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SAP vs. Oracle vs. Microsoft Dynamics vs. Infor: Implementation Duration

Panorama’s Clash of the Titans 2016 provides an independent comparison of SAP, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics and Infor. Watch this webinar clip for a more in-depth analysis of the average implementation duration for these four vendors.

Compared to our previous report, each of the four vendors increased in implementation duration. Microsoft Dynamics implementations, which averaged 12.5 months in 2013, increased to 24.9 months this year. Oracle implementations, which averaged 22.5 months in 2013, saw a slight increase to 23.4 months, as did SAP from 18.5 months to 19.5 months.

A small increase in implementation duration may be attributed to changes in project scope and resource availability. More significant increases may be attributed to unclear requirements or excessive customization.

The full webinar is available here: Review of Panorama’s 2016 Clash of the Titans Report. For more YouTube videos and webinar clips, visit our YouTube Channel.

The Basic Structure of an RFP

Having prepared and responded to numerous requests for proposals (RFPs) across many governmental and nonprofit sectors, I’m always surprised by the amount of RFPs that do not include a proposal response format. When an organization has not included a proposal response format, it leaves the potential respondents scratching their heads. While a Q&A period can help alleviate some of the confusion, the answers often come too late to have a meaningful impact on proposal content and structure.

Proposal format can be broken down into two subcategories: (1) physical requirements and (2) proposal structure. Physical requirements are the mechanisms for ensuring that the proposals look the same and all responders provide the same amount of information. Proposal structure is the content and order in which the proposal is presented.

More often than not, I see that organizations are very specific with the physical requirements of the RFP response, such as typeface, font size, pitch, line spacing, margins and page count. While I appreciate precision, some of these technical requirements have carried over from the typewriter days and have no real application in the most common word processing programs. But, on a whole, most organizations provide enough physical requirements to alleviate guesswork among proposal respondents.

The proposal order is more of a mixed bag. Some organizations are very orderly and provide tables with fixed fields so respondents will only answer what is asked and respond in a predetermined fixed space. This gives organizations confidence that their proposals are being compared apples-to-apples with other respondents’ proposals. To be successful with this type of proposal, the responses require adept writers who are able to select and present the most pertinent information. There is no “see what sticks” approach to responding.

On the other side of the spectrum, there is no structure, and the RFP does not give the respondents a response order. Recently, I was looking at an RFP that had no determinable items for a proposal response. I could not discern between items that were to go into the proposal response and items that were to be delivered once the contract had been awarded. To frustrate matters further, there was no Q&A period to provide more clarity. These unclear requirements, coupled with a short turnaround time and no Q&A, means that the organization is going to receive a kitchen-sink approach from many respondents since none of the responses are going to be in the same order and none will address the same topics. Comparing responses will be unnecessarily difficult for reviewers.

A well-written RFP that includes both physical requirements and proposal structure is necessary for quality responses. Without a cohesive RFP, the organization will have an exceedingly difficult time reviewing responses side-by-side and ensuring that their requirements are met upon award.

To learn more, download our white paper, Lessons Learned From a Government ERP Failure.

How to Develop an IT Strategy That Aligns With Your Enterprise and IT Strategy

anniversary7Too often, companies jump right into selecting new ERP software without first understanding their overarching enterprise and IT strategy. It’s an easy mistake to make when your current systems seem so dated compared to newer options in the industry, but it typically leads to disappointment.

A disconnect between the strategic direction of your overall company and your selected and implemented ERP system can lead to trouble, so here are some tips to develop an enterprise IT strategy that aligns with your overall company strategy:

  1. Define your company’s overall strategy. Some organizations have well-defined strategies, while others don’t. In either case, it is important to either define and document your strategy if it doesn’t already exist, or leverage your existing strategy to complete the additional steps below. This entails ensuring that you have a clear vision for where the organization is headed in terms of growth prospects, future markets or customer bases that you plan to pursue, potential M&A activity and other key strategic criteria that should ultimately influence how you move forward with your IT strategy.
  1. Define IT’s role and purpose in your organization. Ask yourself a key question: does your organization view IT as a commodity or support role in the company, or is it viewed as a competitive differentiator that can help provide unique value to your customers? The answer to that question will likely lead you down one of two paths – one that leads to outsourcing IT functions and applications, or another that leads to building those competencies in house. This will also determine the types of enterprise solutions you might pursue in the future, such as cloud, SaaS, on premise, best of breed, etc. The graphic below shows a basic framework that can be used to drive some of those decisions.

it-strategy

  1. Assess your internal IT group’s competencies. Based on your answer to #2, you also need to look at how sophisticated your group is (or isn’t). A more sophisticated group, for example, may be better suited to handle a best of breed on premise environment, whereas a less robust IT department may be better suited to manage a SaaS ERP system. When assessing your competencies, be sure to take into account the breadth of your team’s skills, as well as your overall physical infrastructure.
  1. Priority of short-term benefits versus long-term benefits. Certain companies move faster than others. Some are more patient in realizing benefits, while others may not be. It is essential to understand how important it is for your team to implement solutions quickly and inexpensively versus focusing on maximizing longer-term business benefits. Those two paths can lead to very different IT strategies. Either way, it is important to look for low-hanging fruit to realize some benefits early to help build momentum.
  1. Other considerations. There are a host of other considerations to keep in mind when building your enterprise IT strategy. For example, how open are your employees to change? How unique is your business compared to peers in your industry? How much are you looking to standardize your business operations across multiple locations or business units? Which areas of your business are the “real” competitive differentiators that you want to focus more resources on? All of these and other questions will help determine the appropriate enterprise IT strategy for your organization.

These five areas will help define an enterprise IT strategy that is aligned with your company vision and strategy. That alignment is more likely to lead to enterprise software success than your industry peers and counterparts.

Learn more by watching our on-demand webinar, How to Define the Best Enterprise Strategy Roadmap for Your Organization.

Panorama’s ERP Boot Camp: You Don’t Even Have to Cut Your Hair

I remember my first boot camp. At the end of it I could knock out 100 pushups in two minutes and turn my shoes into black mirrors, but there is not much need for that in corporate America. Panorama’s ERP Boot Camp, on the other hand, is exactly what you need in the corporate world, and you don’t even have to cut your hair.

ERP Boot Camp, December 9-11 in Anaheim, CA, shows you how to make tough decisions about your organization’s future: Do we need to implement a new ERP system? What ERP system should we implement? Below is a handy guide outlining what you will learn at Panorama’s ERP Boot Camp:

1.  Business process reengineering. Be exposed to all the successes and failures of past ERP implementations, and understand how business process reengineering played a role in the outcome. Panorama will provide several case studies from a variety of industry verticals of projects that went exceedingly well and projects that were train wrecks.

2.  Only the facts. We pride ourselves on our independence, and we are not beholden to any ERP system or firm. We give both sides to every story and provide an impartial and critical review of the different aspects of selection, implementation, project management and other key issues.

3.  We omit nothing. We discuss the technical, organizational and human-side of ERP projects, including selection, implementation, organizational change management and business process reengineering.

4.  Organizational change management. We will tell you why it is important, who should do it, how to do it and where all the friction will come from. It may surprise you.

5.  Ask questions, challenge the experts and throw donuts at the speakers. No question is a bad question and nothing is off limits except a human sacrifice, at least in Denver and parts of El Paso County.

6.  Meet industry experts and vendors for personalized counseling and advice. Ask them the hard questions during their presentations or one-on-one. They will give you insightful and candid advice that is hard won from hundreds of implementations.

Panorama will put on a good spread so that you will be well nourished mentally, physically and maybe emotionally during the sessions. I always cry during the technical fit analysis.

So there it is; why you need to go to ERP Boot Camp, cut your hair and stop listening to rock music . . .  oh wait wrong boot camp. Panorama’s ERP Boot Camp will give you the skills without the ills of an off-track ERP implementation. So come to Boot Camp, get your questions answered, learn the correct questions to ask and meet the experts. Register by November 18th for an Early Bird Discount.

Client Experience – 9 Stories Over 10 Years

ERP TestimonialOne of the best parts of our jobs as ERP consultants is being able to learn about so many different organizations. We get to hear the stories of how our clients started, how they got to where they are and best of all, help them scale for future growth and success.  We have the privilege of helping these companies select and implement new ERP systems that allows them to accomplish their visions, goals and objectives much faster and more effectively than if they hadn’t leveraged our ERP expertise and processes.

This week mark’s Panorama’s official 10-year anniversary since it’s founding. Over those 10 years, we’ve had the good fortune of working with over 300 of some of the world’s most successful, highest growth and most interesting organizations across the globe.

Although it was a very difficult exercise, we wanted to highlight 10 clients that stand out over the last 10 years:

  1. Swingle Tree, Lawn, and Landscape Care. This Denver-based, mid-size consumer services company was the first client to leverage our entire ERP lifecycle of services – from ERP software selection and planning all the way through and after implementation. It was also the client that solidified the starting point for the methodologies that we now leverage for all of our clients. In addition to the CEO continuing to be a good friend of mine to this day, the company also awarded us with their 2007 Partnership Award. This recognized us as their top vendor for the year. This was the first in a series of client recognitions and awards we have received.
  1. Coldwater Creek. Although this clothing retailer has become the victim of changing consumer tastes and economic headwinds, they were the first client to hire us exclusively to manage their organizational change management program for their global SAP implementation. Although many clients have also since hired us to manage their various ERP organizational change management initiatives, this was the project that piloted the initial version of the change methodology that we use to this day.
  1. Ashcroft, Inc. In addition to genuinely liking the people we worked with here, I liked this client because they were one of the more complex, mid-size organizations we worked with in our early years. The evaluation, selection and ERP implementation project we managed for them challenged us to address business process complexities, highly tenured staff with resistance to change, international expansion and other intricacies that we hadn’t seen up until this point.
  1. Fisher and Paykel. This was a fun client to have because it demonstrated our ability to successfully handle our first large, international client based outside of Panorama’s North American headquarters. During our engagement with this New Zealand-based client, we were challenged to navigate unique business process and organizational dynamics that we hadn’t seen much of at that point. This was also a very meaningful client that provided medical devices that contribute to saving lives. It brought a new found meaning to the ERP consulting advice that we had always provided.
  1. PetroMasila. This international client was based in Yemen and remains one of our largest oil and gas clients to date. We helped this client oversee their Epicor implementation by providing independent validation and verification (IV&V) oversight throughout their 18-month implementation. Providing our insight in a dangerous locale such as Yemen, combined with the unique organizational and operational dynamics of doing business in that part of the world, forced us to tighten up our processes.
  1. Quest Nutrition. This is another client providing a product that I am not only a big fan of, but in this case, I am mildly addicted as well. Quest does more than sell nutrition bars – they are trying to change the way people eat – which makes working with them even more rewarding. It adds a whole new perspective to the meaning and value of ERP selection and implementation projects. They have also shown extreme success in a short period of time and possess a unique company culture with a great group of executives, managers and employees.
  1. Lisle and EZ Way. As our average client has gotten bigger over the last few years, it’s always nice to have a successful, down-to-earth, family-owned client like this one. This Midwest US-based auto parts manufacturer and supplier has been a loyal client throughout their ERP selection and implementation process, which we have been a part of from the start. Just as importantly, our team loves working with this group of people, who are some of the friendliest and hardest working that you’ll meet.
  1. State of New York. This client marks Panorama’s foray into government consulting. The state has essentially outsourced their business processes to our team to help them process ongoing claims related to Hurricane Sandy – another client with a purpose that goes well beyond basic ERP. This client has also enabled us to apply our ERP project management, business process reengineering and organizational change competencies in a different way.
  1. Our ERP expert witness clients. Although we can’t mention any of them by name due to confidentiality limitations, our 25+ ERP expert witness clients have been instrumental to who we’ve become over the last 10 years. These engagements have given us a front-row seat to some of the world’s highest profile ERP failures involving SAP, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics and other ERP systems. These clients have allowed us to improve on our own ERP processes and methodologies. It has also served as a constant reminder to us how challenging and risky ERP implementations can be.

Although we have many more clients that I would love to include here, I want to reach out and say thank you for helping us become the company that we are today. At the end of the day, we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for these and our other 300 clients, so we appreciate their business, loyalty and referrals to other new clients.

Ten years!! Feels great! Take a look at our client testimonials to see what our clients have to say about us.

YouTube: How to Perform Business Process Mapping

One of the benefits of business process reengineering is the opportunity to improve inefficient processes that are costing your organization money. Mapping key business processes helps your organization identify exactly how processes should be improved to measurably streamline operations.

Watch this webinar clip for a high-level overview of how to perform business process mapping for your organization.

The full webinar is available here: Business Process Reengineering: A Key Component of ERP ROI.

For more YouTube videos and webinar clips, visit our YouTube Channel.

YouTube: Maintaining Your Competitive Advantage Through Business Process Reengineering

Some executives believe that they need to evaluate, redesign and reengineer their entire business prior to selecting and implementing a new ERP system. This is not the case.

Watch this webinar clip to learn the value of focusing on business processes that offer your organization competitive advantage.

The full webinar is available here: Business Process Reengineering: A Key Component of ERP ROI.

For more YouTube videos and webinar clips, visit our YouTube Channel.

Five Reasons to Select a New ERP System Now Rather than Later

Five Reasons to Select a New ERP System Now Rather than Later

Organizations stuck on old, outdated legacy systems often deal with the pain of manual and inefficient processes for years before they finally make a change. Our average client has been using their current system for 12 to 15 years – dealing with inefficiencies building over that time.

Employees often aren’t in a huge hurry to change anything. They simply get used to the challenges and limitations of their old systems. Initiating change often requires an outside perspective to provide a wakeup call or some sort of operational emergency to force the organization to change. However, good business sense suggests that earlier is better when determining timing for a new ERP system.

Assuming you foresee new ERP software in your future, here are five reasons why selecting and implementing a new ERP system makes more sense to do now instead of later:

1. You are leaving too much money on the table. Chances are, your organization is wasting a lot of money on inefficient business processes, poor customer service, employee stress and turnover and other hard-to-quantify but not-so-hidden costs of broken legacy systems.

2. There are too many good ERP software options available. Back when you chose and implemented your current ERP system, you probably didn’t have many options, and you definitely didn’t have as many options as you have now. SaaS ERP systems, niche solutions, best of breed software and two-tier deployment models are just a few examples of what is available to enterprise software buyers. Along with this proliferation of options comes lower costs and more financial flexibility that translates to a better return on your ERP investment.

3. Your organization can’t grow or scale effectively without a new system. Most organizations are struggling to find sources of growth and don’t need any additional headwinds to slow their progress. Even when demand for your product or service is strong, the last thing you need is an operational framework that can’t deliver to that demand. Think about how a new ERP system – along with more efficient business processes and employees – would enable your organization to scale and grow faster.

4. Your operational breaking point is probably just around the corner. We occasionally work with the unfortunate client that has waited too long to replace their enterprise solutions and the results aren’t pretty. Although the pressures and limitations of your current system may have been survivable for some time, you will eventually reach a breaking point where you simply can’t continue with the old system. By correcting this situation, you can avoid putting your team under the gun to implement a new solution quickly, which doesn’t allow time for change management or business process reengineering.

5. Morale and productivity is suffering. The stories of what people deal with in their current working environment are sometimes comical. However, these pain points undoubtedly have a very real impact on your overall employee morale, which is inevitably undermining your bottom line. Everyone’s morale and job satisfaction – including yours – will increase exponentially once you have a new ERP system in place to address some of those issues.

If you know you’re nearing the end of your current system’s lifespan, then getting started on an ERP implementation now will increase your bottom line, allowing your organization to grow and mitigate risk. In addition, it will give you ample time to select and implement the best ERP system for your organization.

5 Tips for Increasing Business Process Efficiency

5 Tips for Increasing Business Process Efficiency

Most organizations implement new ERP systems largely because they want to improve the efficiency of their business processes. Broken processes, manual workarounds and outdated legacy systems all contribute to the need to enhance operational processes as part of an ERP implementation.

The challenge is that many organizations don’t realize meaningful business process improvements after their ERP implementations. These organizations fail to conduct business process reengineering in a meaningful way. Here are a few best practices to ensure your ERP implementation leads to better business processes:

Don’t pave the cowpaths. When a project becomes rushed or you turn over responsibility for business processes to a technical consultant, VAR or system integrator, you are bound to fall into the trap of simply automating existing processes. Instead, take the time up front to define how your business processes should look post implementation rather than diving straight into the process of configuring and implementing the new software.

Take the time up front to define your to-be business processes. Selecting a new ERP system can be very exciting. Once the new software is identified, it can be awfully tempting to jump right into implementation. However, as noted in the first point above, taking too little time on this activity will leave business process optimization to your technical consultants.

Don’t fall into the “software will tell us how to run our business” trap. Time and time again, organizations fall for the ERP vendor sales message that software will tell you how new business processes should look. Today’s ERP systems are too robust and flexible to provide easy answers on how business processes should be run. This makes it vital to take the time to define business processes before the implementation begins. Same goes for industry pre-configurations and software best practices: they are myths that will not enable you to optimize your business processes.

Don’t forget about organizational change management. New and improved business processes don’t mean much if your employees aren’t executing the new processes. Even the best designed software in the world won’t matter if users are still reverting back to their Excel spreadsheets and manual workarounds. For this reason, organizational change management, communications and training is critical to ensuring that you design more efficient business processes. We have seen many technical consultants and project teams spend too much time configuring software, but not nearly enough time defining how those changes will impact employees and what their new roles and responsibilities should be.

Constantly improve your business processes. Business process reengineering shouldn’t be a one-time activity. Instead, it is an activity that should continue beyond go-live. Some of our most successful clients instituted centers of excellence within their organizations to help ensure that this ongoing mentality of process improvement was adhered to. This also ensures that your operations stay aligned with your ERP system (and vice versa), which will ultimately lead to your team getting more benefit out of your ERP investment. Organizations that follow these simple best practices will find that process improvement is possible. With all the money organizations spend on new ERP systems, this extra little bit of time and investment will ensure that you realize a positive ROI on your ERP implementation.

Schedule a Free 30-minute Consultation With a Digital Transformation Expert!

The Importance of Independence in ERP Software Selection

Group of Multiethnic Busy People Working in an OfficeERP software selection intimidates many organizations. One of the most challenging aspects of an ERP implementation is selecting software that supports your organization’s business processes and helps your organization achieve measurable improvements. Even more challenging? Finding a truly independent ERP consultant to help you through the process.

When selecting enterprise software that meets your organization’s business requirements, it helps to seek advice from an independent third-party with a breadth of knowledge about all potential ERP vendors. A partner with a technical implementation focus or a practice related to a particular vendor might lack both this breadth of knowledge and the objectivity necessary for ERP success. On the other hand, a partner with a vendor-agnostic approach will be more equipped to provide your organization with a thorough ERP provider assessment.

In the consulting world, “independent” refers to the level of association a firm has with specific ERP vendors. If a firm is independent that means that it has no association with specific vendors and, therefore, no potential for conflicts of interest.

Independent ERP consultants have a different revenue model than software-specific consultants. Because they don’t profit from selling as much software as possible, independent consultants can focus on the true needs of their customers and help them select the “best fit” software – not the software that will lead to the most follow-on work. Independent consultants do not encourage the selection of a particular software system merely because it contributes to their own bottom line.

When it comes down to it, an independent consultant should not necessarily recommend that your organization implements ERP software in the first place. If your organization’s business processes are not optimized, an independent consultant likely will not recommend an ERP software package until those processes are evaluated and, if necessary, reengineered at a high level. Because independent consultants don’t make money from software sales, there is no conflict of interest when determining whether or not your business is ready for ERP. They understand that no ERP system, no matter how advanced, automatically fixes inefficient business processes. This is why many independent consultants emphasize the importance of focusing on business process reengineering and organizational change management before software selection.

Selecting the right ERP software requires the unbiased advice of a firm that wants to see your organization succeed – not just spend money. An independent ERP consulting firm, like Panorama, has the expertise necessary to guide your organization through a successful and unbiased software selection. Our approach is based on our extensive research revealing the difficulty of ERP selection and pointing to the necessity of independence.

To learn more download our white paper, Guide to Choosing an ERP Implementation Partner.

YouTube: 10 ERP Selection Tips From the Pros at Panorama – Part 5

YouTube: 10 ERP Selection Tips From the Pros at Panorama – Part 5

This webinar clip will explore the ways companies can evaluate and find the right ERP software for their organizations. Hosted by January Paulk, Director of Client Services at Panorama, this is a must-see for any organization looking to select new ERP software. This is the last part of a five part series.

The full webinar recording is available here: ERP Software Selection Success: 10 Tips From the Pros at Panorama.

For more YouTube videos and webinar clips, visit our YouTube Channel.

Is a Best-of-Breed ERP System the Right Choice for Your Organization?

If you could combine all of your favorite dog breeds into one loveable canine, you’d have a mutt. If you combined your favorite modules from various ERP vendors, you’d create a lovable ERP system – better known as a best-of-breed ERP system within the software industry.

Small- to mid-sized businesses looking for lower-cost ERP solutions, often turn to niche ERP vendors who offer solutions for specific industries. While your organization may not want to implement a full ERP system, you should consider the long-term possibility of growth and the inevitable need for integration. Best-of-breed ERP systems encompass a variety of specialized functions from a variety of specialized vendors, all of which need to be integrated.

Following are some advantages and disadvantages of best-of-breed ERP systems:

Advantages:

  • Usually costs less than a full ERP system
  • More opportunity for differentiation among competitors
  • Strong, in-depth functionality within each module

Disadvantages:

  • Can result in inconsistent information across departments
  • Takes time to integrate
  • May have to implement a full ERP system down the road to accomodate corporate growth

Selecting best-of-breed software involves many choices. To expediate the process, your organization should begin by identifying its competitive advantage. For areas of competitive advantage, your organization should consider a variety of vendors in order to find the best module for each particular function. Your organization can house more basic functions, such as HR and accounting, in a single ERP system.

Best-of-breed ERP software is not right for every organization. It’s important to consider your organization’s long-term goals. Learn more about your ERP options by registering for our ERP Vendor Showdown.

YouTube: 10 ERP Selection Tips From the Pros at Panorama – Part 4

YouTube: 10 ERP Selection Tips From the Pros at Panorama – Part 4

This webinar clip will explore the ways companies can evaluate and find the right ERP software for their organizations. Hosted by January Paulk, Director of Client Services at Panorama, this is a must-see for any organization looking to select new ERP software. This is the fourth part of a five part series. Check back next Thursday for the last installment of this mini series.

The full webinar recording is available here: ERP Software Selection Success: 10 Tips From the Pros at Panorama.

For more YouTube videos and webinar clips, visit our YouTube Channel.

YouTube: 10 ERP Selection Tips From the Pros at Panorama – Part 3

YouTube: 10 ERP Selection Tips From the Pros at Panorama – Part 3

This webinar clip will explore the ways companies can evaluate and find the right ERP software for their organizations. Hosted by January Paulk, Director of Client Services at Panorama, this is a must-see for any organization looking to select new ERP software. This is the third part of a five part series. Check back next Thursday for the next installment of this mini series.

The full webinar recording is available here: ERP Software Selection Success: 10 Tips From the Pros at Panorama.

For more YouTube videos and webinar clips, visit our YouTube Channel.

YouTube: 10 ERP Selection Tips From the Pros at Panorama – Part 2

This webinar clip will explore the ways companies can evaluate and find the right ERP software for their organizations. Hosted by January Paulk, Director of Client Services at Panorama, this is a must-see for any organization looking to select new ERP software. This is the second part of a five part series. Check back next Thursday for the next installment of this mini series.

The full webinar recording is available here: ERP Software Selection Success: 10 Tips From the Pros at Panorama.

For more YouTube videos and webinar clips, visit our YouTube Channel.

YouTube: 10 ERP Selection Tips From the Pros at Panorama – Part 1

This webinar clip will explore the ways companies can evaluate and find the right ERP software for their organizations. Hosted by January Paulk, Director of Client Services at Panorama, this is a must-see for any organization looking to select new ERP software. This is the first part of a five part series. Check back next Thursday for the next installment of this mini series.

The full webinar recording is available here: ERP Software Selection Success: 10 Tips From the Pros at Panorama.

For more YouTube videos and webinar clips, visit our YouTube Channel.

Tuesday Poll: ERP Benefits Realization

According to our 2014 ERP Report, only 80% of organizations realized some business benefits after ERP go-live. Of those organizations, 66% realized less than half of their expected benefits. What percentage of expected business benefits has your organization realized? Take a moment to vote in our poll and then check back to review the overall results.

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Tuesday Poll: What system is your new ERP replacing?

According to our 2014 ERP Report, of all the ERP systems that were purchased by organizations, 43% replaced an out-of-date ERP solution, 20% replaced a non-ERP system, 17% replaced a homegrown system, and 3% replaced a paper-based system. What system is your organization’s new ERP software replacing? Take a moment to vote in our poll and then check back to review the overall results.

[poll id=”86″]

A Solid Upgrade Strategy is an ERP Software Requirement

iStock_000020614256MediumIn a world that is constantly changing, a strong ERP software upgrade strategy is no longer a “nice to have,” but a “must have.” However in the world of ERP, “upgrade” can be a downright frightening word. Historically, ERP upgrades have been expensive, challenging and a high risk for companies. If your company makes a major or minor customization to their ERP system, the upgrade path can be incredibly difficult and costly. Often, it takes a team of highly compensated consultants and programmers spending months, and tens of thousands of dollars, to make your previous customizations compatible with new software releases. Therefore, many companies stick to their old versions, trying to avoid a huge headache and the risk of potential failure.

I would counter your fear with this—you can expect an upgrade strategy that is easier, less expensive and risk-free. Twenty-four hour upgrade guarantees, annual review and optimization of software, and the ability to maintain customizations even after the upgrade are not just a dream in your CTO’s head, but a reality with certain ERP software vendors. Believe it or not, there are companies out there who are taking advantage of their ERP software provider’s latest functionality and technology while maintaining customizations made 10+ years ago.

Keep in mind, delaying an ERP upgrade poses its own set of risks since no features and functions are added, new regulations are ignored, and the company runs on outdated technology. An annual ERP software upgrade allows you to support future functionalities that will yield business benefits and provide new opportunities for integration with internal or external operations or applications. Upgrades can include the ability to meet compliance with value-chain standards, regulatory requirements and various local regulations.

So, when researching ERP providers, exercise due diligence by asking the following questions related to their upgrade strategy:

  • How often do you review and update your product, i.e. release a new version of your software? Your ERP software should change with you as your products, markets, strategies and competition changes. For example, a multi-tiered architecture allows you to write your business rules into the system easily and adapt easily to new demands. Your ERP vendor should have a plan for their software to be reviewed and optimized. That way you know that with every new version of your ERP software, you will get added functionality that will make your business more competitive.
  • What is the average version of your software that your current customers are using? Studies have shown that ERP software users who are using the most recent version of their ERP software are 80-percent more satisfied than those using older versions. That’s huge! So why do ERP software prospects almost never ask this question? Change that trend and ask the question!
  • How long does your typical upgrade take? Software upgrades are an everyday part of an ERP vendor’s business. Each vendor has their process for upgrades and will always share “best case scenario” outcomes with their prospective customers.  Take it one step further and ask about a guarantee.  “Can you guarantee an upgrade will be complete within XX days of starting?”
  • What happens to modifications or customizations when an upgrade is executed? Choosing an ERP software that is flexible with a multi-tiered architecture makes it possible to guarantee users the most updated technology year-over-year. Since the flexibility allows upgrades to be done step by step throughout various departments without touching the kernel or source code, a heavily customized system should not present risks for its users and modifications will stay in place during and after the upgrade is complete.

The point to be made is that you can embrace the idea of an ERP software upgrade path. Upgrades allow you to support future functionalities that will yield business benefits and provide new opportunities for integration with internal or external operations or applications. You will be better positioned to stay competitive and responsive, enabling rapid growth in fast-expanding industries.


Note: The inclusion of guest posts on the Panorama website does not imply endorsement of any specific product or service. Panorama is, and always will remain, completely independent and vendor-neutral.

If you are interested in guest blogging opportunities, click to read more about our submission guidelines.