The ERP system is the backbone of the modern enterprise, supporting everything from front-office functions for sales automation and e-commerce to back-office workflows for accounting and HR management. Its centrality to business success makes any significant change to it a high-stakes undertaking – there is no shortage of horror stories of ERP implementations and upgrades gone wrong, with huge effects (read: billions in losses) on their respective companies.
All the same, it is possible to bring an aging and inefficient ERP system into the future without disastrous disruption to existing processes. The average ERP lifespan is five to 10 years, meaning that continual investment in its upkeep and modification is critical. We’ve put together this quick list of five tips for enhancing your ERP:
1. Integrate more digital technologies into your ERP
ERP as a term dates all the way back to 1990, and the concept itself stretches back further to the 1960s. However, this longevity doesn’t mean ERP is incompatible with the latest breakthroughs in enterprise technology. On the contrary, ERPs can be greatly enhanced with the addition of applications and services related to:
- Blockchain: Build more trustworthy, transparent systems of record for you and your supply chain partners.
- Intelligent Automation: Implement robotic process automation (RPA) to streamline swivel-chair work and free up employee time.
- Internet of Things: Extend your monitoring and insight with embedded sensors and RFID tags.
2. Shift more ERP apps into the cloud
“Cloud-based ERP is in most cases both more economical and more fully featured than an on-premises alternative.”
Cloud-based ERP is in most cases both more economical and more fully featured than an on-premises alternative. A Nucleus Research report found cloud deployments delivered more than three times the ROI of on-prem equivalents. Plus, a cloud upgrade can make it more practical to connect different platforms, such as company finance applications and data source systems, leading to the easier creation of dashboards that provide at-a-glance insights.
Oracle ERP solutions allow for a smooth transition into the cloud. By enlisting the help of integrated supply chain experts like the Inspirage team, you can ensure everything in your Oracle implementation lines up exactly as you want it to.
3. Do some periodic data cleaning
ERP systems naturally tend to accumulate tons of data, and much of it isn’t important. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to let go of even trifling bits of information because of a feeling that you might end up needing it down the road.
Building a master data management (MDM) solution into your architecture and systematic enterprise data quality practices are essential for ERP maintenance and improvement. Conduct regular reviews to trim fat such as duplicate entries. Better yet, establish best practices for data input and/or leverage RPA to keep data cleaner over time.
4. Document your business processes
Many ERP mishaps stem from issues with documentation. When business processes and vendor agreements aren’t fully and clearly documented, it’s all too easy to miss critical risk points that can jeopardize the value of the ERP implementation. Moreover, there’s the danger of institutional knowledge being lost entirely when certain employees leave – a key contributing factor to the ERP disaster affecting Woolworths Australia.
Documentation might seem too time-consuming to focus on amid numerous other commitments. But the time and money investments that might be required later, when something goes wrong, are much greater, making it smarter to start early and get everything in writing.
5. Keep employees trained and up-to-date on ERP best practices
While ERP systems have become more automated and robotic over time, their end users are still humans, who need to know how to perform a wide variety of ERP-centric tasks. Sometimes, it might seem like the ERP itself is the problem when in fact the issue is someone not being up to speed on recent changes to its functionality. Regular training is the best way to ensure everyone knows how to navigate the ERP system.