infoTECH Feature

May 26, 2015

Best Practices for Maintaining an Effective ERP Implementation

Long ago, the ERP landscape was very scant, serving only the largest of companies. Innovations we have experienced in the last few years has vastly altered this landscape, allowing enterprise resource planning to be a part of virtually any company of any size. This has led businesses to make better decisions with regard to their human resources, business practices, and allocation of capital for various projects and activities. It’s very difficult to overestimate the effect and savings this resource has had on operators in every industry.

To compete in the market with larger contenders, small and mid-market enterprises cannot afford to make less agile decisions. As a result, ERP adoption has shot up considerably within these markets. At this moment, according to Software Advice,  there are still many businesses using multiple systems as opposed to using a unified ERP, but this may not be the case for long. For new adopters, it’s important to know that it’s just as important to adapt the proper solution as it is to use it correctly.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution

Anyone experienced with software knows that picking a solution isn’t as easy as getting a list of contenders then blindly picking the first one that has a catchy name. Although selecting an ERP is a less precarious process, it is indeed one that cannot be taken lightly. Each developer has created its solution with certain company sizes and target industries in mind.

The pricier ERPs out there are usually meant for heftier organizations that want to trim the fat in their overarching internal bureaucracies. More affordable (and simplified) software is available for companies that are looking to grow. Each enterprise must first answer one question before beginning the search: What do I want my ERP to do for me? Establishing what your highest priority target is will help you target a proper solution that produces results that exceed your expectations.

Should you deploy on the cloud or on-premises?

There are numerous advantages and disadvantages to both deploying in the cloud and on-premises. If you have a solid IT infrastructure with a very stable Internet connection and failover mechanisms, it might be worth it to give an on-premises solution a go, especially if you must do so for compliance purposes. The cloud option is very enticing for both large and small companies because of its flexible and rapid deployment. In the cloud, hardware maintenance costs are often absorbed by the provider hosting your data.

Cloud-based ERP deployments usually come in the form of software-as-a-service (SaaS (News - Alert)) or platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solutions. Of the two, SaaS requires the least maintenance, while PaaS offers a greater amount of flexibility.

Take longevity into account

While it’s important to rely on a solution that integrates well into your ecosystem, it is equally important to find something that you can rely on for a very long period of time. An ERP’s longevity depends entirely on the stability and reputation of the provider. Since it’s an ongoing service, if the company selling this service to you doesn’t stick around for the long run, you are once again forced to find another ERP system and go through the process of finding, implementing, integrating and automating your many functions and once again have to customize your complex needs. Deploying becomes a headache if you have to do it multiple times every few years.

Keep everything up to date

ERPs are enormous solutions that require a large amount of care to function correctly. Neglecting to update it can lead to problems such as long-standing bugs getting in the way of your operations and security loopholes allowing savvier hackers to take advantage of the flaws in the system. The problem with big software packages is that they can take eons to update because of the sheer amount of minutiae that gets in the way during the process.

You can ease the process of keeping everything up to date by deploying ERP automation tools to manage the updates, code cleansing, and patching process. Panaya, for example, utilizes big data to automatically track all possible trouble spots during an update and streamline the process of accomplishing the task without ruining the carefully-crafted harmony of the rest of your IT ecosystem. Speaking of which....

Make sure your ERP can integrate with your other solutions

If you’re using a CRM or a human capital management solution from another company, it’s always good to have an ERP that can “talk” to it. This helps you avoid blunders during the data entry process and wasting time trying to fix it, never mind all the time the company loses by inputting data more than once into different platforms. An integrated ERP makes life much less cumbersome for the people who will have to use it the most. Most popular solutions, like Oracle (News - Alert) EBS, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, SAP and the like, feature a modular deployment, wherein enterprises can add specific modules that cater to various business areas.

One last thing …

Just as an IT department needs to be evaluated regularly based on a balance between the needs of the company and the resources available to fulfill them, ERPs also need to be evaluated regularly with regards to cost versus benefit. If you feel that your ERP is not giving you the ROI necessary to justify its existence, then it is time to apply what was discussed here to find another solution that can take you forward.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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