The famous Dutch footballer Johan Cruyff (1947-2016) is known for his contrasting statements, popularly referred to as “Cruijfiaans”. One of the popular statements of Cruyff probably is: “elk nadeel heb zijn voordeel” (every downside has its upside). Today, we shall try to read this statement in the context of current day ERP implementations. Though I never was privileged to become a footballer myself and have become an ERP software enthusiast, I can say like football, ERP is a very dynamic industry where companies are forced to sprint, improvise, innovate and re-invent themselves and their game (solutions) continuously.
Not just the solutions but also the way we work and the way we go to market as a software development company needs to be constantly re-invented to keep up with the pace at which the ERP industry is innovating itself.
Now, here comes the downside of ERP industry:
#1. The work is plenty but the professionals are few.
I work with ERP implementation partners all over the world and I often hear about the crunch of professionals’ in the ERP domain.
#2. The legacy systems are plenty but the upgrade paths are rocky.
Though Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the latest NAV versions with their extension based development make upgrades easier from one version to another, it is still difficult for companies using older versions of the Dynamics platform to upgrade at ease. This is because of extensive customizations for which upgrades do not exist and also because of lack of end of life support. The only way to overcome this bottleneck is re-implementation.
So then, what are the upsides of the above two downsides?
#1. Focus and domain expertise can cut time and money.
Microsoft is increasingly encouraging all its partners to become domain experts for their customers targeting different industries. Partners are investing accordingly to become industry-specific domain experts. This helps bring partners and customers onto one platform where they brainstorm to arrive at what is needed for the business as it grows and also how the solutioning can be done in the best way (often driven by best practices known by the partners’ domain expertise and former experience). A focused approach could effectively cut the confusion and saves time for the actual implementation of the solution which means lower costs for the customer and more time for other projects to work on.
#2. Legacy software is at hand, customizations are banned.
I am convinced that upside number one cannot be realized during an ERP implementation if you do not work with legacy software. In time, legacy software undergoes many customizations and more often than not, the experts who were involved in the same are not likely to present in the current upgrade plan. This leaves room for lot of time-drain where the new resources were to sit again and assess the current systems as changes are not updated in any records spiking the costs in terms of work hours. Companies at this point should consider the best system integrators who can effectively tweak legacy software, and even Microsoft states that Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) that build standard software on top of Dynamics NAV or 365 are more pivotal than ever. Three of the most important benefits are; you can implement faster, do future upgrades faster and can benefit from global industry best-practices.
To conclude, the upsides can only be achieved with both partners and customers working in sync. By doing so, the partners understand the customer requirements better and customers get to leverage the best of ERP solutions to their advantage based on their business needs. This requires a Change Management mindset and organizations need to renew their thinking towards materializing a perfect ERP implementation.