5 years ago we first published a series of posts entitled “Software That Matters.” It was an ERP implementer’s point of view, culled from long experience, on why and how to purchase a business management software system. Later, we turned Software That Matters into a popular white paper that has since been viewed hundreds of times.
After five years, we thought it was time for an update, to reflect lessons learned since then. As it turns out, the vast majority of what we said then remains every bit as true today. Still, five years is a long time… so we decided to carefully retrace our steps, re-edit our paper, add some comments and present it as a series of blog posts that will carry us through November, 2015. We think that’s timely, as many companies at this time of year tend to reconsider the software they use to run their business — and how they might do better.
In our series we will again try to convey what’s important, what to measure, how to buy, what works, what it costs… and the many other business considerations required of this strategic investment, in what is probably the most important (and expensive) software a company will ever buy. In other words, the Software That Matters.
Today we offer post #1 in our series. We hope you find it of value and welcome your feedback.
Simply put, we do ERP. And after 25 years of doing it, we believe buyers of ERP systems can learn from our experience.
ERP is Enterprise Resource Planning, a fancy moniker for the software that keeps businesses running. Broadly speaking, we’re talking here about accounting, inventory control, MRP (Material Requirements Planning), manufacturing workflow, shop floor control, managing throughput in the warehouse or on the shop floor, as well as other critical business areas like customer relationship management (CRM, another of those bulky, three word monikers) and web store development (or ecommerce, i.e., selling what you make or do through the channel of the Internet).
We think of it as software that matters.
In previous blog articles, we’ve touched on some of these elements. We’ve talked about CRM in a multi-part post here: http://wp.me/pBCDO-8X and extensively about WMS (there’s another one – Warehouse Management Systems), including a number of articles you’ll find here: https://pssiusa.wordpress.com/category/general-wms-warehouse-mgmt-articles/
But let’s step back first and look at the bigger picture: What is this stuff, and why is it so mission critical to any company that wants to grow, prosper or these days, even survive? What good comes from it? Who — and what — is involved? What are the costs and what are the benefits to be gained as a result of that investment?
At its core, ERP software is, above all else, a strategic investment. It’s an investment of your firm’s most precious resources — cash and people’s time — in what is best described as a long-term business improvement strategy aimed at substantially, even dramatically, improving your return on that investment (your ROI) in the years following a successful deployment. ERP is front and center in business to improving your operational flow, reducing expenses, eliminating waste, removing redundancy (and the curse of all those spreadsheets), and continuously improving your processes. It’s the on-the-ground implementation of “lean.” And perhaps most importantly, it’s the platform for business growth.
In our next post then, we’ll take a look at where to start, and the one critical question you need to ask in order to get started. Stay tuned…