Many ERP vendors will tell you that defining future state business processes is the key to ERP success. They say that ERP success is all about throwing out current state business processes and adopting new processes supported by their ERP software. While this may sound appealing, this strategy will most likely leave your organization with an out-of-the-box ERP system that dictates all of your business processes – even those that served as differentiators and offered your organization competitive advantage.

In contrast to many ERP vendors, experienced and knowledgeable ERP consultants believe that the definition and mapping of current state business processes should drive an ERP implementation. Organizations that understand their current state are better able to increase buy-in among end-users by communicating how new ERP software will make employees’ jobs easier. Mapping current state business processes also helps organizations define exactly whom the new software will impact and how they will be impacted.

To some extent, both ERP vendors and ERP consultants are right. Organizations should clearly define both current and future state business processes in order to identify how ERP software will support their business. But it’s easy to get so carried away with future state processes that your organization forgets to define its current processes.

Successful ERP implementations are not driven by software but by business processes – namely the current state business processes that offer your organization competitive advantage. The “best practices” promoted by an ERP vendor are not necessarily best practices for your business. Rather, they are best practices for that particular software package or industry vertical and they likely will not contribute to your organization’s competitive advantage. Think about how many other organizations are using that same software and those same “best practices!”

Before selecting ERP software, your organization should define current state business processes and high-level business requirements without regard to specific software functionality. This helps you identify process gaps and non-value added work and lays the groundwork for business process reengineering. Based on current business processes, your organization can use a business blueprint to design the architecture of future state processes and guide software selection, configuration and customization. Blueprinting should be performed at a technology-agnostic level that does not yet address how processes will be completed within a specific ERP system.

Mapping current state business processes drives every phase of implementation from selection to business process reengineering to organizational change management. While organizations should let go of inefficient and non-value added business processes, they should keep the current state business processes that work. To learn more, watch our free, on-demand webinar, Business Process Reengineering: A Key Component of ERP ROI.

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