in turn allows us to spend more time concentrating on increasing business instead of trying to constantly keep it organized and guessing where we are with production and materials. The software has helped us tremendously.” (Sonja Davidson, Controller, 2023)

“This is the second company that I have successfully deployed MieTrak Pro at; and the second company that has seen immediate results and improvements to efficiency and profitability. Their support team is quick and responsive and I have seen many features that we have requested be implemented over the years.” (Robert Kirkpatrick, Director of Operations, 2023)

Read all MIE Trak Pro reviews here.

MIE Trak Pro

MIE Trak Pro

4.63 out of 5 stars

159 reviews

Highest-rated attribute: Value-for-money - 4.71/5

Commonly reviewed by*: Professionals in mechanical or industrial engineering, machinery, and electrical/electronic manufacturing, according to Software Advice’s user reviews 

Starting price: Available upon request from the vendor

5. ProShop ERP

The tool has an integrated quality management system (QMS) that simplifies managing certifications (ISO, AS9100) and standardizes quality control processes. Employees on the shop floor can track and document any non-conformance issues and initiate corrective action requests (CARs) linked to the work order. The tool also automates certain QMS tasks; for example, expiry dates for materials can trigger automatic alerts to prevent their use in production, reducing the risk of quality problems. With the tool’s document management feature, users can store and manage all production and quality-related information in a centralized location for quick access and revision control.

Here are some review excerpts from business users who have used ProShop ERP for manufacturing:

“ProShop ERP has helped us level up as a small business. We now manage the business with real data to deliver work on time and improve our profitability. Our DIFOT numbers are significantly better. Our productivity is much higher - no need for afternoon shift and increased sales.” (Brett Kennewell, Director, 2022)

“We have had a very good overall experience. The implementation was as smooth as I think it could have been. We are still growing into certain modules but every time we do we see gains in productivity and overall process quality. The software has literally made us a better shop from top to bottom.” (Nick Grotjohn, Owner, 2022)

“Very smooth and easy implementation, our ProShop trainer/implementor was great to work with and implementation went VERY quickly, we were live on estimating and quoting in the first 2 weeks, were able to see our quoting get more accurate (You can measure that in the system when you win business) and for us to be able to handle 3x the number of quotes with the same staff. The team at ProShop are always there for us, a great group of professionals that support us exceptionally well.” (Phil Spivey, President, 2022)

Read all ProShop ERP reviews here.

ProShop ERP

ProShop ERP

4.92 out of 5 stars

98 reviews

Highest-rated attribute: Customer support - 4.89/5

Commonly reviewed by*: Professionals in aviation & aerospace, machinery, and automotive, according to Software Advice’s user reviews 

Starting price: Available upon request from the vendor

What features does manufacturing software offer?

The core manufacturing software features are

  • Bills of material: Access a list of individual components and sub-assemblies needed to build the final product. Each component listed in the BOM includes the part number or ID, description of the component, quantity required per unit during the production, and vendors or preferred suppliers. 

  • Inventory management: Track and manage the quantity of resources on hand to maintain proper supply. The feature allows for maintaining stock levels for each item, with real-time updates reflecting usage in production or sales. It also stores and manages BOMs to automatically calculate material requirements based on production plans. 

  • Order management: Organize, track, monitor, and execute customer orders for goods, investments, or any other purchases. The feature allows receiving orders electronically from web stores or manually entering them. It validates orders against inventory availability, generates production orders, allocates materials, and reserves resources based on the order requirements. 

  • Production scheduling: Plan and organize the use of resources in manufacturing to ensure that orders are completed on time and efficiently. The feature helps determine the order in which jobs or production batches will be processed. This considers factors, such as lead time, material availability, and task dependencies. The feature also uses data visualization, such as Gantt charts, Kanban boards, and calendars, to represent the schedules. 

All products listed in this report include the features mentioned above. Besides these core features, manufacturing software tools also commonly tend to offer:

  • Compliance management

  • Document management

  • Financial management

  • Production management

  • Production tracking

  • Purchase order management

  • Quality management

  • Quotes/estimates

  • Reporting/analytics

  • Supplier management

  • Supply chain management

  • Work order management

How to choose the right manufacturing software for small business

Here are some key considerations to help you find the best manufacturing software for small business.

  • Identify the business requirements and specific software features: Involve the production, inventory management, sales, and finance teams to have a well-rounded understanding of the manufacturing process. This will help identify areas of improvement (inventory control, customer satisfaction, or production process optimization), and specific pain points or inefficiencies (data entry errors, inaccurate inventory or cost forecasting) hindering the operations. Scan the manufacturing software tools based on the available features and how they help eliminate the issues. 

  • Consider remote access through mobile devices: Real-time access to production data allows managers to monitor operations remotely, identify issues faster, and make informed decisions on the go. On-field employees can access critical information and perform tasks, such as approving orders or checking inventory levels from mobile devices. Look for a manufacturing software tool that offers dedicated mobile apps for Android and iOS devices with the core software functionality. 

  • Check for software integration capabilities: Most manufacturing software vendors provide detailed documentation listing their integration capabilities. These include pre-built connectors for commonly used software, such as accounting, customer relationship management, or sales. Vendors also enable API (Application Programming Interface) integration, which allows different software tools to communicate and exchange data. Based on the team's technical skills, check if the selected tool integrates with the preferred business solutions and what the supported integrations are.

Common questions to ask software vendors before purchasing manufacturing software for small business

These are some common questions you can ask vendors when assessing manufacturing tool options:

  • Can the tool handle complex BOMs and routing?

Most manufacturing software vendors provide detailed documentation outlining such capabilities. Look for sections on BOM management and routing for any operational guidance, limitations, component types, or routing complexity. Directly ask the vendor if no such information is available on the vendor's website. State an example of the level of complexity the business typically deals with, such as the number of BOM levels, nested assemblies, or multi-level routing. 

  • Does the tool offer production planning and scheduling capabilities?

Manufacturing software tools are either ERP solutions or material requirement planning solutions. ERP systems offer comprehensive production planning and schedules with task sequences and data visualization boards. Material requirement planning solutions focus on material management, allowing users to plan material needs based on forecasted demand and BOMs. They offer basic scheduling functionality to visualize production flow. Ask the vendor if the selected tool is an ERP or a material planning solution and select the one that best fits the manufacturing business’s needs. 

  • Can the tool handle an increase in production volume or number of users?

Software scalability is essential for growing businesses, especially in manufacturing. Users need to check if the selected manufacturing software can be easily upgraded to handle large data volumes from higher production or increase the team size. Also, ask about any downtime that may occur due to increased data volumes or users. This will help in planning the bandwidth accordingly and avoid any last minute project delays.


Methodology

  • Have at least 40 unique product reviews, for use cases related to manufacturing, published on Software Advice between January 2022 - January 2024.

  • Have at least 20 unique product reviews from software users in small businesses, during the same time period.

  • Offer the following core manufacturing features: 

For products that met the first three criteria, we selected five products with the highest ratings to feature in this article.

*To determine which industries each product is “commonly reviewed by,” we check if at least 2% of reviewers come from a particular industry, and only then classify the product as having customers from that industry. Small businesses are defined as those with fewer than 200 employees.

Review excerpts are passages extracted from longer reviews written by verified reviewers that pertain to the most commonly identified topics. We obtain these excerpts by applying an algorithm that considers factors including, but not limited to, length, sentiment, topic coverage, and thematic relevance. Excerpts represent user opinion and do not represent the views of, nor constitute, an endorsement by Software Advice or its affiliates. Excerpts are not edited for clarity or grammar.

Editorial independence: We select and rank products based on an objective methodology developed by our research team. While some vendors may pay us when they receive web traffic or leads, this has no influence on our methodology.

Definitions:

  1. CNC machining: Computer numerical control (CNC) is a manufacturing method that automates the control, movement, and precision of machine tools through coding. CNC is commonly used for machining metal and plastic parts and mills, lathes, routers, drills, and grinders are some common cutting tools operated using CNC.