Create a Future-Proof Integrated ERP System
What is a future-proof integrated ERP system?
Some think of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) as a type of accounting or financial system, but it’s so much more than that. It’s an approach to business that shifts data from an adjunct to decision making to the core of decision making. It breaks down silos, enhances communication, improves customer service, and engages all stakeholders into the business process.
To future-proof an ERP system, businesses must choose an ERP system that’s both proven and flexible. They must find a vendor who respects both the current needs of the business as well as considers the future implications of an ERP purchase.
For more details on creating a future-proof implementation strategy, Acumatica and Mindover Software are offering a free Gartner report: Create a Future-Proof Integration Strategy for Your ERP.
Integrated ERP as Strategy, Not Software
More companies are viewing ERP as strategy rather than software. Strategy reflects long-term goals, and the steps taken to achieve them. Software, on the other hand, is but one step or tool used to achieve long-term goals.
According to Gartner, “By 2024, at least 65% of organizations will justify integration capabilities expenditure as strategic investments, up from less than 40% in 2019. By 2022, more than 50% of midsize, large, and global organizations will establish an integration strategy empowerment team to support a self-service integration approach.”
How to Create a Future-Proof ERP Strategy
Few could have guessed in the early 1990s, when the first ERP systems came onto the market, that they would evolve into the strategic assets they are today. Companies who own legacy systems are finding they need greater flexibility to meet the growing demands of their companies.
If your organization has outgrown its current ERP system, there’s good news. Now, more than ever, ERP developers are taking the idea of flexible ERP seriously. They’re designing systems around the end goal as enhanced productivity, visibility, and collaboration, rather than considering their software a stand-alone product. Vendors such as Acumatica are allowing third-party developers, for example, to create APIs that bridge their cloud ERP software with extensions for common office productivity software, e-commerce shopping systems, and much more.
As you’re considering the many options on the market, it’s important to future-proof your choice. To do so, you must consider several factors that will impact how you use your system both now and in the future.
Stand-alone enterprise resource planning systems relied upon complex hardware and site licenses that limited their use to a set number of users. Newer, cloud-based ERP, such as Acumatica ERP, work on any internet-enabled system. Companies have the flexibility to deploy their ERP in-house, using any combination of desktop and laptop models or tablets that suits them. Additionally, cloud software is highly flexible, adapting to a changing organization structure quickly and easily.
Cloud computing is the way of software deployment. Even older office productivity software (the kind you used to buy in a box from an office supply store) has moved to the cloud, with downloads available that offer different options and price points for various needs. Cloud deployment is certainly the best way to “future proof” the delivery mechanism for your ERP system and for future updates.
Bandwidth is more a function of your internet capacity than it is of the system itself, but it is an important consideration for cloud EPR strategies. Cloud ERP makes frequent updates to the system so the data is available in real-time. With data flowing back and forth constantly, as well as many people on the internet at once, can your system handle the workflow?
Talk to your internet provider about expanding capacity, if necessary, to accommodate current ERP needs and future-proofing your system. You may be able to update your current connection or find alternatives to maximize bandwidth.
Roles & Responsibilities
Who among your team will be responsible for deployment, integration, and training? Although some companies may need an integration specialist whose job it is to ensure smooth integration among software, others may find that anyone on their staff becomes an integration specialist depending upon the need.
Some systems make it easy to integrate their software with third party applications. For example, Acumatica cloud ERP offers an open API structure and encourages third-party developers to create software that integrates seamlessly with their systems. The result is happier customers, easier adoption, and smoother integration among common office productivity products. In fact, Acumatica even built the Acumatica Marketplace to make it easy for customers to find third party applications that work well with their base software.
Another step toward future-proofing your system is to take an inventory of your current data and make an educated guess about what data you will need in the future. Gather together a list of all data sources from every part of the company. The list may include:
- Product Development
You may be surprised to find multiple customer lists, for example, existing in separate spreadsheets or database throughout the company. It’s not uncommon for companies to find out that each department has kept its own records. This often happens when legacy systems become so outdated that they are more trouble to use than not. Employees get tired of struggling with the system and, instead, create their own shadow systems.
The goal of conducting a data inventory is simply to record and log all the places where data exists, and in what format, throughout the company. When you finally decide on a new ERP system, you’ll be able to migrate each of these databases into the ERP systems. The list also serves as a guide to help you determine who among your staff may be heavy users of the new ERP system and which departments may need priority training.
Another way to future proof your system is to document the workflow. This means documenting how information flows throughout your company, not necessarily how people are using the current system.
Using an order as an example, you may wish to document how an order moves from a customer through the company to fulfillment. Which steps does the order go through and which department handles each step?
Workflow documentation helps with both setup of new systems and determining integration needs. Potential bottlenecks in the system can be examined and addressed.
Lastly, consider software and systems disconnected from the ERP that may benefit from integration. A good example are word processing and spreadsheet programs (office productivity software). Another may be business intelligence (BI) systems that would enhance the basic model. Make a second inventory of software used throughout your company and how it might benefit from integration.
Can You Really Future-Proof a System?
None of us have a glimpse into the future. Everyone does their best to guess, estimate, and predict what might be on the horizon given the current circumstances.
What we know now is that cloud computing isn’t just a fad. It’s a new way of thinking about software and one that offers so many benefits it’s likely to remain a viable option for years to come.
We also know that enterprise resource planning offers many benefits to companies, and that companies serious about growth, development, and profitability are embracing the benefits that ERP has to offer.
With both of these facts in mind, future-proofing business software means embracing a cloud-based ERP strategy that encompasses ERP integration. It’s one clear path through the future of business software that many companies are following. To remain competitive, taking this path may be a good option for your business, too.
Acumatica Cloud ERP
Acumatica Cloud ERP offers an impressive array of features including accounting, CRM, and business management capabilities. It’s flexible, browser-based interface means you can adapt it to your needs. Select how it is deployed, choose user permissions, customize it—make it what you need to serve your company’s needs the best.
For more information on Acumatica cloud ERP, please visit Mindover Software.
Mindover Software is a software reseller with a broad range of accounting, ERP, finance, customer relationship management, and other software products, including Acumatica software. For more information about Acumatica or other software needs, please contact us or call 512-990-3994.