Innovation Enablement – The New Criteria for Selecting an ERP
Today’s business environment can be characterized by a single word: dynamic. Hyper market changes, M&A activity, AI technologies, a volatile political climate, and ever-changing consumer purchasing habits contribute to the rapid growth (or decline) of an entire industry.
As immense as these changes are, they do not happen overnight. Consumer expectations change, which lead to new buying behaviors, and ultimately new products and services are brought to market in response to consumer demand. While this cycle of change has sped up over time, it has happened incrementally, leaving many businesses vastly unprepared to meet new demands.
How can organizations adapt? They must now anticipate change and build an internal infrastructure that will meet new, yet unknown demands. Businesses are challenged to build innovation into their existing processes and systems, including their ERP systems. Today’s ERP systems must seamlessly connect functional areas, global divisions, and legacy systems, and while supporting a diverse set of users. These systems must be quick-to-implement, cost effective and agile, allowing them to meet the ever-changing demands of fast-moving incremental change.
Successful companies understand that innovation is the critical quality that allows them to adapt to dynamic change. That quality must also be an inherent part of their ERP system for it to be an asset, not a hindrance to growth.
Systemic ERP Issues in Today’s Market
ERP systems have existed for nearly 25 years. Their goal is to integrate company operations like Accounting and Finance, Sales and Marketing, Logistics and Inventory, HR, and other departments into a single system for greater ease in accessing company data and reporting on operations.
Unfortunately, many ERP systems have not kept pace with today’s business needs or technology advances. The most common issues with existing ERP’s include:
- Time and Cost of Customization. Each company has a unique set of data, workflows, and reporting. Traditional ERP applications are expensive and require a long time to implement as they must customize the application to unique requirements, even for the most technologically-advanced companies. These ERP systems may also require post-implementation customization when additional modules are purchased or glitches are discovered.
- Cost of License. Time is money, and a lengthy implementation process will drain resources. Numerous user licenses are often required, which can be difficult to manage for a global firm or growing business. Licenses, consulting, and labor costs are a significant outlay no matter what size the firm.
- User Adoption. Unless the ERP system has an intuitive interface and functional workflows, expected productivity gains will be lost to a long learning curve as users integrate the systems into their daily work routine.
- Integration and Scalability. Today’s companies may use a combination of local or cloud-based software, legacy systems, and applications from third-party vendors. Integrating these applications and providing a foundation for future scalability remains a challenge for the most advanced firms.
- Reporting. Today’s companies are still dependent on manual data entry into their ERP or spreadsheets to produce the reports they need for strategic, financial, or marketing decision-making. Without a centralized datastore of real-time data, reports are expensive and cumbersome to produce.
These systemic issues have given ERPs a reputation for being costly, cumbersome, and difficult to use. For organizations that are tasked with innovating for the future, a minimally featured ERP system can prevent them from meeting their strategic business objectives.
ERP expectations are high
For companies seeking to replace or upgrade their existing systems, expectations are high. Organizations want a new ERP to solve all of today’s problems, have instantaneous user adoption, and effortlessly connect with legacy systems with minimal disruption. In short, they cannot continue using – or invest in a new ERP system – that is plagued with historically systemic issues.
Today’s ERP platforms must solve more than just today’s data integration and performance issues. Decision-makers must focus on how their ERP can support organizational transformation for the long term. By building on existing systems, an ERP will leverage the knowledge, data, and customer relationships that are already established, creating room for market advancement.
Transformation used to be expensive. But today’s ERP systems offer cost-effective ways to centralize and share data, making it accessible to desktops and mobile devices. Transforming routine work creates room for innovation, allowing businesses to remain competitive for the long term.
Scalability for Innovation-Readiness
ERPs have a simple goal: capture and produce information that leads to better decision-making.
If data is inaccessible, it can’t be analyzed or reported. In a business-word that is driven by analytics, companies can no longer afford to have data segregated by departmental silos. They need quick and secure access, real-time information, reported instantly by the people who need it most: leaders and decision-makers.
Today’s ERPs must be fully integrated across all functional areas, not a patchwork of legacy systems, spreadsheets, and separate applications. The information should be easily reported and available where and when people need it, on both desktop and mobile devices, using voice recognition for increased productivity. Quick customization is essential, to reduce associated costs across the organization.
Advanced ERP systems bring numerous benefits in reduced costs and increased productivity. But there is one additional benefit that is often overlooked.
Businesses succeed by bringing ideas to market that offer value to their customers. New ideas come from innovative options to improve or radically shift today’s offerings. To achieve innovation readiness, firms must be able to scale their financial, technical, physical, and human resources to make room for tomorrow’s innovations – quickly.
ERPs allow firms to scale all aspects of their operations by making it easier to do the work that needs to get done. Whether it’s using advanced workflows, reporting in real-time, or tracking staff training, ERPs provide the foundation for tomorrow’s growth.
Using the Four Enterprise Technology Fundamentals to select your ERP
When it’s time to choose your ERP system, you’ll want to avoid the problems caused by lengthy customization timelines, high overall costs, roadblocks to scaling operations, user adoption issues and reporting. In addition to your system requirements and budget, look to these four fundamentals to guide your choice of ERP vendors.
Fundamental #1: Licensing Costs
Committing to a multi-year license is an expensive endeavor that must be carefully evaluated to answer the question is this ERP system financially viable for the long term? Your ERP decision is affected by:
- Cash flow requirements. ERP licensing costs will impact cash flow especially for growing firms and may affect routine operating costs like payroll, leases, inventory, and other routine business expenses.
- Scalability for Innovation Readiness. Innovation readiness is the key to business growth and a system that allows you to scale your business is critical to your long-term success.
- IT Bandwidth. Understanding your IT department’s ability to support your ERP now and in the future will affect how much you must invest in licensing, maintenance, and support.
- Staying with the Status Quo. If you fall into the trap of saying “no” based on licensing costs alone, you won’t be able to take advantage of solutions that help your company grow without breaking the bank or disrupting users.
Fundamental #2: System Maintenance and Support
The type of support you’ll need is dependent upon your core technology. If you have the in-house talent to support your core technology, you’ll have more flexibility in the type of maintenance and support you’ll need for the long term. However, long term system support must be part of your maintenance plan and the best ERP vendors have skilled staff in place to help you.
Fundamental #3: System Flexibility
ERP systems must integrate with external vendor platforms, handle complex financial and banking transactions, support your growing sales staff, accommodate payroll for a growing workforce, and manage your warehouse, manufacturing and logistics functions. Your ERP system should easily integrate with growing platforms and support your internal operations without overtaxing your IT resources.
Fundamental #4: Usability
The most expensive ERP system will fail if users won’t adopt it. That’s why the interface must be intuitive, flexible, provide the information users need – fast. Choose an ERP with an intuitive interface and streamline the implementation process and make it easy for users across all departments to quickly adopt the ERP’s functionality.
In addition to ease, the ERP must be secure. Role-based access is critical to the security of your company’s information and allows users to get the information they need whether in the office or on the go.
Focus surpasses the competition
The issues of mergers and acquisitions, legacy systems, pricing fluctuations and changing political climates are challenges inherent in the oil and gas industry. The industry remains under pressure to bring innovative products to market to satisfy global consumer demand for traditional and renewable energies at competitive price points.
Recent mergers and acquisitions have left many organizations with a patchwork of systems that add to the complexity of running their multinational organizations. One oil and gas company sought out an ERP solution that addressed their need for system customization, cost effectiveness, integration and scalability, ease of user adoption, and enhanced reporting.
After a deep-dive analysis of 25 ERP systems, this leader in the oil and gas industry chose Focus 9 ERP because it addressed their need for creating scalability, anticipating volatile product pricing, managing global inventory, offering mobile access to field personnel, and providing customer support tools.
Focus 9 ERP allowed this global company to embrace innovation throughout their organization by building in the capacity to address changing consumer demand, quickly react to competitors, and build a foundation for meeting both today’s and tomorrow’s business objectives.
Focus 9 ERP offers functionality that is unique in the industry:
- Drag and Drop Customization. Using industry-specific templates, Focus 9 ERP makes it easier to customize the application to your specific needs, reducing time, cost, and effort.
- End to End Application. All modules are in one application, so no need to pick and choose what you need.
- Voice Recognition – NEW! Making it easier to record and access information
- Finance and Accounting – including Receivables and Payables, and Fixed Asset Management
- Sales and Marketing – CRM, campaigns, and sales projections
- Procurement, Inventory, and Warehouse Management Systems – to better manage all supply chain operations
- Human Capital Management (HCM) – integrated recruiting, payroll, onboarding, and training
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) functionality – from prospecting to contracts, everything you need to attract and retain customers
- Report writer – Includes real-time advanced financial, accounting, KPI and Dashboards
- Flexible Computing – built on a unique AI / Hybrid model platform with Thin Client to provide faster access, anytime and anywhere
- Intuitive Web and Mobile Interface- for sales or field teams on the go
Our solution minimizes the burden of extensive customization and excessive cost while maximizing employee productivity through streamlined on boarding.
Managing people, products, and business operations using advanced AI technology and voice recognition is what differentiates Focus 9 in our industry – and scales your business for the future.
Who we are
Focus Softnet is a leading provider of the latest generation ERP and CRM systems. With over 25 years of experience, and 27 offices in 17 countries, we have the unique ability to serve over 30,000 clients. Our unique ERP platform connects departments that include Accounting and Finance, Logistics, HR, Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service at a competitive price that gives our clients the capacity to innovate and grow.