Today’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a far cry from the cumbersome and expensive systems of the past. With the cloud, mobility, and machine-learning taking centre stage on the corporate agenda, the evolution of ERP has become as much a symbol of the times as it has a business imperative.
Traditional ERP approaches were often difficult to implement and took months to integrate effectively with existing systems and processes. Typically, only large enterprises had the funds to go the ERP route with the rest of the market having to make do with cobbled-together solutions hardly designed for such a mission-critical role. However, despite its level of importance, ERP was predominantly focused on finance and accounting with little regard given to the rest of the business.
And when it came to bespoke development, the off-the-shelf ERP solution was not something that could be effectively customised for company-specific requirements. Granted, this was not only limited to ERP but to many other IT systems at the time. For the better part of two decades, ERP was kept as the preserve of those who could afford it and had the patience and resources to ensure its effective implementation.
A new world
During the past few years this has changed. There has been a resurgence in ERP not just because of what it can do for an organisation but as reflective of how it has grown to be more in tune with current trends and business approaches.
While it might seem unfair to paint ERP as a picture of the slow-moving behemoth of the past, there was certainly the perception that it was just that. Whether it is thanks to the changing importance of data or an increased awareness of what ERP can deliver, this was no longer the case.
In many respects this can be attributed to how technology has permeated every facet of business. Even CIOs are no longer seen as just being responsible for managing hardware and software inside the organisation but as integral to its success when it comes to embracing new innovations for competitive advantage. With the modern enterprise moving away from the silo approach, ERP has a key part to play in ensuring there is collaboration and integration that takes place between systems.
Reinvention of the enterprise
Business agility goes together with the shift towards the digital environment. And while it might seem contradictory to say, ERP is essential to this. Companies must operate in a real-time environment if they are to differentiate themselves and continue to be relevant.
ERP has been instrumental in this. The modern, more flexible incarnation is now all about empowering decision-makers to perform their jobs more effectively by giving them the opportunity to focus more on implementing strategy and less on back-end system integration.
The glue of the modern business is ERP keeping all components running smoothly and in unison. Thanks to virtualisation and the cloud, ERP has also become affordable to even small companies giving them the ability to ‘pick and choose’ the elements most important for their current business needs. And because its focus is less on just managing the books and paying accounts, ERP can also be better customised to more dynamic business needs.
The business scenario in which ERP works is far removed from its traditional roots. Say hallo to a more nimble, adaptable, and cost-effective enterprise world.
By Stuart Scanlon, managing director of epic ERP