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Once organizations have an ERP system up and running, they tend to heave a big sigh of relief and back-burner it for months, quarters or even years. It’s a natural tendency: ERP implementations take time and resources away from critical areas of the business. Once the system is functional, it can seem to fade into the woodwork as new and ever-more pressing matters take precedence. Smart organizations, however, realize that ignoring the usage and functionality of their ERP software — even if it’s shiny, new and updated to the latest version — can be fraught with peril. As time moves on, business needs shift and new employees replace the originally trained staff. The ERP system that was once so relevant may fade into obsolescence without anyone really noticing or doing anything to stop the downward slide. This is where ERP system usage audits come into play.

An ERP system usage audit is an outstanding tool to track performance against pre-defined KPIs, mitigate risks before they become problems, and solve user issues in a way that both increases use and positions organizations to receive benefits from that use. A true audit looks at the system from every conceivable angle, including:

1. Areas of functionality that are not being used effectively (or have since been added to the ERP solution and could be of benefit)

2. The quantity and usage of licenses

3. The user experience with the ERP software, including the support and training provided

4. Workarounds created by the users to add needed functionality

5.  Overall fit of the software to the organization and its needs as well as areas in need of customization

6. Usage, reliability and trust of data conversion and inputs

7. Alignment of software with business processes and areas in which business processes could be standardized or adjusted

8. ERP system vulnerability and areas of risk

9. ERP system usage discipline and controls

10. Efficacy of the disaster recovery plan

Though the information unearthed might be a bit unsettling to organizations who thought they were “over and done” with ERP issues, it is invaluable to those who want to ensure they are getting the best ROI possible. By defining, among other things, training needs, business process improvement opportunities, and operational functions that could be better handled in the ERP system, an ERP audit gives organizations a clear roadmap to increased ERP success.

Have you recently implemented an ERP system? If so, we’d love to hear your take on it. Please take ten minutes to anonymously fill out our 2012 Benchmark Survey so that we might include your experiences in our research reports and white papers.