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“What is wrong with our ERP System?”

One of the pervasive realities that I have discovered over the past 15 years is that many… maybe most… companies are dissatisfied with the performance of their primary “run-the-business” software… usually a brand-name ERP system that is widely distributed and widely used. To a person, business and IT executives tell us that their ERP systems have not met their original expectations and that the productivity of their personnel and processes have not materially improved as a result of new software. So what is the problem… and how can you address it?

Reasons for ERP system “underperformance” are not as obscure as you might think, and in fact, four common factors seem to be at the heart of most system disappointments and failures.

Can you identify with one or more of the “P Factors” below?


Process
It’s not that the wrong business process is deployed or is being forced on the software. The problem is that, from the first day that most ERP systems go “live”, internal improvement initiatives and the competitive marketplace dictate process change on a regular basis. The reality is that the original software configuration usually remains static and eventually becomes misaligned with your evolving business process model. Your software is probably OK; it just needs to be reconnected and “re-matched” to your business processes.

People
I know… you employ solid, highly-skilled, proficient people. But if your ERP system has been installed for any reasonable period of time, the personnel that are in place today are probably not the same personnel that were in place when you made your system selection. All of us come into our current roles with past experiences, preferences and, yes, even prejudices, and that unfamiliarity with… or even disdain for… the ERP system in use may be a prime factor behind poor utilization and marginalized system effectiveness. A focus on software orientation and user training may go a long way toward improving the attitude of your team, and their adoption and proper utilization of your current software.

Partner
Unless you are trying to cram a square peg into a round hole, most software that is even generally designed for your industry will probably work for your company. One of the most common sources of ERP system abandonment by companies is that they are not working with a solution provider or partner that 1), knows their industry and the inherent processes that must be executed, 2), knows, at a detail level, the breadth and depth of functionality available in the ERP software, and 3), knows how to configure the software to dovetail nicely with a company’s critical business processes so that users can quickly see productivity improvements when the software is employed in their daily routines. More than any other criteria, a company’s long-term relationship with a firm that continually helps extend

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