With the year 2014 in the history books, most have shifted their focus into 2015. The New Year means a lot of promises from getting in shape to going back to school. Early in the year gyms may be overcrowded and universities may see increased enrollment but, in most cases, these resolutions are short lived. Why? They are purely individual with only one person to hold you accountable for seeing that your goal gets completed.
Instead of a personal resolution, why not shift the focus and make a change that will last? Promising to invest in your business, where dozens of employees eagerly await the changes, is worthwhile and more likely to be seen through to fruition. One of the best and most intelligent investments a business can make is in technology that can make the operations run more smoothly. An ERP solution, or Enterprise Resource Planning system, is a good place to start, considering that it will reap benefits for almost every aspect of the organization.
When considering your ERP options, keep in mind that there is a vast different between an update and an upgrade. Updates are smaller changes made to existing software that do not affect the interface or navigability, but may increase certain functions or fix specific bugs with that version of the software. Upgrades, on the other hand, are often major software overhauls that have a new look and contain a number of new features while making previous functions obsolete. While updates are usually free, software upgrades can be costly and may require hardware upgrades, too. Because of this, it is important to know which one you need before you invest both your time and money in a new system.
Updates and upgrades are important for ERP systems for a variety of reasons, five of which will be outlined in more detail below.
In the same way that companies shouldn’t feel pressured to implement new technology because they “have to,” software upgrades shouldn’t happen just for the sake of technology. Sometimes ERP vendors stop providing upgrades or software support for the existing version and in such cases, upgrading your ERP software becomes a must. Even so, there should always be a clear benefit for investing in a new system, especially one that outweighs the financial cost.
When upgrading an ERP system, the company should expect to receive a return on their investment in addition to other clear benefits. These benefits may include a more efficient procedure or streamlined business operations. With an ERP system, companies can be sure that they will reap the benefits across many different areas of the business, further legitimizing their investment.
With a typical lifespan of 15-20 years, ERP systems allow an organization to manage and automate many back office functions related to technology, services and human resources. The benefits of streamlining and integrating all aspects of business operations can last for many years but in order to ensure that these benefits continue, it is important to execute periodic upgrades on the ERP system. If these upgrades are ignored, the lifespan of the system can be reduced by as much as half.
One of the major strengths and selling points of an ERP system is that they are designed and tailored based on the specific goals of the company. With short and long-term goals in mind, businesses choose to invest in the system to help keep them on track to meet these goals. Many strategic plans, however, span across a series of years, enduring market changes that may negatively affect the original plan of the company. If the company’s business objectives or relevant market conditions have changed, then it is time to upgrade the ERP system accordingly. The system should be reconfigured to the new, or slightly adjusted, goals of the company before continuing along with the strategy.
In the business world, everything comes down to the bottom line. Efficiency is one of those magic words that financial leaders love to hear. Why? It means a reduction of costs as well as a potential decrease in the amount of labor needed to get tasks completed. When quantifying the effects of upgrading your ERP system or keeping your operations as they are, your company can make a cost-based decision that best aligns with your company’s budget and strategy. Long-term costs of ERP systems can be kept under control by performing periodic updates, while reaping the benefits of integration instantly.
As mentioned in the previous section, a cost analysis can be critical to making a decision on updating your ERP software. In this process, it is easy to skimp out on a necessary purchase for the sake of saving a few dollars. For this reason, companies should keep in mind other opportunities that can arise from investing in a new ERP system. Companies can enjoy benefits including increased communication, efficiency, productivity and visibility of day-to-day operations. In this streamlining process, companies can often identify business opportunities, clarify their competitive advantage and focus on the areas where it excels.
With the New Year still fresh, you have time to make the important decisions that will shape 2015. Start investing in a new ERP system or a necessary upgrade for your business, and reap the benefits of an efficient and well-functioning, money-making process.
Bio: Deanna Ayres is the SEM Strategist and Community Outreach Supervisor at The Marketing Zen Group & TGO Consulting. She loves to come up with new content strategies for and with her team and believes that connecting on a personal level is vital to success. Growing up in Europe has allowed her a unique insight into cultural differences in business & marketing. In her spare time she is a photographer, hobby cook with a love for coffee, gamer and geek. Follow her @deanna_ayres