When a business decides it is time to refresh their ERP implementation, a common dilemma is: upgrade or migrate? Depending on a few factors; the position of the business, budget, relationship with current supplier, reason for updating – the decision can be made with varying degrees of difficulty.
As always, we aim to make your life easier when it comes to ERP. There are often clear benefits to either avenue, but there can be pitfalls too.
Here are some key things you might want to consider in the migrate vs upgrade debate.
Reasons to migrate to a new ERP system
You have outgrown the current system
As a business grows, so must its infrastructure. More customers, staff members and geographical locations require investment in hardware and software. Whether you have arrived at the decision to refresh your ERP system because of rapid growth, or your current software is significantly outdated and you are now in an entirely different position than when you first invested, you may find that you have outgrown the current vendor’s architecture. It is likely you will require additional functionality and capabilities that you cannot get from the incumbent. That is why putting together a statement of requirements document is a great starting point for this kind of project – and do not be tempted to reuse the original one! Having this kind of document early on will help you to approach a range of vendors to find the solution that matches your requirements.
Mobility and cloud capability
Related to the point above, as result of reviewing the requirements and specific needs of the business at the time of refresh, you might discover that you require more options and flexibility around availability. While many modern ERP systems (Epicor included) support cloud and offer flexibility around mobile, it is possible that your incumbent may not. Closely relating your statement of requirements template to the overall goals of your business will help you decide how important this kind of capability is. And even if various solutions do support cloud and mobile, it is useful to get into the detail of each one to see how powerful and well suited to your business their approach is.
Potential cost savings
Going back out into the marketplace for your ERP software puts you in a strong position to negotiate savings. Vendors will be more than happy to entice you away from your incumbent, so you can play this quite nicely. Negotiate discounts, get proof of concept/trial periods, and make a play for extended support. Putting yourself out there opens you up to opportunities to save.
You will need to do a lot of the prep work anyway
Even if you eventually make the decision to remain with your incumbent and upgrade, this project should start with a statement of requirements document and review of your current processes and mapping to your ERP system. As you are doing this piece of work anyway, it makes sense to look to the marketplace for other solutions and consider a wider range of options.
Reasons to upgrade your current ERP system
Humans, generally, do not like change. Whether that is changing coffee brand or using a new piece of software at work, it is just something we often approach with caution. The risk of migrating to a whole new ERP system is that you will lose the buy-in of your end-users, not to mention the potential costs involved with re-training them on the new software. Upgrading with your current vendor means that there will be some degree of familiarity with the system, making the transition for end users more smooth.
Transfer your customisations
More often than not, an ERP system will not have been able to serve a business and fulfill all of its needs out of the box. There is likely to be some degree of customisation to the system, be that light or heavy. Upgrading within the same ecosystem often makes it easier and less time-consuming to transfer across customisations, dashboards and reports. Within Epicor, tools like Cirrus enable you to migrate all of your customisations through a web-based portal.
Potential cost savings
On the other side of the coin, if you are paying a maintenance or support fee to your current supplier, you may in fact receive a like-for-like upgraded version of the software for little or no increase in license cost. The value you get from this saving will be highly dependant on how long it has been between investing and upgrading. To get into the detail on whether migrating or upgrading offers the bigger cost saving overall, it is useful to look at total cost of ownership over a period of around five years, and compare them in that way. Don’t forget, even if there are savings to be had, an upgrade project still requires careful planning and a notable amount of time to help end users to extract the maximum business value out of the new software.
Get some expert advice
With so many factors and stakeholders involved, either option can seem risky. If you migrate, you are moving away from “what you know”. If you upgrade, are you missing out on cost savings and better functionality from elsewhere? Ultimately, it comes down to what the business needs from the ERP system, and which solution is the best fit overall. If you would like more advice on upgrading your current ERP system, or selecting a new one, get in touch.