A key lesson from having worked with ERP for more than 30 years is that you should not modify the system without first trying to change your business to match the solution. Satisfactory and successfully using the ERP system as-is, is the best solution. However, as that is not always possible; it is not the only solution. Neither is it a final destination. The business environment is constantly changing. To stay current with your time, your business processes and its enabling software need to change too:
- A primary rule of good business management practice is to continuously improve your way of working. When you are finished changing, you are finished.
ERP is at the beginning of a new era where social technologies, big data analysis, cloud, openness, mobility, specialized portals and awesome user experiences are key drivers. In the long run these drivers are going to deliver even better if you do not forget the lessons of the past:
- A primary rule of good ERP management practice is to avoid modifying the program code of the ERP system. Fewer modifications means less problems.
What makes modern ERP systems attractive is the offering of open computing and continual upgrades where every new release provides new business capabilities. Leading ERP vendors are investing huge amount of money to make its next release delivering business advantage for its customers.
It is nevertheless true that even the most suitable ERP system may not support all business needs. Regardless of how much you try to tweak a business processes to match the ERP system there may be no practical solution. If such a gap is crippling your business too much it is time to act.
When standard ERP does not offer a solution and the business advantage of having a better process or function brings more value than cost you need to consider one of these complementary ways for better ERP value:
- Apply a pre-integrated add-on application and use it for leveraging the value both of the investment and the ERP system.
- Design and assembly a mashup/composite application on top of ERP. These kind of apps allows reusing adequate ERP functionality while adding all new capabilities outside the ERP system.
- Making a code modification is the least attractive way to go. However, as we are living in the real world we must accept that it cannot always be avoided.
Although “chuck it all and start all over again” is too drastic, good ERP management do recognize that an ERP system can become outworn. Systems that have served the business well and repaid itself many times over will at some point reach its limit. This condition typically shows in that it becomes too hard to make progress. When that happens, it is a signal that it is time to move on and replace the old ERP system.
ERP also stands for ”Everything Requires People”. Even the best ERP system will not excel if the implementation and ongoing service is poor. Successful customer outcomes depends on people who a) know how to turn knowledge into value and b) are at war with unsolved business issues.
Exploring the pathways for better ERP value is all about moving forward for the right reasons in the right way at the right time. This is vital as you do not want to point a direction, ask the enterprise to follow and then find out you took the wrong way. Part of the agenda to follow on this blogg is therefore:
- Pointers for acheiving faster and greater enterprise ROI
- Why ERP-systems at times need to be replaced
- How ERP upgrades automates business improvement
- The business advantage of complementary applications
- Understanding the business value of mashup/composite apps
- Considerations when forced into making ERP modifications
- Why the right people make the right things happen sooner