“Let’s keep it simple – we will buy one ERP suite, from a top 3 vendor that sells solutions to enterprises in our industry and that will solve our operational data visibility, as well as provide us with a platform that will cover all our needs around new technologies like IoT, mobile interfacing and data analytics. Plus, application integration will not be a problem, as everything will be interconnected by default.”
So, this is a quote from a former client I spoke to a couple of years ago, a couple in this case means 10 years ago! Funny enough, I ran into this same guy a couple of weeks ago in a restaurant, and now he’s telling me:
“We are now embarking on a digital transformation journey at our company. We are looking for a new ERP suite, as the other one we had didn’t evolve along the lines the vendor promised. Their IoT capabilities lag behind what we have been seeing others doing. Analytics are ok, but it requires a high maintenance set of customized interfaces to work. Yeah, the ERP piece works, although my business area always complains about us taking at least 3 months to deploy a new simple report to fulfill their needs.”
That’s when I asked “Besides those problems, what are the objectives of this digital biz transformation and how this relates to your ERP initiative?”
And his reply was: “We need a more flexible SUITE, that will allow us to self-service reporting capabilities to the end-user, incorporating AI and RPA capabilities to that data set. And a suite that will provide all that support the “old” solution couldn’t provide in relation to being an open architecture, so we can integrate with all these other legacy systems that are still dated back to the 90’s but we can’t get rid of”.
So, in my mind I was eager to share with him my 6 immediate thoughts:
- Take time to build an ERP strategy – it will help you map what you really need and prioritize your efforts.
- Don’t believe the hype – there’s probably not a single suite that will solve all your problems, and the past experience may have shown some of this. And digital business transformation is much less about technology than enterprise mindset shift.
- Integration requires a holistic approach – the concern with the legacies should be equal to the integration of existing and future cloud applications (yes, I heard him saying cloud-first was something his boss mandated him to seek).
- Agility and flexibility don’t come for free – you need to accept complexity and sell the idea to the C-level. Digital business needs speed but still needs a stable basis to work well.
- Ask for help – building an ERP strategy wouldn’t be an easy task for him, considering his plethora of things to deal with. Do not outsource it entirely, but be prepared to take an active role in this (if he was a Gartner client I’d guide him to look into my recent research note that talks about this: Should You Use Consulting Services to Create Your Postmodern ERP Strategy? – this link is only accessible to Gartner clients)
But, all of a sudden, I see a little girl pulling my hand… “Daddy, your pasta is getting cold!”
Well, like a good soldier, I had to follow orders. My friend and I shook hands, I gave him my card and said we should talk. And for those of you wondering, my sixth thought would have been “Order the Cheesecake, it is a great dish in this place”…
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