Why Are ERP Systems So Hard to Configure?

SAP ERP Systems - Configuration Challenges

ERP systems are inflexible, often counterintuitive, and can be downright cumbersome! Do you agree?

Research indicates that many of you do, at least to some extent. An article in SmartData Collective has revealed that one-third of companies find it ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult ‘to make changes to their ERP software. Author Robert Kugel explored three reasons why IT teams are struggling to implement these changes:

#1. Applications Built on Top of the ERP System.

Smartphones and tablets have made it easier for users to interact with core ERP functions. It’s easy to build innovative processes on top of your ERP system – but they are outside the system. Are we prepared to build a future on an ERP system ‘cobbled together with a bunch of external apps?

 #2. ERP is a Mission Critical ‘Core’ System

As such, there is zero tolerance for failure. Guaranteeing reliability and safety requires a complex set of redundant systems – plus heavy-duty testing and quality assurance processes.

 #3. The Business Processes That ERP Systems Manage are Incredibly Complex.

ERP Systems span multiple business units across locations and jurisdictions. The processes are so diverse and complicated that they require complex systems to support them. IT struggles to keep up with the processes and depends on the business for ongoing knowledge transfer. No wonder mistakes are made!

All of these points are valid. However, I believe that there is one additional roadblock to adapting ERP systems:

#4. Your Own Custom Code

Most ERP systems were implemented 10, 15, or even 20 years ago. Since then, many organizations have developed custom codes to adapt these systems to fit their unique business processes. Continually adding custom code to your ERP system over the past years has made it a complicated system to change. Not only that, but it’s also much more challenging for you to be agile in meeting business demands.

The average size of custom code in a typical SAP ERP software or Oracle EBS system amounts to two to three million lines of code! Dozens of different developers have patched these lines of code over the years. If you factor in the hundreds of configurations implemented in the ERP, you have a significant change management problem. It’s almost impossible to know the impact of a change, making risk a major concern. Before you start your project, you can only mitigate this risk by figuring out what will break, how to fix it, and pinpointing what to test.

ERP Change is Difficult – But that’s Not Stopping Us!

Although it’s clear that we face a lot of challenges, almost every ERP-run company is in the process of planning or implementing an ERP change. Our research has revealed that 30% of SAP customers are planning an enhancement package upgrade, nearly 15% are planning rollouts and support pack implementations, and almost 10% are about to go through a complete version upgrade.

So, although one-third of us might find it ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to make changes to our ERP systems, we must find ways to overcome it!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an ERP system?

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems manage and integrate key business processes through a single platform so companies can run their operations more efficiently. The main goal of ERP software is to integrate formerly separate databases, systems, and underlying processes into a single platform. ERP systems promote improved productivity and operating efficiencies – and most provide mechanisms to implement significant customizations and innovations.

What Are Some ERP Implementation\Conversion Challenges?

Moving to a new ERP system can be counterproductive if the company’s business stakeholders do not adjust to the new process, interfaces, and culture changes. Data conversion can also be a most pressing challenge. A change management plan including testing, training, communication, and stakeholder involvement from each department will mitigate complexities brought on by resistance to change.

How Can Panaya Help?

Companies converting to SAP HANA and Oracle EBS 12.2.x from earlier versions of these ERP platforms need to ensure that existing customizations will work in the target environment. Panaya can analyze an as-is ERP environment and proactively generate a complete SaaS-based conversion plan with auto-generated correction tasks and unit tests. This change intelligence exposes more risk than any other tool in the market and ensures accelerated and risk-free upgrades. Panaya’s market-leading Enterprise Test and Defect Management Platform, recognized by g2.com, can play a critical role in validating and documenting re-engineered processes and interfaces for those moving to an entirely new ERP platform. Transformational IT initiatives of any type require business-user validation and training. Panaya’s platform has helped thousands of companies across the globe innovate faster.

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