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How companies can address failed ERP implementations

December 4, 2017 • General

Accommodate niche applications, the right tool for the job

Rick Parry of AIGS, local distributor for Progress in Sub-Saharan Africa.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that forklift upgrades to enterprise resource planning (ERP) suites can take years and a small fortune to complete – and then they rarely work as planned.

To rub salt in the wounds, their very failure is frequently the reason for their survival. Too big to fail, they’re allowed to prevail, frequently at the cost of perfectly good legacy functionality.

When upgrading, companies should find ways to accommodate legacy niche application functionality that does the job much better, costs less and whose integration into new business applications is becoming increasingly easier, as multiple systems integration becomes more common.

Horror stories
Business journals are full of stories about failed ERP implementations.

There are the usual horror stories of implementations taking years, costing a fortune and not getting the basics right. Famously, the Avon implementation of 2013 made more work for the door-to-door make-up giant’s reps when it was supposed to relieve them of their admin burden.

The losses can be counted in the enormous cost of such applications, as well as lost opportunity. Nine years earlier, computer great HP fell victim to a complex ERP migration disruption, causing CEO Carly Fiorina to assign blame for a business unit loss partly to the CIO.

But perhaps the bitterest pill of all is the fact that the new monolithic suite frequently fails to provide crucial niche functionality that a company has come to cherish and that sets it apart in the marketplace.

Relooking niche
Just one example in the Progress customer base is the fresh foods company whose legacy ERP solution reached end of life. As many do, the company looked to top global brands for a replacement. But after extensive searches – including a stint of overseas travel – it realised a vitally important fresh food component of its old application could not be matched by anyone out there.

“Another of its ‘legacy’ solutions, which is still supported and provides great service to the business, is written in Progress, so they contacted us to see if we could help,” says Rick Parry of AIGS, local distributor for Progress in Sub-Saharan Africa. “Knowing that our business partner Mozaic Software is active in their ‘niche’ market, we introduced them – and everything fell into place for them.”

In the end, the customer settled for implementing the financials of a new (global) ERP suite along with reinstating its local legacy production component with Mozaic’s help. This perfectly illustrates two unspoken truths of enterprise software:

A one-size-fits-all replacement strategy is often unworkable.
The skills and dedication necessary to manage complex migrations are often found locally.

Added benefits
The beauty of partnering with legacy-supporting vendors like Progress is that their sole objective is NOT to forklift-upgrade every enterprise installation out there. They can be trusted to act as partners to organisations in sticky enterprise migrations.

“Progress provides a robust, easy-to-use and scalable application development alternative to extreme enterprise make-overs,” says Parry. “Our experience suggests that organisations should resist the idea that a total makeover is always the answer. They should also look to modernise the functionality that makes them unique. And only a trusted software partner can be relied upon to invest in the skills and capacity necessary to do that. Quite often, that partner is local.”

What’s your flavour?
The moral? When it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Before running overseas to replace a perfectly good piece of legacy functionality, first consider getting the counsel of a trusted local partner to maintain your value proposition and avoid unintended consequences.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
Follow Fundisiwe Maseko on Twitter
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