Times have changed, technology has changed and business has changed. With all that in mind, Immo Böhm, MD of Sage ERP X3 partner Afresh Consult, sits down for a little heart-to-heart with the old software that’s been running the business all these years.
He says such a chat is necessary to be sure that the “old faithful” system hasn’t gone from being an enabler to an inhibitor to continued success. And it all comes down to six core questions that must be asked of the ERP solution if it is to perform in the modern business world.
Does it do functionality, not complexity?
Businesses are looking for less complexity, but not at the expense of functionality. Does it deliver deep and broad first-class functionality, while remaining simple to implement and to use? Does it deliver all the requirements users need, but all within a simple, integrated design?

Is it integrated or interfaced?

A sure sign that the ERP solution is getting old is when it has become a system with all kinds of extras bolted on. Software integration no longer means applications that work together. They should also exchange real-time information, share a common database and user interface and, more importantly, they should evolve together.
Many ERP systems hide functional gaps by in a “modular design”, which often requires custom interfaces and complex maintenance. Users need to look instead for fully-integrated functionality for accounting and financial management, purchasing, inventory, sales, customer relationship management and manufacturing.

Does it scale, or does it need add-ons?

Evolution means the ability for the ERP system to grow with the business, without requiring costly upgrades or module add-ons. Modern ERP solutions offer an integrated design which provides all the functions a company needs now and into the future, with no additional license charges.
Users should simply activate the functions as needed, with it all there from the beginning. The solution should also be a flexible system that can be easily configured to fit organisational changes as a business grows to thousands of users.

Is it Web-native or just Web-enabled?

Web-native means the solution should be accessible in the same way in both client/server and Web modes. Some ERP software systems may offer a customised Web connection to dedicated functions, but few provide the ability to operate locally or through the Web in the exact same fashion.
Think of the advantage users could enjoy when expanding a business over multiple sites, or as they develop relationships with premier suppliers, partners or customers.
Is it multi-country by design?
Businesses are working in a global village now. Does the software natively support a multitude of languages, allowing all users to access the system in their own language wherever they are, but with country-specific parameters, such as legal and market requirements?

What’s the current cost of ownership?

Users want functionality and ease of use from their ERP solution, but cost of ownership is just as important. Is it designed for rapid implementation and customisation, while still providing advanced features as a standard? And what is the cost of maintaining it, after all these years?

When the answers to these questions are considered honestly and openly, the facts may start to emerge: it could be time to consider retiring the hard-working, but now over the hill, ERP system of the 1990s, and replace it with something able to provide sharper answers in the more connected, always-on world of business today.