Chances are, it’s been quite some time since your organisation implemented a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. With technology moving as quickly as it does today, it can be challenging to keep up with changes in a single year, let alone seven to 10 (the average lifespan of an ERP system).
That’s up to 10 years’ worth of innovation your organisation could be brought up to speed with when you upgrade to Cloud ERP.
For many ERP is complex, so unless you have time to trawl through brochures and whitepapers, watch video demonstrations and maybe even attend some virtual events, how do you know what you should expect from an ERP system today?
Here, we take a look at four boxes an ERP system should tick and explore the things you should be looking out for when choosing a new ERP system for your organisation.
Cloud solutions built for the web shouldn’t feel like old technology simply uploaded to a web browser – instead, they should adopt modern standards for interface design. Any modern ERP system should be intuitive and simple to use, so you shouldn’t need training on how to interact with the solution, just how to do the task specific to your organisation. This makes adoption easier and lowers the cost of training.
The solution should be able to adapt to your personal workflow, allowing you to work anytime, anywhere with mobile access and connectivity, and improve your personal productivity by letting you use tools you’re already familiar with to get updates done faster.
It goes without saying that your ERP solution should give you peace of mind, protecting confidential information with the highest level of security by using the same single sign-on credentials as your laptop or workstation. Strong governance, control and auditability of the solution out of the box is equally as important, so you can have peace of mind about what’s going on inside the solution too.
Some organisations need the capacity to think globally and have the potential to operate across the world, sell into different markets and procure from the best suppliers - and deal with the complexities this presents. Others may need a system that permits this in the future, without being a technology bottleneck for expansion plans. Having a single ERP solution capable of multi-currency and inter-company operations, sharing customers, suppliers, inventory, chart of accounts and more is key to creating a single source of truth.
Those wanting to present a unified approach to their operations also need to ensure that governance policies enforced by system standards sit in line with the organisation’s own standards and practices. Your ERP system should look to help you in these matters, rather than acting as another source of risk as part of a wider process.
Artificial intelligence is being utilised more often as organisations look to gain commercial advantage and make better decisions with the support of operational data. It’s important that your ERP vendor is bringing these advances in artificial intelligence technology to the solution without you needing to drive the innovation in commodity areas, leaving you to focus on areas that matter to your business.
But intelligence isn’t just about the artificial kind – it’s also about the solution being able to make more autonomous and smart decisions, so you can focus efforts on the exceptions to the rule. These intelligent decisions normally appear during approvals, where your ability to manage and evolve the workflow are key to time-based efficiencies.
Whether there’s outlying requirements for ‘one-offs’, a smaller division starting up in need of more autonomy and flexibility, or a planned move into new revenue streams, an organisation’s requirements often change over time.
Being able to provide a level of personalisation for individuals or the whole organisation to accommodate these nuances – all while maintaining core controls and data in the solution – is key to reducing the cost of delivering a solution that meets 100 per cent of your organisation’s needs.
It’s very important to have flexibility when it comes to future capabilities and solutions. As an example, there may be an industry-specific quality assessment tool that provides extensive benefits; taking advantage of these requires an ERP solution that has adopted Open Standards for integration options – the last thing you want is to be locked into a vendor where you don’t need to be.
When you move to Software as a Service (SaaS) ERP, you have to re-think how your organisation is going to gain value from the solution with each update. Gone are the days of upgrading ERP solutions every few years; now you need to take advantage of monthly new features and investments the vendor is making in the solution, for your hard-earned licence fee. You should be able to manage these new features and functionality with ease in an evergreen environment, with it being a benefit instead of a burden.
If the Cloud ERP solution you’re considering can tick all of the above boxes, you’re starting to look in the right place.
We know ERP can be hard to wrap your head around. Read our handy guide to Microsoft’s ERP offerings to find out which might be right for your organisation.