Today’s business landscape involves rapidly changing markets as well as employees and customers who are increasingly connected. As a result, the pressure is on for businesses to be more agile and flexible, and to be able to measure ROI in weeks, not years.

Because of this, business leaders need to focus on finding improved, streamlined, cloud-based tools that will help them better serve their customers with more comprehensive customer visibility, while also breaking down communication barriers between departments. However, with the invasion of business tools that are saturating the market today, it is incredibly challenging to successfully manage your company’s resources at a pace that is both right for your individual business and today’s connected customer.

One thing is clear, you shouldn’t have to endure the arduous process of an old style ERP suite implementation. Instead, with ERP at customer speed, it’s possible to focus your efforts on key business initiatives in the order of priority you decide, while preparing for future success through the adoption of a common set of tools and skills.

Slowed by rigid legacy ERP

The last major shift in ERP was driven by the technology transition to client-server. We saw pervasive adoption of full-suite ERP systems, where teams of implementation consultants spent innumerable hours modifying an organization’s process to fit the unbending conventions of software design. The problem was that these adjustments came with development complexities and droves of headaches for the IT team. The process was often painful and costly, causing delays in projects and regularly missed deadlines.

With the extent of custom code that was required by these legacy ERP systems, they became inflexible and resistant to change. Due to the disruption of workflow and the cost of having to bring in external experts, just to ensure existing systems kept running as before, the thought of upgrading became something to dread and even avoid. The core problem here was that customers only saw tangible business value once the entire suite had been completely rolled out across all business units. The rigmarole with these systems directly impacted a business’s ability to seize new market opportunities. New business prospects were often excluded because the ERP system, which had been selected to support an original business model, couldn’t be modified to meet the needs of each new opportunity.

Gaining speed with cloud ERP

Legacy ERP systems hold business back in the race. However, a complete overhaul of an entire ERP system can take precious time and would be highly disruptive to each individual business unit. To compete and win in today’s market, I recommend moving forward with a strategy that both promotes innovation and agility, while still giving IT a core architecture to rely on through future upgrades.

Implementing cloud ERP applications one step at a time will help companies quickly solve business problems from the most challenging to the most routine. This means that transitioning billing, spend management, quoting and ordering, etc. can all be done without disruption of the core business functions. By adopting this approach, the workforce is freed up to seize new opportunities quickly and impart profitable change and innovation. Historically, cloud-based solutions have proven successful across sales and marketing, so leveraging the same technical skills to deliver new back office capabilities, in a familiar and secure form, makes this a sound approach. Addressing daily business challenges is hard enough without the complexities that come with forcing a rip-and-replace ERP implementation that might not fit all of your business needs.

Most importantly, this one step at a time approach lets you take back control of your business strategy. For some, first addressing billing and routine professional services challenges has enabled major improvements in customer service. Others have seen back office efficiency improvements through the automation of revenue recognition and spend management processes. In some cases, it has proven most beneficial to move entire functions, such as supply chain, HR and finance to their chosen cloud platform. Every company is different, and the pace of transitioning your legacy systems into a modern cloud deployment is something that you should have control over.

It’s important to note, however, that the cloud alone does not enable a flexible and agile strategy. This new approach requires a platform that provides a set of core business services that can be leveraged seamlessly across your business. As you move applications and processes, it’s vital to ensure consistency in areas like security and data privacy, identity, mobility, development tools and audit trails. To effectively rollout a change in your business system, you must make it immediately and abundantly clear that these new capabilities will ultimately improve workflow and make life within the organization easier. Additionally, the chosen platform should also get the stamp of approval from IT, whose skills will ultimately service the ongoing function and health of the platform, while the remaining teams can focus on their intended business objectives. 

Customer speed in today’s enterprise requires Olympic-level acumen, but with an ERP system that is nimble and adaptable, you’ll have the power to win the race.

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