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Most ERP vendors will tell you that defining future state business processes is the key to ERP success. According to them, ERP success is all about throwing out current state business processes and adopting the new processes that are built into the ERP software. While this may sound quick and easy, this strategy will most likely leave your organization with an out-of-the-box ERP system that dictates all your business processes – even those that used to contribute to your unique operational structure and offered your organization competitive advantage.

Organizational change management and business process management consultants will often tell you that defining current state business processes is the key to ERP success. Understanding the way your organization currently operates will help you explain to employees how a new ERP system can help them better perform their jobs. Your organization can also use current state business process to define exactly whom the new software will impact and how they will be impacted.

To some extent, both ERP vendors and change management 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.

Before software selection, 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.

Developing a business blueprint is an essential component of business process reengineering. Blueprint deliverables hinge upon the definition of current state processes. Based on current business processes, your organization can design the architecture of future state processes to guide ERP software selection, configuration and customization. As is the case with all stages of business process reengineering, 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. To learn more, watch our free, on-demand webinar, Business Process Reengineering: A Key Component of ERP ROI.

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