Managing Change With Enterprise Resource Planning Software

Most ERP systems are designed to fulfill the majority of a business's needs - as captured at a single point in time. The inventory of business processes is typically impressive in its complexity and completeness, and the ERP system installed may be counted on to reliably trudge along its pre-determined path for years. It's an idea that seems comforting: "We'll get all our processes figured out – we'll follow best practices – we'll use enterprise resource planning to fix everything once and for all."

It is a noble goal but it overlooks an important reality for many organizations: things change. That snapshot of the business when its ERP system was first implemented is remarkably different from the business's state a few years later. Indeed, sometimes it takes only a matter of months to render that snapshot as quaintly dated as an old box of Polaroids in the basement. The days of trying to cast business processes in stone are a thing of the past for most companies. There are simply too many pressures, both internal and external, to expect any kind of rigid business process management software to keep up. Mergers and acquisitions, re-organizations, compliance management can all play havoc with the status-quo.

Certainly that's the findings of CFO Research Services in their paper The High Cost of Change for ERP. One-third of the polled finance executive said "their companies have reconfigured their entire ERP system, entailing system-wide modification". They also report that "many mid size companies spend more than $1 million a year to continue to modify and update their ERP systems." Note that this is not part of standard maintenance; these expenses are on top of anticipated maintenance.

Does it make sense to implement an enterprise resource planning system with such a short expiry date? Not really but companies resigned to the substantial spend of regularly re-tooling their ERP systems may feel trapped and without options. Change is inevitable and so is ERP system spend when you are dealing with enterprise management software that isn't architect for change.

There is an alternative enterprise resource planning solution from Agresso, well-known in Europe and establishing a quickly growing presence in North America. Agresso Business World was specifically designed to address frequent, ongoing change and the company is targeting organizations it calls Businesses Living in Change (BLINC). Regardless of the vertical market sector, any organizations that operate in an evolving environment, or need to respond to the unexpected share a common requirement: agility. In particular, they require post-implementation agility - the ability to make changes quickly and easily after their ERP system implementation is complete.

Boasting a unique architecture, this enterprise resource planning software allows business users, rather than ERP systems consultants or IT resources, to effect changes in the ERP system, directly in the graphical user interface. It is Agresso's unique "VITA architecture" that enables true post-implementation agility and it is this capability that differentiates Agresso's ERP software system from the crowd. VITA combines the data, process and information delivery models into a single cohesive unit. Make a change in any one of these areas and it automatically and intelligently flows throughout the system, making all associated changes and adjustments. The change does not need to be redone or re-checked for accuracy anywhere else. And that makes change fast, easy, inexpensive and non-disruptive.

Agresso offers a fully integrated suite of enterprise resource planning capabilities, including Financial Management, Planning, Budgeting & Forecasting, Procurement Management, Human Resources and Payroll, Project Costing and Billing, Business Process Automation, Field Service Management & Automation and Reporting & Analytics.

For organizations that need enterprise resource planning software capable of adapting to their needs over the long term, they need to ask some hard questions of their ERP systems vendors. Determining the total cost of ownership is critical but simple maintenance and support costs are only half the equation when it comes to enterprise management software. A better metric is, according to Brian Somner of TechVentive is the "Total Cost of Change". This more realistic view goes beyond license, maintenance and upgrade costs; it considers the substantial costs of accommodating business change scenarios in the ERP system.

Any organization facing frequent, ongoing change - especially organizations that accept and embrace this reality - should be talking to Agresso about their enterprise resource planning solution. There is substantial money to be saved, considerable disruption to be avoided, and business opportunities to be seized with an ERP system like Agresso. Agile organizations need agile enterprise resource planning, and Agresso uniquely fits the bill.

No comments: