ERP stands for “Enterprise Resource Planning” and many organisations do NOT use their ERPs for ERP. Frequently the resource planning for the enterprise gets done somewhere other than in the ERP.
Frankly, if you scratch beneath the surface you will find that most ERP implementations are actually accounting and workflow implementations and there is little or no RP done in the so-called “ERP”!
If the resource planning IS being done in the ERP it is being done in a very tactical and operational manner with absolutely no thought to strategic considerations. Huge unstructured lists are the order of the day associated with huge maintenance bills for expensive contractors on an on-going basis.
As far as the application of information systems in business is concerned, it is better to think in terms of “Integrated Business Information Systems” or IBIS (“ERP Plus” if you like).
Fact is that in my experience I have not encountered a single ERP installation that is not surrounded with other pieces of software. Most ERP implementations live in a sea of customization, Excel spreadsheets and other custom development such that many times the business is hardly using any of the ERP at all.
“Zero customization” is seductive but in real life it is almost universally a myth.
As a basic minimum sub-optimally configured ERP systems immediately create a substantial requirement of customization and custom development outside the ERP.
Accordingly, in evaluating your current system, whether it is labelled “ERP” or not, consider ALL the surrounding systems and custom development and soberly assess how you will replace that system with another system without falling into the same traps again.
It is very easy to believe that your organisation does things differently and therefore customization is called for.
The real criterion of customization is what I term “strategic customization” – custom development that is necessary to support the business to thrive in that, which supports the essence of the business. This criterion requires robust and sober assessment at the executive level associated with high-level strategic advice that ensures that only customization that is really required and that really adds value is entertained.
And remember that you may well end up retaining many of your satellite systems because they are industry specific or perform functions that standard software does not cater for – so replacement of your ERP requires very careful consideration.
James Robertson, James A Robertson and Associates Director