Monday, November 4, 2013

When to Upgrade your ERP Solution

The pain associated with upgrading or replacing an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system can often be equated to open heart surgery without anesthesia.  It is not a comfortable situation.  No way around it, there will be a lot riding on any new implementation.   Carriers can rise or fall on the success of a project of this magnitude.    Upgrades can be a little less strenuous, but that too depends on the amount of time passed since any maintenance has been done and number or releases skipped.


In contrast if your organization has picked a solution that matches its enterprise processes and has minimized its modifications, then you are in an enviable position.  It means that you found a good solution, have a great relationship with your ERP vendor and embrace change.  I am not saying any of these things are easy.  When they align with your organization’s mission it becomes easier to stay current.  The work does not go away, but the dues have been paid and the results of staying current are the benefit.  Do you want to work now, upfront or later on an ongoing basis?


Staying current is a critical component to great customer service. 


In what way are you letting your customers know that you value their business?  Saying thank you is a good start.  Showing them that you recognize their changing needs by keeping current is putting your money where your mouth is.  It is one thing to say you value your customers and it is another to show them.


So, when is a good time to upgrade? 


Upgrading only for the sake of upgrading is not a very good reason.  The component to consider is the vision of the future of your particular industry.  What is the Star Trek future vision of your industry?  What would go beyond really-cool and actually make doing business with you an opportunity to grow a relationship. 


Customer satisfaction goes beyond making it easier to do business with you.  It is all about the relationship. 


Ask yourself if you would still purchase from one of your suppliers if their price was a little higher than a new vendor that showed up at your door.  What if the price difference was a lot?  Would the supplier you have used for the last decade work with you to be more competitive, perhaps in ways other than just price, like availability?


Upgrade and new installation projects do not exactly have stunning success rates in general.


Successful implementations do have a common theme.  A project manager, a lot of planning, research and a tough-love approach.  The last thing that you need is a yes-yes person.   It takes a willingness to get out of your comfort zone and to be willing to look at what you are doing with a new set of eyes.


I remember years ago when a friend bought a new red compact pickup truck.  He made sacrifices to get the truck.  I was generally aware that they existed, but it was not until he bought it and was customizing it that I started seeing that type of truck all over the place.  I was now “aware” that there was something else out there.  He wanted a customized solution that represented his vision.  He had vision.  He did not change the truck, it was still a truck.  He changed the way the truck met his needs.  I was now aware of how his customized solution took the basic and tailored it to his needs. 


Other indicators of the need to change. 

·         It takes too many steps, and in particular, manual steps to complete a task.

·         There are too many separate systems. 

·         There are significant differences between book inventory and perpetual inventory values.

·         You have a sense that it is takes too many people to complete simple tasks.

·         You spend too much on technology support.

·         Your customers are doing more business with the competition.

·         You signed on to your own web site and could not figure out how to place an order, could not find a phone number to call or you could not find reach a human being that would listen and let you know that they understood your challenge (regardless of how trivial).

·         Is your ERP solution the solution that supports the majority of business applications and is the repository for the corporation’s information?



When was the last time you called your own customer service department and pretended to be a potential new customer to see how your customers are treated?


The decision to upgrade or implement a new solution is not an information technology decision.  It has to be a business, a business process decision.  Senior management must take ownership of the decision process.  Too much rides on the outcome.


Upgrades should be periodic and deliberate. 


The upgrade decisions must be aligned with the strategy of corporate vision.  The costs must be justified.  They need a project plan and general consensus.  The resources needed must be identified and available.  The alternative is rapid technological obsolescence.


ERP solutions are a critical component of any organization on a growth path.  As many business processes need to be incorporated and integrated in the solution.  The more fully an organization is integrated, the more operational efficiencies can be obtained.  Automation and integration is how you stay competitive.


ERP changes are also a great time for companies to evaluate their current processes and look for opportunities to eliminate custom software, unneeded modifications, and third-party or legacy systems in order to simplify their environments and lower costs of ownership.


Making the decision is not always easy, but the benefits are worth the effort if the process is done right.


What are you doing to streamline your organization?   We would like to hear what you have to say and learn what you are doing.  Contact us today.  We are here to help.  Dolvin Consulting works with manufacturing, distribution and specialty retail companies to help them streamline their computer operations, reduce costs and become more profitable.



  1. Yes Upgrading to a new ERP solution can be painfully, but if done in the right way and with the right partners it could be quiet easy and painless. That why before diving in this procedure, take your time and do a good analysis. This at the end will save you time, money and stress.
    And just in case here nice article that will help you understand what is a ERP system and why you need it.

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