As a mother of an avid horse rider, I have noticed a development where horses are now being bred to be far more athletic. In the ‘old days’, the preferred showjumping warmblood breeds had stronger hind legs to handle the propulsion of the jumps. Lately, the horses have been cross-bred with lighter more athletic breeds, resulting in a winning combination of strength and stealth. Simultaneously, horse riding equipment is continuously evolving to enable maximum performance and efficiency, with minimal impact on the horse.
Like this sport, a parallel can be drawn to technologies used in business, such as Enterprise Resource Planning systems. An ERP system should be dynamic, continuously evolving, and improving as new business strategies and emerging technologies are introduced to the market.
With a good ERP system implemented a business should not be concerned about the system keeping up with technology trends; however, as the technology evolves, so should people and processes. In other words, if manufacturers and distributors don’t take the opportunity to grow their knowledge and stay up to date with the latest industry developments, and process improvements, they may lose out on their competitive advantage. In addition, by not remaining current and embracing the new features and technologies, they will not be able to reap all of the rewards and return on investment in the latest releases of their current systems.
The barriers to implementation success
According to the Panorama 2018 ERP report, organizational and people issues are the number one reason why most ERP implementations take more time and money than expected. Besides this being true for new implementations, in my role as Customer Experience Officer at SYSPRO, I have often seen this in existing sites.
In ‘system scenarios’, I have seen how longstanding customers have used the same ERP version for decades but won’t upgrade because of the philosophy of ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it’. Instead of upgrading their ERP, they tend to incorporate add-ons and customizations, which makes upgrading at a later stage very difficult. In this scenario, people tend to shy away from change or are scared to upgrade due to past experiences and the turmoil involved.
In ‘people scenarios’, where businesses have a long-standing ERP system, I have observed that when their team grows or they lose staff and then employ new users, they get minimal system training. These new staff members have little understanding (beyond what they need to do on a daily basis) of what the ERP system can offer. With each transition of staff, they lose more understanding of the system capability, and the business experiences application erosion, a term used to describe “the reduced use of software functionality over time, that leads decision-makers to think that their current software applications are incapable of handling operations and reporting requirements of the organization”.
The third scenario is ‘process alignment’. When organizations first implement an ERP system, they discuss their current processes (AS IS) and what they would like to achieve (TO BE). Sometimes the implementation only achieves some of the TO BE, with future plans to complete the rest, when convenient or new features become available. This is not always completed. Then when upgrading to a new version of the software, they want to get the upgrade done as quickly and painlessly as possible, without reviewing their existing processes and how they can be streamlined to utilize the system improvements.
Here are 3 ways to overcome these challenges and drive full value out of your ERP investment by empowering your people:
1. Create seekers of value
The first solution is to ensure that you recognize and empower ‘Seekers of Value’ within your organization. These people are usually in a senior position and understand your organization’s vision and future plans, keeps up to speed on developments in the current systems being utilized, stays in touch with the latest emerging technologies, and who is not afraid to explore something new. They will enable the business to grow and remain competitive.
2. Businesses should learn from their peers
Another great way to maximize the value of your ERP investment is through understanding how other people are utilizing the system to overcome challenges or adopting new technologies. This can be achieved by joining a forum or ERP user group, reading case studies, or attending webinars. These forums and user groups act as a platform for like-minded business leaders to engage directly around upcoming technologies, market trends, and industry concerns. SYSPRO recently initiated user groups in many regions for our customers to collaborate, share ideas, and collectively learn. For many years the forum on the InfoZone has seen active participation from customers, partners, and SYSPRO personal, in solving common challenges. These User Groups and Forums are owned by a customer community to ensure independence and open discussions.
3. Upskill yourself to maximize ROI
It goes without saying that upskilling and training should be the hallmark of a successful organization. According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report, 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025. System users should be incentivized to have a thirst for knowledge and wanting to know more so they can improve and become more efficient in their jobs.
How can an organization know what is available within their ERP system, if they don’t continuously upskill to remain current on existing and new features and functions and areas not previously deployed?
It is therefore crucial for organizational HR and Seekers of value to prioritize skills development in line with changing processes and the rapidly evolving business environment.
As long as businesses empower themselves to change with the times, your ERP will hold many rewards.