According to the makers of enterprise software, using standard applications makes life so much easier for IT departments. Users simply plug a business processes into the software’s best practice templates and away they go, writes Hedley Hurwitz, MD of Magix Integration.
Those users who’ve tried this approach know this is far from the truth. In a greenfield project it may actually be possible, but for corporations with years of history and customised processes, it is a nightmare.
Of course the software companies provide development and customisation tools to assist customers in getting their systems running, but there is an ever-increasing shortage of efficient ERP (enterprise resource planning) skills in the market.
Companies can either pay exorbitant salaries to retain the few experts available, or they need to make use of third-party ERP experts to obtain the system efficiency they want.
That’s not to say there aren’t a host of people claiming to have the skills to do the job. The problem is there is a vast difference between knowledge tempered with experience in a real business setting and someone with a head full of theory just out of college.
Third party service providers are forced to maintain a high level of expertise to deliver the service their customers demand. Not only is it a matter of getting paid, but it’s a matter of their brand and eligibility to get future business. Bad news spreads fast and a poorly conceived project that results in cost overruns is not going to garner a good market reputation.
However, it must be noted that calling in a third party when everything has collapsed is no silver bullet. ERP suppliers need to be involved in the process from day one, from pre-sales to the implementation (even if done by in-house staff), through to training, support and maintenance.
Bringing these experts in after things have gone so wrong that they can’t be hidden from the board any longer will simply force them to go back to the beginning and follow the process to determine where the problem is anyway.
Nobody suggests corporations should have no ERP skills on board; in fact, this is also a recipe for disaster. Companies need to have the skills on board that understand and support its business processes, but they should rely on third parties for customisation and integration work to ensure the best skills are applied to the job at the optimal cost.