5 ways newer ERP systems overcome traditional limitations

Bart Perkins

overcome obstacles climb ladder
US Army (CC BY 2.0)

Few enterprises look forward to updating their ERP. It is hard work, not leading edge, and rarely enables the business to increase sales. Here's what you need to know about the new breed of ERP and how to ease the process when you've decided your ERP system needs an update.


The trouble with traditional ERP

ERP systems have a reputation for difficult installations. By the time they are finally operational, it is fairly common for implementation to have taken longer and cost more than originally planned. Over time, software from the major ERP vendors has become bloated as it has expanded to support virtually every industry and to accommodate almost all possible business process variations.

Even when the initial installation is on time and on budget, it is usually followed by a major new release shortly after the first implementation is stable. Although many enterprises skip releases, at some point the customer will be faced with another large, complex project to remain on a supported release.

Fortunately, most of the more recently developed ERP software is easier to install and use.


5 design principles for a new breed of ERP

A number of new ERP vendors have created what Gartner calls “born in the cloud” software. Other vendors with a long history offering ERP software now have cloud offerings after completely re-architecting major modules. Most of these new offerings have adapted the following cloud design principles to a software category that has had little innovation for years:

1. Redesign from the ground up. Without the need to support obsolete business processes or legacy code, designers are free to learn from industry experience. Security, separation of duties, newer standards and more recent legislation are incorporated in the initial design and not bolted on later. This allows designers to create straightforward business processes and a cleaner code base with easier implementation.

Mobile first. Under this approach, the first version is designed to operate on the smallest screen that will be used. The small screen, combined with the need to make the app operate when connectivity is poor, forces designers to eliminate complexity and create highly functional user interfaces.

Training costs are minimized by an intuitive interface that requires only rudimentary instructions. Most developers follow Android and iOS design guidelines for navigation, status boxes, headers, button styles, etc., making learning a new app fairly easy and limiting the need for training to business process changes.

Mobile first promotes self-service, reducing administrative overhead. Mobile apps allow the individual closest to the situation to handle it directly without a data chauffeur. An HR app could enable all employees to maintain their personal contact information. Other apps could allow supervisors to approve vacation requests from their phones or travelers to take pictures of receipts and file expense reports without returning to the office.

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