Demand for enterprise software has been consistently growing as a result of its proven effectiveness and high returns. According to a study by Research and Markets, the market for ERP solutions is set to reach $41.69 billion by 2020, reflecting a 7.2% compound annual growth rate from 2014 through 2020. Small and medium enterprises are considered a driver of this growth, particularly with the rising popularity of cloud-based ERP platforms, which have significantly reduced the investment required in these applications.
However, it is also important to note that the use of ERPs in improving business efficiency also comes with some cost, in terms of maintenance and manpower. For one, enterprise systems are more reliable when these are up to date. However, the need to customize these applications for the needs of a business often stands in the way of frequent and regular updates.
Why Businesses May Be Reluctant
Customized code and dependencies in ERP modules could create conflicts that lead to downtimes and outages. This is one reason why businesses need to undertake extensivetesting before migration or update to a new deployment goes live. Consider that poorly-implemented updates can cost millions of dollars in lost revenue, there is always a risk that something will go wrong along the way.
In addition to the possibility of a disaster, change management will require months of tests, patches, and enhancements that an IT team will be heavily invested into throughout the duration of the upgrade. For businesses without the manpower to spare, the cost and effort of having an outdated system is simply lower than doing an upgrade – at least in the short term.
Automation. It’s important to consider that modern ERP testing tools can be augmented with automation platforms that significantly reduces the amount of effort and time it takes to resolve issues during the upgrade process. ERP enhancement should thus be accomplished through automated testing, bug tracking, code cleansing, and analysis. This can all be done through big data analytics. Implementation time and cost can be reduced by as much as 50% through automation.
Workflow Management. In addition to using automation, you can make the update process much more efficient by establishing milestones, breaking down each milestone into bite-sized chunks that could be transformed into tasks, and then formulating a plan for the moment when everything will go live. Getting the entire organization to collaborate – from upper management to individual users – enables them to play their own part in making sure the update goes smoothly.
Infrastructure Availability. On the technical side of things, you will need to ensure that your infrastructure is able to handle the increased load that comes with implementing a new deployment or enhancement package. This also involves cleaning up your data to ensure integrity across data sources.
Change Management. Once your ERP update goes live, you will have to provide a significant amount of support to individuals who are not yet accustomed to the changes. Planning this beforehand can make the situation much less complicated. Ensure that you have enough staff available to aid with the transition, and that stakeholders know their respective roles. It is necessary to ensure the update is smooth not only for the people maintaining the system, but also for those who are entering data into it.
Keeping your ERP platform up-to-date ensures that your business is more productive, particularly through better assurances of business continuity. Through these best practices, the update process can be simplified and automated, and stakeholders will be able to play their proper roles.
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