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I BLOG ERP is my accounting of the advances, obstacles and evolution of the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software industry. As an ERP software consultant and software practitioner who has made my livelihood in the ERP software industry for over 20 years, I follow the market and market players closely. Rather than just regurgitate other publicly available industry information, this web site looks deeper to provide additional perspective, insight, opinion, balance or sometimes the the story behind the story. Much of the less than public content I receive is from web site visitors I have never meant, but with whom I share common interests. If you have first hand knowledge, insight or a thoughtful opinion relevant to any blog post on this site, I'd be very appreciative of your input and perspective. Lets share the knowledge.

Does Strategic ERP Software Take a Back Seat to CRM Software?

As they directly connect your company to your customers, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are often seen as the front line of your business operations. That makes sense.

But what about the other critical IT information systems that hold your business together, like your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) application, which connects you with your vendors, your suppliers and your internal business processes, such as budgeting, strategic planning, inventory management, sales order tracking, accounting, human resources and payroll?

Do your company equally value these critical back office functions, in comparison with all the fan fare surrounding CRM and social CRM (SCRM)? I have a theory about hugely important, established, behind-the-scenes IT systems like ERP applications, which is when we use them for so long that they become as embedded as the office furniture, we tend to forget about them, and similarly forget about their strategic importance and capabilities to support company growth initiatives. They become system commodities that we begin to view as always there. We begin to become complacent so much that we relax our IT focus so we can worry about the next big thing in our IT shops.

ERP software systems, and other back-office business software applications, often don't get attention unless they are failing. We have come to trust these business applications and in so doing give them little regard to advancement, for optimization or for continuous process improvement.

Today's ERP software systems just don't get the media attention, or IT attention, as does CRM software, cloud computing, server virtualization, Green IT, open source software and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). More »

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ERP Tune-Ups for Continuous Process Improvement

Your company's Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is among your key IT resources to automate business processes, streamline transaction processing, shorten business cycles and provide decision makers with business intelligence. So when is the last time you showed your mission critical business system some attention?

Now may be a good time to change that and see what we might be missing in improved performance, wider capabilities and enhanced ease of use by updating, expanding or refining your ERP system. Once ERP applications go live, many companies falsely believe the effort is complete and fail to advance those business systems as the business itself advances. In reality, the ERP go-live event is the start of your journey in leveraging automation and information to grow with your business. Once the ERP system has stabilized, consider the next round of improvements.

Here's a few suggestions to stimulate your thinking for enhancing your ERP system and increasing your IT return on investment. More »

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ERP Systems Require Continuous Investment to Maximize Life & ROI

Incremental ERP Investments Pay Big Dividends

With the complexity, integration, training, expense and long project life cycles that surround Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software deployments, you'd better be confident of your software selection decision, implementation approach and commitment from your ERP vendor. And to protect your investment and maximize ROI, you should also recognize that ERP systems are much like a marriage, in that they require monitoring and continuous investment to keep things from falling apart.

An ERP application is like a long term relationship. There's that "just getting acquainted" period during the software selection project, followed by the commitment when your company negotiates the software license agreement and then the getting hitched event when you receive the software, or possibly get a provisioned ERP system if subscribing to the software as a service (SaaS) model. Then there's the work to maintain a successful relationship. There are highs when the information system works as expected, then there's the times when you wonder if the relationship will survive software bugs, short-falls, interruptions or instability, or you may even question whether it's time to end it and seek a new ERP system.

But if you think it's hard breaking up a human relationship just contemplate changing an ERP system in a company that relies on volumes of transaction processing and information delivery every business day. There's no option to just shut the application down and replace it over a few relaxed months. Just the thought of an ERP software replacement can make many IT and business managers hang on to a badly performing ERP application for far longer than they should simply to avoid the challenges and pain of a new ERP software implementation, or the risks of an ERP implementation failure.

Last week, I traded e-mails with Paul Ritter, an ERP veteran in The Netherlands, who is a senior partner with the Institute for Strategy and Complexity Management, which helps clients deal with problems in their ERP systems and other IT projects. From his work experience, he said, IT leaders are often somehow distanced from the work being done in their corporate ERP operations and deployments. What's missing is "the human factor of ERP projects," he explained. "I have asked a number of my ERP expert colleagues to write down some of their enterprise software project experiences. To my amazement only 1 in 20 was willing or able to write down a minute summary of one of her projects." More »

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When is the Right Time to Hire an ERP Consultant?

Whether your company is selecting an enterprise resource planning (ERP) application for the first time or looking to upgrade or replace a legacy ERP software system, the time will come when you and your team wonder if you have all the necessary information to move forward with what is sure to be a complex and challenging project.

  • Are you getting accurate information from the vendors you are speaking with?
  • Have you found the right vendors to include into your Top 10 list as you aim for the perfect final choice?
  • Are you finding just what you think you need, or incurring surprises?
  • Do you know exactly what features and modules your business really needs?
  • Have you seriously considered the software as a service (SaaS) model?
  • What key ERP facts or points may you have inadvertently left out?

But maybe the best question you can ask yourself: Is it time to find someone who can facilitate, accelerate and add confidence to our decision making process? Experienced and independent consultants can help you, counsel you, guide you and walk you through the ERP maze. Valued consultants require an up front financial investment, but often save money and increase ROI over the long run.

Most business and IT professionals only choose an ERP application once every decade or so, if they are lucky, but consultants work with these business applications every day, so they retain the most current information that could save your project - and your sanity. They'll often able to help you with all the myriad details that you may not know, that you might have already forgotten or that you never knew existed in the first place.

So where do you find good ERP consultants? More »

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ERP Failures Must Be Anticipated

How important is a stable Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to a publicly traded business? Very, especially when it leaves that business stopped cold as the result of a major failure.

That's what seemingly happened to automotive wheel manufacturer, Superior Industries International, which recently experienced ERP application problems that caused the company to delay its second-quarter earnings report as mandated by the SEC, according to an article published in by IDG News Service. Fortunately for Superior, the delay only lasted two days. The results were originally scheduled to be announced on August 11, but instead were released on August 13. So what caused the late reporting and earnings announcement?

"The postponement is the result of delays in finalizing the quarter financial close due, in part, to the recent implementation of a new Enterprise Resource Planning system," the Van Nuys, California-based company said in a statement on August 11 when the earnings call was postponed. "Superior is working to finalize its second quarter results and will provide new dates and times for the earnings release and earnings conference call in a forthcoming news release." More »

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