“It’s hard to keep up with the technology these days.” I can guarantee you have heard that phrase in the last many years. Technology is ever-evolving and with the multitude of technology options available in the enterprise software market today, there comes an even greater plethora of potential strategies to consider. Unfortunately, many organizations struggle with this complex and constantly changing landscape.
For example, some organizations assume they need to consider SAP vs. Oracle vs. Microsoft Dynamics as their only decision point. However, these organizations fail to realize that there are options well beyond these three to consider: SaaS vs. on premise, single ERP vs. best of breed, Tier II alternatives and a host of other variables are often overlooked by organizations and the biased ERP vendors they are evaluating.
A solid ERP and IT strategy is the best way to mitigate some of these risks. Below are five common pitfalls to be aware of when defining your strategy:
1. Failing to consider all of your digital transformation options. As mentioned above, the enterprise technology world has evolved from a handful of Tier I ERP vendors to a wide variety of options. In addition to single ERP systems, organizations now have viable industry-specific and Tier II solutions at their disposal, specific point solutions focused on certain functions (such as Salesforce and other standalone CRM systems), eCommerce systems, mobile solutions and a host of other options. An effective IT strategy will consider the pros and cons of these various options.
2. Neglecting areas beyond the technical aspects of your strategy. It can be easy to get caught up in the various technologies without considering the people and process aspects of your strategy. The best strategies we define with our clients are those that consider how business process reengineering, organizational change management and other critical aspects of a technology initiative can enable the overarching digital transformation. In fact, these people and process issues are clearly the most important aspect of any transformation.
3. Inadequate view of the longer-term horizon. Too often, organizations back themselves into a corner by rushing to a short-term technology decision without considering the longer-term consequences. For example, when facing short-term budgetary constraints, one of our recent clients selected and implemented a CRM system without considering how it might fit into their longer enterprise technology plan. By the time they asked us to help determine their longer-term strategy, they had severely limited their options due to the inability of that system to integrate well with their preferred ERP system. Be sure to have a clear strategy before embarking on short-term initiatives.
4. Biased view of technology options. When reaching out to sales reps from specific technology vendors, you have to remember that their best interests are to sell you more of their solutions rather than the best solution for you. We commonly see this in the ERP software space – an ERP sales rep wants to sell you their eCommerce, CRM, warehouse management and hosting solutions without considering which might be better suited for your overall needs. It is important to recognize that just because the same vendor is providing you different technologies doesn’t mean that it will integrate any better or be a better fit than others. Be sure to get an unbiased view of your various options to you are getting an objective assessment of your needs.
5. Unrealistic expectations on how to execute the strategy. A well-defined strategy is meaningless without a realistic expectation of how it will be executed. We find that most enterprise software failures stem from unrealistic expectations regarding budget, time, and resources, so it is important to objectively define what those needs will be. Only then can you confidently win the approval and buy-in of your management team and board – and deliver to those expectations.
While it can be challenging to “keep up with technology,” honestly, the best way to do it is by bringing in experienced people to help. You never know what you don’t know until a project like this blows up in your face.