No organization these days can expect to stay within international standards for efficiency without an updated accounting system. These days accounting systems are more accurately referred to as enterprise resource planning systems (ERP systems) thanks to their more holistic scope compared to earlier types of accounting software. These software suites have the capability to reduce redundancy and delays in business processes, allowing an organization to use less staff and more work in a shorter amount of time.
Unfortunately for many businesses, upgrading to a new ERP system can be a complex and painful process. By the time most organizations start to consider having an ERP system, they are usually already handling a significant volume of transactions. Doing any upgrade will often temporarily interrupt the current flow of different business processes, which can be bad for short term goals.
As we know, many businesses are unfortunately fixated on the short term, which usually leads to significant pushback to any upgrade. However, upgrades are worthwhile in most cases, and the resulting data automation allows companies to better focus on their core competencies and growth.
If you want to improve your organization’s long-term prospects with an ERP system, here are the steps to reduce the difficulty of any such upgrade.
1.) Understand first why you want an upgrade
Many businesses make this mistake, resulting in a needlessly complex and expensive transition to a new system. It’s a mistake to want to upgrade for the sake of it, or to upgrade simply because everyone else is doing it. If possible, an internal audit of your current capabilities may be in order to find areas that you specifically want a new ERP system to solve.
2.) Have a list of objectives for your upgrade
After you have assessed the areas of your business you want to improve, you can then formulate your upgrade strategy in earnest. This often means having a specific set of objectives in mind for one to be able to call an ERP upgrade successful. You can refer to other industry cases to form your own metrics for success.
3.) Consider your staffing requirements
This has less to do with the specific ERP technology and more with what your ERP system vendors and implementers are able to provide your company in terms of training and backend support. Even the simplest ERP systems will require some training to use effectively. If the vendors are unable to provide adequate training or support, this can mean the new system may end up underutilized. In many cases, the lack of training has resulted in the ERP system itself being a source of inefficiency within an organization, rather than a solution.
4.) Assess how much customization you will need
Every business is different. If you have a particularly unique set of processes, this can narrow down the number of ERP suites that you can use “out-of-the-box” or force your business to have to resort to some customization.
Customization is often demanded by a large number of businesses, but in most cases, it’s unnecessary and is only the result of different departments asserting their importance. In other cases, however, some customization can be absolutely vital in order to make the upgrade worthwhile. Be sure to shop around for different systems to see which ones are more easily customizable for your needs.
5.) Set a budget
Different circumstances in your business’s health will dictate how much you can spend on an ERP system upgrade. These days, though, there are certainly a wide variety of low-cost and free ERP suites that may be quite suited for your needs. However, you should try to set aside more in case customizations are necessary.
6.) Choose an ERP system that meets your objectives, staffing, and support requirements that needs the least amount of customization.
After shopping around and assessing different systems, make sure that whatever you choose meets your objectives as well as your staffing and support requirement. Some businesses make the mistake of choosing an ERP system based on price alone or based on the fact that it was the first system presented to them by a salesman.
In any case, it’s usually critical to ensure whatever system chosen will have the least amount of customization possible, and no customization if possible. Unplanned customization tends to make upgrade projects more expensive for little to no returns and greatly increases the chance of system instability, especially when the organization is not willing to dedicate time for testing and fixes.
7.) Consider a modular accounting or ERP system.
Some ERP systems are modular in nature, which means you can simply select the parts you want for your business. While this reduces their theoretical effectiveness across your organization, it can enable you to use a high-quality ERP system in the parts of your business that really need it. You can then simply add on the other parts as your budget allows.
8.) Have a plan for migrating and/or archiving your old data
In cases where having access to your old data is critical, it’s important to account for this access in your upgrade program. This can be difficult for some types of business, and the migration may take months or years if a business is transitioning from a paper-based system. There are different ways to do this and a good implementer should be able to give you a number of recommendations based on your business’s specific requirements.
New enterprise resource planning systems are the only way for Philippine businesses to remain competitive. However, managers and business owners should always consider the specific reasons they are considering an upgrade in the first place.