Mickey Gault

Stoneapp Director of Business Development

Fabricator Operational Software: A Competitive AdvantageWhat technology is most important to a fabricator:

Measuring Device?

CNC Saw?

CNC Router?




This article’s focus is how fabricator ERP systems add efficiency, improve communication, and provide real-time insight into the performance of the business.The fact is, all of these are necessary to produce quality stone countertops consistently. However, the item not listed and often overlooked is Software – specifically, Operational Software, as it is the one tool used by the entire organization. 

Just like modern smart phones have transformed our lives because of the apps, the same can be said for the expanding functionality of fabricator software.  The emergence of software began with task-specific software like Quoting apps but have recently evolved into fully integrated ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) offerings for one’s entire organization. ERP is defined as an “Integrated suite of modules that provides the operational and transactional system of record for your business” – Defined by: Mint Jutras R&A Inc. 

This article’s focus is how fabricator ERP systems add efficiency, improve communication, and provide real-time insight into the performance of the business. I’ll also outline the items to consider when shopping for an ERP system. 


The ideal system accommodates at least the four pillars of functionality:

1) CRM/Quoting

2) Project Management/Scheduling

3) Purchasing/Inventory

4) Accounting

The idea is to enter information one time and have the system present the data throughout the various modules where needed.

Here’s an example of how materials might be handled with one data entry point: 

  • Quoted Product: 
    Fantasy Brown is a determinant in the price.

  • Project Management:
    All departments understand Fantasy Brown is the selected product.

  • Purchasing/Inventory:
    Fantasy Brown slab available to be reserved for cutting or Fantasy Brown auto-populates on the Purchase Order then auto-reserves to the project once received.

  • Inventory: 
    Material Handlers understand the specific slab and location to bring to the saw for cutting. Remnant remains ‘reserved’ to the project until the project is complete and then auto-move back to inventory ‘In-stock’ status.

In this scenario no duplicate data-entry is needed as the system performs the routine tasks for the fabricator. This elimination of repetition is the efficiency gained by the fabricator which can be quantified in increased production, error reduction, and reduced labor.   

Think of other ways that fabricator-specific software might maximize efficiency:

  • Clear understanding of the Cost/Margin/Price before quote sent to customer

  • Comparison of Estimated vs Actual Cost/Margin/Price

  • Sales ‘Hunting’ and ‘Follow-Up’ effort tracking

  • Mapping functionality to optimize field technician routes without data entry redundancy

  • Interactive forms and checklists which staff and customers can sign

  • A place to see all of a project’s notes, files, and communications, including an ability to email

  • Ability to sync the financial data with one’s accounting system or built-in accounting system

And much more…   

Improved Communication

As fabricators grow, specialization increases requiring solid communication tools and discipline across the organization. Typically, specialization begins at the 2 to 3 “kitchens” per day range as the Field Technicians can no longer be a part of the Sales or Production teams. It is critical that even the smallest details of a customer’s request effectively transfer from Sales to the Template Technician and on to the Production and Installation teams or expectations are not met, resulting in reputational and financial risk. Today’s ERP systems provide an easy solution for the organization to seamlessly communicate across departments, reducing risk and project delays.

Real-Time Business Insight

Imagine the benefit of using real-time, accurate data from which to guide one’s business. Though difficult to quantify, it is the core of out maneuvering the competition. 

Data Reporting Considerations in an ERP:

  • Is the system providing calculated data, not just a value entered into a field?

  •  Is data timely (real-time), accurate, and presented in an efficient and clear manner?

  • What data-points are available?

  • Can the data be easily exported for use in analytics tools?

Future Development

Can the ERP’s current functionality accommodate one’s future business needs?

One should also consider product’s flexibility. Business needs change and the ERP must have the flexibility to adapt to the changes. 

Types of changes might include:

  • Shift in customer types (example: expanding into Production Builder or Commercial work)

  • Moving from ‘order taking’ to ‘hunting’ new clients

  • Expanding to multiple locations

  • Onboarding ease (Ex: Hire new controller or bookkeeper, can they use a familiar software like QB or Sage or do they need to learn and adopt a built-in system?)

  • How much can the system be tailored?

  • Can the system integrate with one’s website or customer portal?

Future Development and Stability: 

Is the software under continuous development bringing new functionality? Continuous development can be both good and bad. It is good because additional functionality becomes available without having to change software. It can be bad because ‘glitches’ are likely more prevalent.  

Implementation Plan

Almost as important as the tool itself is the need for a pathway to implement the new ERP. Here are some implementation considerations:

  • How finished is the product as a starting point?

  • Who is responsible for getting the full functionality of the system optimized?

  • How long does it take to get the ERP fully operational? 

  • How is training handled and what help resources are available?

  • Are on-site resources available to help one’s team quickly get back to full production?

  • How are current projects migrated into the new ERP?

  • What is the availability of customer support assistance?


Improvements in automation, machines, and tooling have allowed fabricators to produce a quality product more productively and consistently. Similarly, ERP software does the same for one’s entire organization. It is important to thoroughly investigate to determine the ERP system best for your team. The points and questions above provide an ‘overview of considerations’ when shopping. 

Lastly, the list below are some ‘functionality’ questions that might help you with your search:

  • How many times does the same data need to be re-entered?

  • How is work-order Phasing handled? – Consider accuracy of SF, T$, Rev $

  • When is material consumed? – At Cutting? At Installation? 

  • How do materials move from ‘Reserved’ to ‘In-Stock’? 
  • How does the material handler(s) know which slabs need to be brought to the Saw Station? 

  • How are Remakes and Service Reasons and Costs tracked? 

  • How are customer communications generated and retained? 

  • How is Estimated versus Actual Job Costing accomplished? 

  • How are new business hunting efforts managed (CRM)? 

  • Does the system allow for data extraction for use in other analytics tools? 

  • Can my stock material images be visible on my webpage? 

  • Is an on-site implementation Expert available? 

As Stoneapp’s Director of Business Development, Mickey Gault has overall responsibility for Marketing, Sales, Service, and Implementations. He is also Owner/Operator of Stone-BI, a Dashboard and Analytics tool combining data from Stoneapp, Accounting, Payroll, and Machines for timely and accurate operational data for countertop fabricators. In these roles he combines his expertise in fabricator processes, ERP systems, analytics, and communicating technical requirements. His goal is to help fabricators optimize their business through software design, deployment, and analytics.