15 Years Ago I Bought an ERP. Now What Are My Options?

Every day thousands of companies are trying to maximize the functionality of their legacy ERP systems on very tight budgets because upgrading the system may not be a particularly feasible option. One solution to this problem involves adding a top layer of functionality and utilizing its [valuable] underlying components.

The history of ERPs is an interesting one; their impact on enterprises is and has always been obvious. They’ve always been a revolutionary asset to the organizations who implemented them early on. Simply put, they open up communication between all functions of an organization, and facilitate and improve business processes by doing so. Unfortunately maintaining these systems can be difficult and extremely costly.

ERPs are hefty solutions and are characteristically applied under the ‘one solution fits all’ axiom. These systems are made for any industry vertical, even if they require customization. Since ERPs are built to fit into any business, by default, your company has to fit into the ERPs set of functionality. This can lead to some issues years after the initial implementation.

It is possible to add functionality to an ERP implementation without spending millions. If you have the budget, by all means use the vendor, but when dealing with an older, legacy piece of software, you might want to know about the other options.

Many enterprises choose to extend their ERP by adding a new layer on top of it. This layer can pull data, rules, and business processes from working modules and add say, additional reporting functionality, a single sign on into multiple applications, an extension to your supply chain, or any other type of differentiating application. I’ve seen a few instances of what I’m going to call the ‘legacy systems after-market shop’ where a better ROI is uncovered with some innovative thinking towards business user stories to find updated requirements. These are the symptoms within your organization to look out for:

  1. People use Excel spreadsheets and Access to manage specific processes.
  2. The performance of your database is noticeably lacking.
  3. Input fields no longer represent the functionality they were originally meant for.
  4. You still use out-of-the-box fields and logic, rather than ones customized to your business.

The moral of this story is that the implementation that cost you millions years ago can be kept alive and well for a lot less than a full-blown system upgrade. Modern ERP systems are incredibly powerful tools, but these tools need to be kept sharp, and this is just one way of doing so.


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