Throughout the years after ERP technology became the industry norm, there have been many town criers tolling the bell on this modern enterprise-industry technology. “ERP is over”, “Failed ERP’s are ruining business”, and other such hyperbolic click-bait articles came a dime a dozen. They weren’t completely full of it, however; with great power comes great responsibility, and ERP’s were responsible for a lot of power in your business – which meant even the slightest mistake or miscalculation or glitch could have dire and (most importantly) visible consequences.
ERP is here to stay, though. Even with the complications that arise from inadequate software or mismanaged implementations, Enterprise Resource Planning applications are still the first line of defense and attack in the modern manufacturers arsenal – for warding off the perils of a tumultuous markets and finding the money-making opportunities others have overlooked.
Then why do people keep preemptively calling ERP’s time of death?
ERP – Good Intentions, Bad Press
Part of the reason we continue to hear about the decline of ERP is due to misconceptions about the software itself. ERP applications have almost always been heralded as a “one stop shop” for all your business systems. Financials, HR, Customer Service, Inventory Management, Sales – where once we saw disparate and disconnected (and often analog paper trail) systems, big businesses were being promised a smooth running and completely connected One System to Rule them All. In many situations, this was truly the case; industrial manufacturers were able to consolidate their operations under one piece of technology which allowed them to work smarter, faster, and with more rewards.
Unfortunately, nothing in this world is perfect. Some ERP vendors have made honest mistakes, others cut corners, and some don’t know what they’re doing. Enterprise technology involves a lot of coding and development work, and oftentimes a large degree of customizations. This last part leads into the other side of this blame-coin; the customer. Sometimes the manufacturers themselves don’t have a firm enough grasp of what they even want from the new technology until after they’ve discovered what it can’t do yet. Some change their minds, and others simply can’t get their employees on board with the new way of doing things.
All these mishaps, when combined into a pithy and biting article that’s repeated ad nauseum by different writers, would lead one to believe that the great ERP experiment has failed. Companies are turning their backs on this technology. Software creators wrote checks their creations couldn’t cash.
None of that is true.
Fair and Balanced ERP
While there have been some hiccups for various industries and individual companies throughout the history of ERP implementations, the benefits of this technology have far outweighed the negatives some have associated with it. People refer to ERP as being “monolithic” and “unwieldy”, but the alternative of completely separate information-silos is even worse. The risks of ERP are worth the rewards, as proven by almost all major industrial manufacturers, distributors, and other businesses have adopted an ERP system-centric method for running their companies – instead of diving back into the “good old days” of paper trails and point-solutions as some seem to glorify them as.
For ERP to work the way it was intended, their needs to be a holistic, patient, and informed process of implementation. Find the right software, one that works for your company – as not all ERP’s were created equal. Find the right implementation partner, one that has experience in your industry – some consultants have better track records with one type of implementation over another. Plan accordingly before you begin the process – you need to know exactly what it is you want from the software, not just what you think is the trendiest feature to focus on.
Some companies need a big, future proof ERP system. Others need something smaller and more agile. Some need multi-site functionality, others need a heavy focus on mobile applications. There are so many different facets to each and every ERP offering, that it is at best disingenuous to say that “ERP is dying”, and at worst it is deliberately misleading. Those headlines make for enticing articles, but they betray the truth about the industry as a whole – ERP is here to stay.