The business world is now over twenty years into the adoption of what today we call ERP systems – Enterprise Resource Planning. The term ERP is actually derived from its predecessor – MRP, or Material Requirements Planning systems. The term is said to have been coined by someone at The Gartner Group around 1990 as an extension of MRP intended to encompass a larger vision of the organization as a whole.
A survey conducted a while ago by Thomas Wailgum of IDG Communications noted that CIOs indicated that ERP systems were “essential to the core of their businesses, and that they could not live without them,” as noted in a recent white paper from an outfit called Edgewater Technology.
But as also has been often noted, many of these systems have grown out of date and long in the tooth. Some still harken back to the old green-screen days, and a good number of companies today still run on antiquated (and increasingly more difficult to maintain) systems like the AS/400 and other legacy platforms. In many cases, these systems’ shortcomings, cost and complexity can often work against the very efficiency goals they were once meant to improve.
If you are among these dinosaurs, we’ve found a few questions from others (but with which we concur and often ask them of clients ourselves) that you might want to ask of your own organization, like…
Should you continue with your current system?… Is it time to upgrade?… Is it time to change?
Following are a few questions from a white paper from Edgewater Fullscope (a software reseller with offices in the southeastern U.S.) that we thought provides a good starting point for looking at how effective your current information and reporting system is.
- Are you getting the reports and information you need to run your business effectively?
- Can users run their own reports queries or do they need to turn to IT for support?
- If so, what are those costs in terms of time and labor to develop these custom reports and inquires?
- How easily can you access reports and inquires?
- How easily can you export them to desktop applications like MS Excel?
- Is the information you’re getting real-time, actionable, and easy to understand?
There are many more similar questions you could ask, and there is a lot more drilling down to the fundamental WHY questions that are so important in this process. But we think Edgewater’s questions are a good start.
Companies who are not satisfied with their answers are ripe for a doing a little self-examination. That’s best done when assisted by competent subject matter experts from outside the firm who are well-versed in asking – and help you answer – those questions.
But until you start asking and analyzing, and then reviewing processes and conducting a fit/gap analysis, you may only be extending your current pain, and not moving toward a better solution.