ERP systems are inflexible, often counterintuitive, and can be downright cumbersome! Do you agree?
New research indicates that many of you do…at least to some extent. A recent article in SmartData Collective has revealed that one-third of companies find it ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to make changes to their ERP systems. 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 of the system. But 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. They span multiple business units across locations and jurisdictions. The processes are so diverse and complicated, they require complex systems to support them. IT struggles to keep up with the processes and is dependent 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 their own custom code to adapt these systems to fit their unique business processes. Continually adding custom code to your ERP system over the past years have made it a very difficult system to change. Not only that, it’s much harder for you to be agile in meeting business demands.
The average size of custom code in a typical SAP ERP or Oracle EBS system amounts to two to three million lines of code! These lines of code have been patched by dozens of different developers over the years.
If you factor in the hundreds of configurations implemented in the ERP, you have a big change management problem on your hands. It’s almost impossible to know the impact of a change, making risk a major concern. The only way that you can mitigate this risk is by figuring out what will break, how to fix it, and pinpointing what to test – before you start your project.
ERP Change is Difficult – But it’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 full version upgrade. SAP HANA and mobile apps are also on the 2014 roadmap for 5% of SAP shops.
This graph shows the key projects planned by known SAP customers in 2014:
So, although one-third of us might find it ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to make changes to our ERP systems – we clearly need to find ways to overcome it!
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What about you? Do you find it hard to make changes to your ERP system? If so, why?