Posts Tagged ‘Truths about ERP upgrades’

Rick_Cook_ PicA co-worker passed along a great little article worth reprising in capsule form here today, on the merits and mistaken expectations that come with upgrading your ERP system, which all companies must inevitably do (and which, for many, may we dare suggest, is long overdue).  The comments we reprise today come from an original article by Rick Cook, whose bio notes that he “has been involved with computers since the days of punched cards and magnetic drum memories. He has written hundreds of articles on computers and related technology as well as a series of fantasy novels full of bad computer jokes.”  His article can be found here.

Cook reminds us that ERP systems have a finite lifespan, and typically require upgrading every 5 to 7 years just to keep up with changing tech trends and business practices.  In the long run, he notes, this is good as the upgraded system “will be significantly easier to use and more powerful.  Further, it will provide much greater support in areas such as analytics which are becoming increasingly important in modern business.”

But in the short run?  Not so much, he quips.  There’s all the associated expense and pain, and even if it’s your second (or fifth) upgrade effort, there is still pain and expense associated with the process.

And so, Cook notes, it’s particularly important to approach the process with the right attitude.  You have to manage your collective expectations.  So, Cook says aptly:

“There are two common mistakes in expectations when upgrading your ERP system. The first is expecting a major improvement in business processes without re-engineering the business. The other is to expect the implementation to be an IT project with minimal disruption of the other parts of the business.”

Cook points out what we all should remember: that an ERP upgrade represents a prime opportunity to improve not just your ERP system, but the overall functionality of your entire business.  Take into consideration changes that have occurred within the business since your last upgrade.  Also note the changes that ERP vendors have wrought in term of the huge strides made in improved functionality and features.

As well, be sure to take the time to review your business processes.  An ERP upgrade is the absolutely perfect time to do so.  Too many companies blow this opportunity.  It’s the perfect time to analyze each process and then “lean out” all you can.  You can look at existing procedures and take advantage of new features and advanced capabilities of your new software, and marry them together.

And remember that as processes change, and software too, so do people.  Take time to talk through the changes with your team, and earn the full company buy-in.  Doing so will ensure that you are maximizing that ERP investment and ensuring that in the long run it will have been a very profitable move for the company.  And that, notes Cook, puts you well on the way to a “positive experience for the company.”

We couldn’t have said it better.


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