Does Not Compute – What to Do When Your ERP Doesn’t Live Up to Expectations

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You’ve been hearing whispers around the office.

A chorus of frustrated sighs and agitated mouse clicking greet you every day. Your ERP system doesn’t seem to be working the way you dreamed it would.

Despite all the time you took in choosing the right ERP solution for your business, it’s failed to live up to expectations. You’ve invested time, money and resources in your ERP, so what do you do if you think it might be failing?

Is there a problem?

The first step is to know the signs that indicate you have an ERP problem.

These signs include bending over backwards trying to make your processes fit the system, endless workarounds, incomplete or messy data, slow reporting, an uninformed or unhelpful vendor or an incomplete picture of your business.

Understand the root of the problem

Once you know there is a problem, you need to take the time to explore the problem more deeply in order to find the appropriate solution.

Is the problem technical or process driven?

Map the workflow that leads up to the problem to see if the problem lies in the process people are using. ERP systems are meant to streamline business processes, so it is possible that your processes could be reorganised in a way that works better. Having said that, remember that you should change the process because you can make that process better, not simply as a workaround for your system.

If you have determined that the problem is a technical limitation of your system, do a bit of research both with your own vendor and other vendors to determine if the feature you need is possible or if it can be custom created.

Sometimes ERP system’s fail simply because you have outgrown the original system. If you didn’t plan for growth during your initial implementation, you may need a new system that can accommodate your current and future needs.

Seek out key decision makers

Once you have determined that there is a problem that needs to be solved, you can then seek out key decision makers to consult on the decision regarding how to solve the problem.

As you would have made a substantial investment to purchase the ERP system in the first place, there are many factors that must be considered in order to come to the best possible solution. Budget is often one of the biggest deciding factors and requires buy in from many key decision makers.

It’s often best to assess what fixes can be made to the current system before jumping ship to find a whole new system. However, if the current system will ultimately not meet your needs, it’s better not to waste time and money on temporary fixes. Various decision makers will have input on what the best solution might be.

Work towards a solution

After you have consulted with key decision makers regarding what the solution should be to your ERP problems, you can begin to work towards your agreed upon solution.

If you have decided to remain with your current system, you can begin planning updates with your vendor. If you have decided to choose a new vendor, you can begin researching options.

Either way, you should review your current processes and redesign them how you would ideally like them to work. You should also create a list of wants and needs for solving the problems with your current system. Both the new processes and wants and needs should be different to those in your original ERP search in order to address the issues that slipped through the cracks to result in your current predicament.

Ultimately, one of the best ways to head off potential ERP issues is to ensure that you have a system that is customisable, scalable and “future proof”. In doing this, you ensure that your system can change and evolve as you need it to.

Dan Booth ()

British gamer, tech addict and F1 enthusiast. Blogs about his adventures in gaming on his site called The Boo Tube.