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FAQ – Critical Capabilities for MES

by Rick Franzosa  |  February 12, 2019  |  Submit a Comment

On February 11, 2019 Gartner published the first release of the Critical Capabilities for Manufacturing Execution Systems.  While the MES vendor and practitioner community is generally familiar with the Gartner Magic Quadrant, the Critical Capabilities document is foreign to this space.  We’ll answer some frequently asked questions

OK, so what’s the difference between an MQ and Critical Capabilities?

Gartner initiated a Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) Magic Quadrant (MQ) research project in 2017. The MES MQ, is often mistakenly considered a review of MES products alone, it is really an evaluation of the MES market and the leading MES vendors in that market. While MES product is an important consideration it is not the only one and evaluation of factors like global scope, sales and marketing track records, customer satisfaction, operations, vendor viability and others contribute to a vendors placement on the MQ.  The MES Critical Capabilities report focuses on the MES products.  In some ways, it levels the playing field.  Each product is evaluated on its own merits.  The fact that an MES product may be a component of a larger end-to-end platform is not a consideration of the Critical Capabilities document, except where integration is the critical capability.

How does it work, this Critical Capabilities document?

There are two dimensions to the Critical Capabilities:

  • Critical Capabilities – we identified 10 critical capabilities that are both important to MES solutions, but are differentiators between one vendor product and another.
  • Use Cases – MES systems are used in different ways across different industries.  In order to adequately compare solutions, we defined use cases, based on manufacturing process and style rather than vertical industry.

How are these products rated?

Each vendor product is rated against each critical capability on a 1-5 scale (poor to outstanding).  The rating is based on a combination of customer reference information, vendor briefings and other research sources.   Then, for each use case,  each critical capability is weighted based on its relative importance to the use case.

Critical Capabilities Use Case Rating Table


A product score for a use case is simple math,  the product score for each capability is multiplied by the use case weighting for that capability, and the sum of the weighted scores for each use case then becomes the product score for that use case.

What if I don’t agree with the use case weightings?

That is one of the coolest features of the interactive version of the Critical Capabilities document.  You can customize the weightings to meet your needs.  For example, if you are in a highly regulated industry, you may want to increase the weighting for critical capabilities that support regulatory compliance.

OK, Mr. Analyst, what do the results of the Critical Capabilities for Manufacturing Execution Systems tell you?

1) The twenty-three products rated in the document were fairly close in ranking.  MES is a relatively mature technology, so parity is not really a surprise.

2) Every vendor product excels at something, no vendor product excels at everything.

3) Applying use cases based on manufacturing process and style are more useful than industry groupings.  For example, manufacturers that classify themselves as aerospace and defense make products from aircraft to satellites to armored vehicles to radar equipment to munitions, each with completely different manufacturing style, process and challenges.

How do I get a copy of this Critical Capabilities for Manufacturing Execution Systems?

Gartner clients can find the document here.



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Category: business-value  digital-manufacturing  erp  mes  mom  plm  

Tags: digital-manufacturing  manufacturing-process-management  mes  model-based-manufacturing  plm  smart-manufacturing  

Rick Franzosa
Sr. Director Analyst
5 years at Gartner
35 years IT Industry

Rick Franzosa is a Sr. Director, Analyst in Gartner's Supply Chain Research organization. Mr. Franzosa is responsible for Gartner's manufacturing technology systems research. He works with vice presidents and directors of manufacturing, business process experts and enterprise architecture and IT roles supporting manufacturing operations. He also works with providers of technologies and services for manufacturing operations. Read Full Bio

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