So said Mark Twain after hearing his obituary had been published in the New York Journal. Is ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) facing the same instance of misreporting, when we read that traditional implementations have run their course?
If you track the internet feeds and industry blogs, then you will have seen a trend over the past couple of months that is reporting ERP systems to be “still alive’, “not going anywhere”, and remain fundamental to the way that most small and medium-sized organizations (SMBs) manage their businesses.
With this reaffirmation of faith to the once almighty ERP system, what should you do, if anything, to nurture that relationship again? After all, don’t most companies have their systems running smoothly, to the point that it is part of their daily routine and they don’t have to give it a second thought?
Well here’s another quote to consider – Familiarity breeds contempt, while rarity wins admiration – so said Apuleius, Roman philosopher back in 124 A.D. Has the success of the ERP system in managing and integrating business processes made SMBs become complacent, and could they be taking advantage of the agility of those systems to help them maximize the investment they have already made? The admiration award goes to those firms who continue to challenge themselves by changing the way they do business to outwit their competition. What may also need to change is the way they evolve their use of ERP systems to effect that change.
If you are one of the thousands of firms who implemented ERP only for accounting and financial management, when was the last time you reviewed your configuration to determine if it could do more? It’s likely that your original evaluation matched feature and functionality to specific business requirements, and once the implementation project was completed you have never given a second glance at what else the software could help you accomplish. Overtime, the business may have evolved and grown so that you now have increased reporting requirements. For example, through mergers and acquisitions, you now need to consolidate across entities or locations, and you’re not sure how or even if, your current system can accommodate this. So you continue to struggle with how to enter intercompany transactions, wasting a lot of your precious time.
It’s time to reverse the thinking; let’s put the proverbial screws on your ERP system and challenge it to do more. We’re in tough economic times, when everyone is trying to manage costs and get their expenses under control. Isn’t this the perfect time to take a second (or maybe it’s the first) look at streamlining your processes and determine if there are opportunities to improve?
So don’t believe everything you read; the demise of ERP seems to be only in the pundits minds. Maybe business owners should have a different approach – use it more effectively and efficiently, and evolve the software as their business evolves, rather than jumping on to the ‘next best thing so soon’.