Deciding finally to upgrade your old accounting system into a modern ERP system is never an easy decision. All too often, we’ve seen that nebulous fear cause many a client to wait too long. Usually, it takes the sunsetting (i.e., discontinuation) and total loss of support for their current product – with maybe a touch of hardware obsolescence and crumbling network infrastructure thrown in – before they’ll finally bite the bullet.
We think that’s because it’s hard to quantify the cost savings and efficiencies that will be gained against the much more plainly understood “cost” of the system.
All too often our constant reiterating wail to clients that ERP is a strategic investment in your business – just like a machine on the plant floor – falls on deaf ears much like the baying of the coyotes outside my windows on an Indiana night.
Just this week a client told us that they are not spending any more money on software for the rest of this year. That’s like saying I’m not spending any more on oil and maintenance for our equipment. The difference? Most businesses have difficulty appreciating that – done right – the improvements to processes and business alike that result from a strategically used ERP system can save five, ten or even 100 times their costs in wasted or redundant labor and other inefficiencies.
Except of course: We’ve always done it this way…
You can’t blame them really. Most folks are coming off “accounting” systems built in the 80s or 90s that mostly documented business ‘transactions’ and not much more when it comes to process improvement. It’s a stretch for them to appreciate that ERP is just the tool we use to codify and standardize business process improvements. It’s not about the software, per se, it’s about the improvements to processes and the reduction in costs that ultimately flow through it, once processes have been realigned and the software is configured to accept them.
It’s hard for clients to wrap their heads around this, when all they know is what’s worked in the past: build better widgets, and increasingly more of them, as cheaply as possible, and all good blessings will flow.
The idea that wide swaths of a business might be “leaned out” through the implementation of improved processes woven into an extensive enterprise management system that makes those changes ‘stick’ takes some education and some getting used to. And it takes an investment in the foundation (like working a little compost into the garden dirt) before the changes can begin to grow and bear fruit. In other words, it can be a leap of faith.
So in the post that follows, we’ll take a high-level look at three steps to weighing the costs of implementation against the cost of continued inefficiency. Stay tuned…