Introducing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) into an organisation results in much tighter financial controls by joining up all of the systems and processes that control an organisation’s resources.
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Traditionally Enterprise Resource Planning was something larger organisations in mature markets embarked on after recognising the need to cut costs in order to remain competitive. Nowadays that is changing and although at the top end products like SAP still rule there are now Enterprise Resource Planning systems on the market suitable for small and medium sized organisations. Filemaker is an excellent product for small companies and can be built specifically to each clients needs, whilst SalesForce.com has expanded from a cloud based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to now offer a full and complete Enterprise Resource Planning capability for medium sized organisations.
Arguably the biggest challenge of introducing any Enterprise Resource Planning system to an organisation is that many staff will fail to grasp the enormity of the change and discipline required to operate joined up systems. This immediately creates a risk of having very expensive software that only a few people internally can understand and use effectively. In the case of Oracle and SAP both products are complex and therefore massively absorbing just to develop and configure, and because organisations have to keep within tight financial and timescale budgetary constraints, many underestimate the investment required to bring staff on board.
The communication and engagement aspects are critical for the programme to be a success. The main focus of that engagement has to be on the specific roles people will be performing and how they feature in any new processes, which are equally important as they define exactly how the organisation is going to change.
Therefore where previously organisations may have relied on local experts in getting around the shortcomings of their outgoing and disconnected systems, to deliver products and services to customers within a joined up Enterprise Resource Planning environment, the opposite is true. You now require people who are not only expert in their part of the process with a very positive and structured approach to improving it over time, but also fully understand and appreciate the context of those processes within the whole enterprise.
In effect traditional ace fire fighters of old are replaced by true change agents which is quite a transformation…
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