Do you really need a new ERP?

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Do you really need a new ERP?

Everywhere you look there is another spreadsheet. As you walk among the people you hear complaints that the ERP is too hard to use and doesn’t yield the information needed. Is it time to change your ERP, or could you modify your current one to the same effect?

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Diagnose your process problems

Sometimes ERP problems are really a symptom of processes that should be looked at first. Map the flow of work as it is today. Are there any steps that do not add value or might be redundant? Does everyone know who their internal customer is and what requirements they have? Where could you simplify?

If your ERP is expecting actions in the sequence 1, 2, 3, then 4 but people are working 2, 3, 1, then 4 then the ERP just will not fit. If you are doing things wrong, the fanciest, most expensive ERP in the world won’t solve your problems.

Understand why these occur

Has your business changed? If you chose your current ERP when you were a make-to-order business but now you are primarily a make-to-stock business, maybe a new ERP will improve your situation. If your customer or some compliance agency has demands today that the ERP cannot provide for, a new ERP could be what the doctor ordered. But if you could reset some of the internal configuration switches in your ERP your problems might dissolve.

Influence key decision makers

This could be the most important consideration. Ultimately, the decision whether to change ERP system or not will be made in the C-suite. If no one there sees an adequate return on their investment there will not be any new ERP. Help them choose. Collect and present data on the cost of the issues you see. Be sure you communicate the reasons for a new ERP and what steps are already taken to ensure ERP is the problem and not a symptom.

Otherwise, you are only griping or whining. Gather some preliminary data from ERP providers so they can see the likely cost and it is possible to see a worthwhile ROI. Listen to them too. Maybe they are convinced but are waiting for the next round of financing to complete before taking any action.

Think about other possible actions to solve or reduce the pain people feel. Would another module added to your existing ERP be the answer? How about some customization? Maybe it makes sense to change the ERP so it expects the 2, 3, 1, 4 flow you use. The cost of the customization could be less than replacing your ERP, but you may still have to convince senior management types to give you a budget to do this.

If you have carried out diligent research and can make a convincing argument, state your case now. The complaints and spreadsheets will not go away if you don’t create some momentum towards change.

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