Remember Y2K, the much-anticipated and wildly-feared turn of the millennium that sent us all filling our bathtubs and plundering the grocery stores for canned goods? If your ERP system does too, it may be time for an overhaul.
The Y2K reference is significant, given that it was this global event that provided the last widespread impetus for businesses to regard their ERP systems with an eye for refurbishment. Lots of organizations, in those last panic-filled months of the century, raced into major ERP implementations they hoped would provide a safeguard against all manner of unknowns.
It was a time before Facebook, before wifi, before any but meteorologists were concerned with the “cloud.” With that in mind, companies need to consider how that software — now more than a decade old — is serving them today. How valid is it now, in a business environment that has evolved considerably in the time since we emptied our tubs?
Here are the key questions businesses should reflect on:
1. Can your organization’s various functions speak to one another? Is there a link between your customer sales orders, for example, and your accounting system? Is the status of your shipping activity automatically updated in your general ledger? Is your purchasing activity integrated with your accounts payable system?
Is your legacy system inextricably tied with another time and place? This can include another person (the staffer who implemented it, perhaps, long gone from your reach). Was it meticulously customized to meet your needs at the time; if so, are those needs still relevant?
2.Are you making provisions (and even apologies) for an out-of-date system? And is success on these fronts more often in spite of your old-fashioned ERP infrastructure, and not because of it?
3.Are you overwhelmed with the sheer amount of data your ERP system oversees? Have the years of blindly amassing stuff, without the means to efficiently purge or even archive it, left you with a surfeit of bytes too unwieldy to effectively manage within current conditions?
4.Does your system provide you with an updated view of your current status? Does, for example, your material planning process automatically include refreshed actual and projected sales orders? Are key performance indicators and job status on the shop floor reflected in real time?
5.Are you in step with your customers and suppliers? Or do you have to bend over backwards and launch into patch mode in order to simply integrate with the rest of the world? Are there occasions when you have to acknowledge an inherent inability to communicate with these progressives whatsoever?
6.Are your key management reports the spreadsheet product of a mishmash of legacy systems in constant need of manual manipulation? Do you find yourself training new hires on ancient systems that a voice in the back of your mind shames you for still having in place?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, change could do your company good.