There are two ways to look at replacing a legacy ERP system. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, or update to get the benefits of new features.
Considering the time, expense and hassle involved in replacing an ERP system, the “if it ain’t broke” school probably is the most common. However there is a lot to be said for updating the system even before it becomes obsolete.
If your system is more than five years old, you owe it to yourself to at least look at what an up-to-date system has to offer.
ERP changes rapidly as vendors add features and redesign their offerings – largely in response to customer feedback. As a result, today’s ERP systems are significantly different than those of even four or five years ago. Generally the changes represent improvements, some of them major.
One big change has been ease of installation. Today’s systems are usually significantly easier to implement than they were.
One particular area of improvement is the decrease in the amount of customization needed to fit the system to an installation. Most of that customization effort, involving significant programming has been replaced by configuration, which is essentially choosing options from a menu.
This not only makes the ERP system easier to install, it significantly reduces the effort needed to maintain and update the system.
Implementation aside, another major improvement area is ease of use. Newer systems tend to make life much easier for users on everything from basic screens to workflow.
ERP systems are never going to be completely intuitive, but they have gotten a lot more intuitive, easing the burden on users and reducing the amount of training needed to use the system.
A related development is better customization features, which allow you to tailor your system and its workflow to your needs more easily.
One important area of improvement is behind the scenes in the underlying database that supports the overall ERP system. In some cases these are the result of changes to a new or updated DBMS. In others they result from improvements in the design and tuning of the database, even though the version number of the underlying database hasn’t changed.
One area that may or may not have improved is licensing and related features. This is a result of vendors listening to their customers and some of them have made significant changes to their policies and fee structures as a result.
Of course Software as a Service (SaaS) has become more widespread and nearly every major vendor now offers a cloud version of their product. Most of them also offer the possibility of a hybrid system where some of modules can be used on line while the rest remain on premises.
Most vendors are also working to improve customer service, as this is an increasingly important concern for their customers. Here again, changes, policies and new features are very variable from company to company.
As a group, ERP systems are still diverse. Not all systems will have improvements in all these areas. However the overall effect is that today’s ERP systems show significant improvements over ERP of just a few years ago.
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