ERP and Accounting Software Solutions

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ERP Information Systems Strategy

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) information systems strategy must be closely aligned to the company's vision and mission in order to facilitate the achievement of streamlined business processes, operational efficiencies, information sharing and strategic business objectives. While ERP software strategies vary, the most successful software strategies have several criteria in common.

  • Clear alignment between the business purpose and the ERP software strategy; a strong ERP software strategy is a direct reflection of the company's purpose and supports the company's vision in direct and easy to understand terms.

  • ERP software strategies cut across departments, divisions, geographies and other operational silos in order to achieve enterprise wide effectiveness.

  • Successful ERP software strategies always have senior executive sponsorship and complete buy in from across the company. Operational staff and management take their queues from the executive team so it is critical that the executives are visible, vocal and active in supporting the ERP information systems strategy.

  • ERP software strategies, like all other business strategies, are iterative, continually adapting to market forces and constantly evolving; as the the company advances so to will the ERP software strategy.

ERP strategies are realized from the successful achievement of specific ERP software objectives. To achieve lasting success, it's critical that goals are thorough, measurable and directly aligned with the overall strategy. Several common ERP objectives include the following:

  • Enterprise-wide business process automation. Only when business processes become automated across departments, divisions and multiple lines of business will the organization achieve the greatest efficiencies and lowest cycle times.

  • Shared information and knowledge. A single system of record provides a central knowledge repository with one real-time version of the truth across the enterprise.

  • The achievement of a single, enterprise-wide business information systems eliminates duplicate data entry, reduces systems integration complexity and empowers staff with up to date knowledge and actionable insight.

  • Repeatable processes. The adoption of ERP automation software facilitates consistent processes, process improvements and best practices among all staff who use the ERP application to become more efficient in their daily roles.

If implementing successful strategies and supporting business software systems were either easy or routine, the ERP software implementation failure rate would not be so high (over 50% according to analyst firm Gartner). Below are a few recommendations to stimulate your planning and preparation.

  • Remember that ERP software implementation is not a one time project. Unlike many software technology projects, with ERP software there is no end. ERP software is a continuous journey and those organizations that are most successful and achieve the greatest ROI repeatedly review, relearn and refine their business processes.

  • Don't think of beginning an ERP software or accounting software selection or implementation project before you have acquired clear executive sponsorship. Missing, inactive or inadequate senior executive sponsorship promotes ERP and accounting software implementation failure.

  • Invest the up-front time to identify, evaluate and possibly refine your business processes before you commit to an ERP or accounting systems strategy or begin evaluating ERP software. Failure to truly understand your business processes, including the integration of processes among multiple departments, divisions or locations, can derail an otherwise thoughtful strategy or result in a poor software selection decision.

  • ERP implementations bring change and will therefore be challenged by some people who dislike change. To mitigate this known risk, implement a broad representative team to ensure that all departments, divisions, locations and lines of business are fully represented.

  • When evaluating ERP or accounting software systems, specify the decision making criteria based upon your most strategic business objectives before reviewing any software demonstrations. It is almost always a big mistake to update or change your decision making criteria based upon features discovered during software vendor presentations.

  • Don't be tempted to bypass the Request For Proposal (RFP) document and weighted response scorings. The effort to gather, document, prioritize and compare your most critical business requirements to each ERP software system will provide a major jump start to your implementation project and dramatically reduce the risk of implementation failure. There is a clear correlation between organizations that do not perform a detailed and weighted RFP and ERP software implementation failures.

  • When you do get to the ERP or accounting software demonstrations, do not allow the generic software presentations and instead insist that each vendor demonstrate the software features and functions that are most relevant to your business. It is extraordinarily advisable to use a structured demonstration script so that each vendor aligns their commercial software with your most prioritized objectives and so the business software solutions can be fairly compared is a side by side manner. Also be certain that your demonstration scripts are detailed, measurable and scored.

  • Refrain from purchasing multiple vendor software systems with the intent of later integrating them if at all possible. Despite the theoretical appeal of 'best of breed' systems, dealing with multiple vendor software systems, and more so with their different contracts, support plans, graphical user interfaces, release schedules, invoices and technical support groups never works well. Also, the time and cost to integrate the systems introduces significant risk and a dramatic increase in the total cost of ownership (TCO). Be wary of alleged integrated software solutions; the actual depth and quality of system integration is generally shallow and seldom lives up to the hype of the salesperson or marketing brochure.

Be aware that ERP strategy and ERP software are neither a panacea nor pitfall. However, with thoughtful planning, a methodical software selection project and a structured implementation approach they are can deliver a valuable operational framework and productivity automation aid capable of long-term benefits and direct contribution to the organization's mission.

  Strategy Before Software


Implementing ERP and accounting software solutions without a well thought through business strategy is like inserting a super-charged turbo engine in a car which has no steering wheel.

 

It is imperative that business strategy, business processes and the most salient software functionality requirements are identified prior to reviewing commercial ERP and accounting software systems.

 

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