Dragging Your ERP Systems into the 21st Century

ERP systems play instrumental roles in business processes – but they weren’t designed for the digital age.

Tony Beeston
Tony Beeston, September 25, 2017 2:45 pm
Blog > ERP | Workload Automation | Agile > Dragging Your ERP Systems into the 21st Century

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) faces several key challenges in the modern age. Today’s digital era is defined by many things, including constant innovation, agility and the Internet of Things. However, if there’s one defining trait of the application economy we now live in, it has to be competition.

We have to appreciate we’re living in a more competitive, connected world than ever before. As I’ve stressed countless times, nowadays every organization is driven by software; because every business is now a technology company. However, our ERP systems remain a major part of our technologies, and the fact is they simply weren’t built to cope with the pace of change required of the modern business.

In a world of cloud computing and hybrid environments, ERP systems may appear archaic. They’re predominately based on-premise and weren’t designed for the continual change of modern apps. In short, they simply weren’t built for this age! The problem is, they’re still on the front lines and being able to lever the information within ERP systems remains a vital component in a business’ success – not only today, but in the future too. The fact remains that organizations still need these systems. But traditional ERP systems are beginning to form a bottleneck to achieving agility, while the cost of updating them is prohibitive – in more than ways than just monetary value.

CIOs know they must become quicker in everything they do, from processing to development, and even scaling up. In short, they want to remain as flexible as possible, able to embrace new digital developments and business practices. Relevancy is key in the application era, and being able to react to change almost instantly is a major struggle for traditional ERP packages. In fact, a recent Gartner study revealed some 51% of all CIOs are concerned with the pace of change and whether their current solutions are future-proof.

Making ERP Agile

In an ideal world, CIOs would like their ERP to be able to extend beyond its business silo, preferably into cloud-based solutions and environments. They want to see the data stored within the integrating with Big Data and data warehouse initiatives. Being able to quickly implement new functionality to meet user demands is also high on the list of CIO priorities. This must all be achieved with minimal human intervention, in order to speed up processing times while reducing errors.

Although companies have already been employing automation techniques in some form or another in an effort to support core ERP processes, they’ve been doing so in an opportunistic manner. They’ve introduced schedulers and deployment tools, which have reduced manual effort, but have also had the unintended side-effect of creating knowledge silos. This approach simply isn’t going to work in the long run. To implement effective automation, ERP knowledge needs to be shared, and therefore a different approach is needed.

Opportunistic point-based solutions need to be replaced with enterprise-wide and systematic approaches. Such methodologies mean multiple forms of automation can be supported, all from a single environment. Introducing this approach to enterprise resource planning allows you to directly link the ERP system to the business processes it supports. From this platform, cohesive automation processes can be devised and then applied across the entire company, enabling agility, compliance and visibility.

ERP applications remain the system of record for countless companies. However, they’re reluctant to change. To ensure they remain not only sustainable, but relevant for the future, they must be brought into the digital age. Automation can help you achieve this, but through systematic adoption, rather than opportunistic. That’s not to say all automation platforms are born equal. Your preferred platform must itself be capable of supporting an incremental adoption methodology to facilitate maximum return on investment and learning. By implementing this sort of approach to your ERP systems, those learnings can then be extended to tackle other challenges.

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Tony Beeston

Tony Beeston

Tony Beeston is Product Marketing Manager at Automic Software, and has over 30 years’ industry experience. For the last 15 of these he has been delivering solutions for running end-to-end business processes across ERP systems to companies worldwide.