While enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is near-ubiquitous in manufacturing these days, with many companies large and small having invested heavily into solutions years or decades ago, there is always room for change and innovation within the offering. As the global business climate has changed, along with many companies’ individual needs, so have the ERP systems that helped them run effectively. And if someone believes that they can forget about the marketplace once their implementation is finished, they’re missing out.
Dominic Telaro, the director of industry solutions for I.B.I.S, Inc., stays abreast of these major categorical trends as part of his job, and he says that many of the assets that made an ERP system appealing in the past have changed completely, so much that even software a handful of years old can be woefully inadequate to current needs. And with that in mind, it’s in a company’s best interest to encourage flexibility on every level, so that they’re never on the outside, looking in on the constant influx of ERP innovation.
Telaro says, “This may sound strange, but many companies in the past purchased systems that met a minimum requirement and then modified them to the point that they could no longer upgrade to the last releases of the package.” Because of these modifications, many companies now find themselves unable to upgrade to their provider’s most recent software version, which can contain everything from bug fixes to completely new features. Not being able to act on “new market paradigms,” he says, keeps many manufacturers from competing as well as they could.
“The latest systems on the market have so much new functionality and technology advances that it is unfair to try to compare them to a four-year-old system,” he adds.
So, what’s changed in the world of ERP? What, exactly, are the users of those highly-customized solutions missing out on? Perhaps the biggest revolution in the space has been the increased desire, and need, for collaboration within and beyond an organization’s walls. Today, companies are faced with an increasing number of potential risks, from natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis, to made-made interruptions: strikes, transportation breakdowns and many others.
Telaro says, “Any break in that flow will require immediate communications both within your four walls, as well (and especially) outside to existing vendors, potential new vendors and customers. Being able to use your existing system to connect all these pieces of the puzzle with automation, such as workflow or alerts portals, will simplify and expedite a solution.”