Look To the Future With ERP: Choosing and Implementing an ERP Environment
Today, practically every company is going through some sort of digital transformation. Whether it is a service delivery transformation, operational improvement using ITSM as a framework, or other change, companies need to be proactive and look to the future to stay competitive. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is a core component of this digital revolution, allowing companies to collect, store, manage, and analyze data across a wide range of business functions to drive business goals. However, choosing and implementing an effective ERP environment can be challenging. To succeed, the organization must carefully identify their needs and build a roadmap for ERP success.
Choosing and Implementing an ERP solution
When choosing an ERP solution, it is important to remain agnostic and work with vendors that can meet your unique business and technology challenges. By Identifying unique needs, companies can better map out their path and compare capabilities of individual ERPs.
Understand business goals – The right ERP solution will be matched to business goals. Whether your company wants to achieve market expansion, category growth, brand presence, or expanded market penetration, it is important to build an ERP strategy that aligns with long term objectives. This means working with vendors and effectively communicating goals.
Identify needed functionality – Start with a deep understanding of the business processes that must be enabled, transitioned or delivered by the ERP environment. By listing all the current ERP systems that will be consolidated and identifying core business functionality the environment will need to encompass, you can better choose a solution that meets your needs. It is important to understand the application footprint you currently have as well as the current state of IT infrastructure and technical architecture.
Avoid customization – Tweaking and configuring an ERP environment to your company’s needs is a necessity, but in depth customization can add significant time, risk and cost to the project. It is best to find as close to a turnkey solution as possible.
Choose cloud or on-site solutions – Depending on your existing architecture, scalability needs, and budget, it may make sense to go with an outsourced cloud based ERP solution, at least for certain functionality. This can take the strain off your in-house IT infrastructure and allow the project to get up and running more quickly.
Train and build knowledge – Understand the user community and the level of experience that they may have with current ERP systems. This will inform the training and change management component of the process.
Focus on innovation
Although implementing an ERP that can deliver core business functionality may be alright for today, it won’t keep your business competitive tomorrow. Perhaps the most important component of choosing and implementing an ERP solution is to look to the future. Don’t just focus on current requirements. Think about the company in five or ten years and try to identify future needs. Consider other functionality that could impact customer experience, supplier experience and internal operations.
Think about the scalability and flexibility of the architecture to accommodate automation, predictive analytics, IoT, and other upcoming technologies. How is the solution and architectural framework going to deliver what is needed from a business perspective and how will it scale to meet the future challenges of tomorrow? Answering these questions and finding a solution that meets your needs will allow your company to maximize the potential of ERP to drive business goals.
Learn more about ERP planning and implementation by reading our earlier article,
WGroup is excited to announce that we are co-hosting a webcast with Pneuron on December 1st at 3:00 PM ET entitled “Better Insight. Automated Action. Despite Technical Debt”. WGroup’s COO, Jeff Vail will be joined by Pneuron’s CTO, Tom Fountain, who was also the former CIO of global agribusinesss Bunge, Ltd. and VP & CIO at Honeywell Specialty Materials.
The discussion will be centered around how to innovate with IT, and will dive into actionable steps companies can take to accelerate transformation. The session will include an in-depth dialogue on how to overcome legacy and costly software and data integration problems that organizations face when merging or engineering large and complex enterprise projects.
“Technology is both the great enabler and the great destroyer. Innovation, transformation, modernization are the keys to staying ahead of competitors,” says Fountain. “But how do we overcome legacy technology and technical debt? If speed is essential, how do we address the challenge to ‘get fast’?”
How to balance constraints with actionable new ideas
How enterprises solve complex business problems while bypassing costly integration projects
How to get started without massive investment, without a technology overhaul, and without the need for dramatic organizational change.
About the speakers:
Tom Fountain is Chief Technology Officer for Pneuron, bringing more than 20 years of experience in senior leadership roles with proven expertise at improving business through programs that integrate IT, organizational development, and process improvement techniques. He was previously CIO at global agribusiness Bunge, Ltd. He’s held senior CIO roles at Honeywell and GE as well as product management, intelligence officer, and engineering positions with Dell, the Central Intelligence Agency, HP, and Martin-Marietta. He holds a degree in electrical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an MS degree from Duke, and an MBA from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.
Jeff Vail, Chief Operating Officer, WGroup. Based in Radnor, PA, WGroup provides strategy, management and execution services “to optimize business performance, minimize cost and create value.” Prior to joining WGroup, Jeff was Chief Commercial Officer of Quintiq, a supply chain and planning software company, acquired by Dassault Systemes. Before that, he was SVP of Global Corporate Marketing at Unify (formerly Siemens Enterprise Communications), VP of Enterprise Marketing at SAP Americas, and General Manager of Infrastructure Solutions at Unisys. Jeff holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Stetson University.
The evaluation and ultimate selection of a technology solution as materially transformative as an ERP package requires an organization to immerse itself in some in-depth self-reflection. Reflection of how it is currently operating, considering opportunities to re-engineer, optimize and standardize current business processes. Reflecting on the future. Where is the business going? What external market and regulatory pressures are mandating? What and how will we drive competitive differentiation and growth, enhancing flexibility and scalability, while driving operational excellence across our business? What new innovative technology solutions would we want to consider? Cultural implications of a change this large are a significant component that has to be considered as are the organization’s tolerance for risk and approach to technology adoption. Enterprise architecture forms the basis for delivery of business capability ensuring secure, flexible, robust platforms from which business services can be delivered. Opportunities abound in this space but will require careful evaluation and consideration to ensure that they will deliver on the business expectations and requirements.
WGroup was retained by a Fortune 500 national distributor in the oil and gas industry to perform an ERP evaluation and selection. The driver to assess a new technology solution was a strategic, multi-year plan to grow revenue and share value. However, the company’s aging, existing technology was unable to scale and accommodate the significant business model transformation required by the plan. WGroup’s mandate was to fully understand the nuances of the new business model and strategic direction and obtain a deep insight into the current technology environment. The scope encompassed
Core integration points and especially limitations of existing architecture
Help with the design and review of current operational process mapping to determine risk and opportunities for optimization and re-engineering
Ensure that integration of an ERP solution to new fleet tracking and inventory systems was maintained as a core requirement
Ensure the ability to obtain, retain and utilize as yet untapped data sources to drive actionable predictive analytics
Internal culture and operational business structure design also had to be considered and evaluated as part of the selection criteria.
Our work enabled the corporation to make a data driven, fact based decision around the optimal architecture and solution that would deliver on their outcomes, goals and objectives they required.
Learn more about ERP considerations in the following articles:
App Rationalization – Strategies for a leaner, more effective app portfolio
In our last post, we talked about what app rationalization was and how it can help your business. In this article, we’re going to discuss some specific techniques for app rationalization and why WGroup believes they are the most effective ways to make your app portfolio more cost effective and efficient.
What are the goals of app rationalization?
App rationalization is the process of assessing IT applications across the organization to identify those that should be eliminated, consolidated, optimized, or replaced. But in order to effectively streamline an app portfolio, it is important to understand what effective app rationalization looks like. App rationalization should ultimately lead to a more modern, flexible, and cost effective software development platform that can reduce overhead and leave room for growth.
In order to effectively embark on an app rationalization initiative, it is important to have a well-thought-out roadmap. At WGroup, we have identified several key strategies for effectively optimizing an application portfolio. Below are some of the most important of those strategies.
Identify low hanging fruits – Optimizing a large app portfolio can be overwhelming. It’s best to start with low hanging fruit. Look for items that are clearly unused and would be easy to remove from the portfolio. This allows the initiative to gain a footing and quickly realize benefits, encouraging further investment of time and resources in the effort.
Communicate with leadership – IT and business leadership have to understand what the app rationalization initiative is, why long used apps are being deprecated, and why they should invest in further efforts to optimize the portfolio. By communicating effectively, demonstrating value, and driving business goals, it is more likely that the initiative will be successful.
Locate consolidation opportunities – It is all too common that divisions within the company use multiple applications to perform the same task. These redundancies waste financial resources and overcomplicate support efforts. Eliminating the repeated apps can be an early way of optimizing the app portfolio.
Replace obsolete apps – For applications that are business critical but obsolete, it is important to identify newer, more effective alternatives for replacement. This will ensure that there are no gaps in service and allow the business to gain immediate gains in efficiency.
The WGroup approach
At WGroup, we have put together a framework that helps companies manage their application portfolios and transform their IT environments. This allows companies to implement these decisions using the appropriate tools and technologies and partnering with the right vendors. We work with companies to stand up relevant processes so they can use the framework to make and implement these decisions on an ongoing basis. In the past, this has allowed clients to reduce their application portfolio by 10-20%, transform legacy applications and make future decisions on tools, process and technologies. We have seen these decisions transform predominantly legacy shops into modern IT shops that are agile, cost effective and efficient.