A company’s ERP system typically represents years of development and investment. Its original focus was efficiently processing transactions and handling data entry, which many of the older packages still do adequately. Where they aren’t especially strong is in important ancillary areas like data extraction, data analysis, generating useful reports, and user interfaces that match well with a company’s unique workflows. The end result? Lots of frustration and people coming up with workarounds like Excel in order to get their jobs done.
Among the comments we’ve heard from these frustrated employees:
- “Sales forecasting and reporting require extensive manual intervention. It’s difficult and time-consuming to get accurate, up-to-date information and make decisions with it.”
- “We have dozens of spreadsheets and various types of workarounds that individuals have developed to simplify certain functions. Data extraction is a real problem.”
- “Our business is evolving faster than we can adapt the software to keep up with process changes.”
- “The same data is being entered multiple times in different places, and then it still has to be written on a white board out in the shop, where it is immediately outdated.”
- “It is not user friendly. It is not easy to configure. It does not easily tie into other systems. The general feeling here is that we are only sticking with this system due to our investment (time, money & effort).”
Sound familiar? So does this mean it is time to replace your older ERP system with a new one, or upgrade? Possibly, but in many cases the answer is “no”.
Instead, picture a separate “system” that sits next to the current one and plugs the key functionality gaps in ways specifically tailored to your operations, at a fraction of the cost of a new system or customizing what you have. This type of targeted investment is less risky, less expensive and delivered more quickly than a system replacement or customized upgrade. You get exactly what the users need.
Optimizing specific functions in ways that drive business improvement are what ERP systems are intended to do. The problem is they only partially do this for most companies, which leads to the dreaded workarounds. Regardless of the reasons for an under-performing ERP solution, don’t be too quick to assume it’s the technology alone. Human factors almost always play a role as well.
Replacing your existing system is costly, time consuming and likely unnecessary. Consider working with an outside company that has expertise in getting software to function in ways you need it to work, not only now but as your business evolves and must adapt to change. Invest the time to assess your current situation, but keep in mind that accurate self-assessment is virtually impossible. A second set of eyes can be quite beneficial, not only to gain knowledge but also to provide the objectivity needed for this type of decision.