One seemingly simple question on the mind of most people is what is the best ERP platform? Assuming that you’ve read and understood the benefits of a ERP system (read here). Especially when you are in the middle of embarking a journey towards the common standards of Industry 4.0.
It is a simple question but it is surprisingly difficult to answer. Because, as it turns out that you really need to ask this question in a few different ways. First, we have to ask why people are actually doing an ERP project. Ultimately, if this is the driver for the entire thing, then we have to ask what kinds of challenges people actually experienced during the project. And then we have to explore what some of the key ongoing operational issues are for managing the entire system.
What Drives Successful ERP Projects?
Every enterprise is unique – there is however some two common themes that appears in the majority of ERP implementations. The first is the need for improved reporting and the second is support for executive initiatives.
The funny thing is that when you drill into these things, you will learn that most of those initiatives involve some sort of reporting capability (and, hence, the drive for Big Data and Analytics).
The other things are of course industry-specific initiatives and the need to accommodate future growth of the business.
In many cases, this growth comes from international expansion and acquisition. This means it is important to put a lot of emphasis on the data model underlying the product and how the product affords integration and expansion.
So what are the key challenges that Enterprise face during actual implementation of an ERP project? There are three key factors that really govern overall project success.
1. Change for End-Users
The first is anticipating and managing change for end-users. Ultimately, if the users don’t end up actually using the ERP solution the projects is a failure. Effectively managing change depends on a variety of things, a good user interface is important but so is the ability to support actual business processes.
2. Business Processes
The second issue is appropriately documenting the business process. This practice becomes particularly important as the business changes and has to upgrade and update. The ERP system business process documentation can come in the form of detailed process guides. Or it can be executed implicitly in the application through effective support for workflow and process automation.
3. Relationship with Providers
The third key factor is managing the transition from implementation to operation. Now no technology can effectively address this issue, success here is about finding the right partners for both technology and implementation. ERP is more than an application; it is a long-term relationship with solution providers.
Successful ERP projects requires technology with a good data model to support integration and ongoing development. This will support reporting, executive demands, and ongoing growth but the technology also needs an effective UI, good support for custom business processes, and above all robust partners.
What Makes a Great ERP System?
I guess the most important question that you might ask, still relates to this – What makes a great ERP system?
Obviously, an appropriate system has to be able to meet the base requirements of the enterprise (while this may be expected, there are many ERP systems who are not able to deliver this still).
A manufacturing company, for example, must have the appropriate manufacturing modules but ERP has been around for a long time so there is a high degree of similarity between the various systems. The best products, however, have features that address the problems that we see at each stage of the ERP project.