Have you ever considered that your enterprise software strategy may be hurting your business more than it is helping? Most of us focus on the potential business benefits of leveraging enterprise systems, but few consider that we may be undermining our more noble intentions.
With all the industry hype around various types of ERP and CRM systems in the market, perhaps this isn’t such an odd question after all. CIOs and CFOs are often lured into making large software purchases without having a clear direction or reason for doing so. A compelling quarter-end financial incentive from a software sales rep – coupled with one or two irrational reasons for making the purchase in the first place – can be enough to entice an executive team into a poorly-thought-out decision.
The Cost of Not Having a Well-defined Enterprise Software Strategy
One of the challenges with enterprise software is that these systems are all encompassing. In other words, organizations are rarely able to implement the full functionality and benefits of their enterprise solution within a reasonable timeframe. With that said, project teams often do not consider their plan for systems outside of the phase being considered – even if they know that they will someday need or want that extended functionality.
For example, let’s say that your organization has multiple broken systems and processes, but your CRM software is the low-hanging fruit that you will tackle within the next 12 months. How will you address the other systems outside of CRM? How will the systems integrate with one another? When will you address those other areas? While you may not implement anything outside of CRM anytime soon, you will still want to know how the various systems will be addressed over time. Otherwise, you will lose quite a bit in terms of a cohesive set of systems.
Flawed or Incomplete Enterprise Strategies can Back you Into a Corner
Similarly, another common pitfall is choosing and implementing an ERP system that not only fails to consider an overall enterprise strategy, but also threatens to limit your options in the future.
Sticking with the CRM example above, let’s say your organization opts to select and implement Salesforce as its CRM software of choice. While this is typically considered the gold standard of standalone CRM systems, we have seen many companies limit their abilities by implementing the software in a vacuum because they didn’t consider how other systems would be addressed.
Salesforce is a SaaS-based system, which doesn’t always integrate well with other systems – especially some of your older legacy solutions. Decisions like this can actually limit your options going forward so it is important to align your short-term tactics with your longer-term strategies.
Enterprise Software Strategies Should Include People and Processes as Well
An enterprise software strategy without a focus on people and processes isn’t an effective strategy. Organizations need a well-defined plan to translate their defined strategy into reality, so it is vital to define your strategies and tactics for addressing the organizational change management and business process reengineering aspects of your enterprise software strategy. Without this angle, you will be setting yourself up to heavily invest in new technologies without the benefits and ROI of actual improved business results.
Your enterprise software strategy should define how you plan to tackle opportunities for business process improvements as well as which key organizational change tactics you will leverage to enable the system and process enhancements resulting from your overarching strategy. It may seem more intuitive to myopically focus on the technical aspects of your strategy, but the people and process aspects of your strategy is where the rubber meets the road.
Your goal should be twofold. First, you should make sure that your strategy isn’t so incomplete or ineffective that it actually hurts your bottom line. More importantly, you should define and execute your enterprise software strategy in a way that enables measurable business results and bottom line improvements.
Learn more about creating an enterprise software strategy for your organization by registering for tomorrow’s webinar, How to Define the Best IT and ERP Strategy Roadmap for Your Organization.