After many years of comprehensive use, there might come a time when your ERP system requires an update or some technical TLC.
A survey of 225 companies by SelectHub conducted in 2017 found that the average lifespan of an ERP system was 5-10 years. This is not surprising given the level of investment required to implement an ERP solution in terms of capital, time and resources and the complex and ever-changing nature of businesses worldwide.
After a period of years have passed, you may find that the ERP system you currently possess is no longer functioning in the way you want it to due to the high demands placed on it by state-of-the-art business processes.
Considering the cost and scale of a new ERP implementation programme and the teething trouble new software can cause, you’ll want to proceed cautiously before making any big decisions.
With that in mind, here is our quick guide to reviewing your ERP needs and knowing when to update your software.
End of support
The first thing to consider is a relatively simple one. Is your current software version so old that the vendor has ended, or is planning to end, support for it?
This is a very good reason to upgrade. Using unsupported software puts you at serious risk of complete lack of productivity should something go wrong. This lack of support also means you will not be able to deploy any updates, security patches or maybe even customisations that could help you grow the capability of the system. It effectively removes any safety nets that you require to feel confident that your business processes will continue to function normally.
Also, if the software is outdated, the chances are high that when you upgrade other aspects of your infrastructure (operating systems, hardware etc.) compatibility issues will arise.
You are also likely to struggle to integrate the software with other systems – increasing the amount of time spent on manual data entry, and most likely, data duplication.
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Growth and change
Sometimes it is not change brought about by fast-moving technology that causes problems to arise, but the changing nature of your business.
If you are approaching 10 years with your current ERP system, there is every chance that major changes have affected your organisation and it is now unrecognisable from the time of the initial installation.
Perhaps you’ve grown enormously, downsized, shifted into different market, or even absorbed other companies. The need you initially identified and the priorities that informed the implementation of your current software could well be obsolete.
When this happens, it might be a good idea to re-examine the needs of your business and how this relates to your ERP system.
Want to learn more about Epicor ERP 10 and how this new software could improve your business processes? Click here.
In a similar vein to re-examining ERP use in relation to the business’ needs, it is a good idea after a number of years to revisit how your core business processes are mapped to your ERP system after several years’ on the same software.
Following a business process mapping exercise, you can more clearly identify the part the software plays in each process, and as a result, opportunities for better automation and integration, among other features.
If you have not updated your ERP system for over five years, you may well be missing out on some automation capabilities that newer versions of the software present.
Similarly, if you have not viewed your business processes through this lens for a long period of time, it is easy to get caught in a loop and accepting inefficiencies that can be easily resolved with new software.
Just one recent edition to the Epicor ERP feature list is SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), which provides a more flexible solution to the Crystal Reports that Epicor 9 users will be familiar with.
Want to learn more about SSRS? Click here.
Access to more functionality
Finally, updating to the latest version of your ERP software gives you access to better capabilities and expanded functionality, opening up opportunities for automation, efficiency savings and integrations that you could not have achieved before.
Whether or not you need this functionality will be addressed during your ERP requirements assessment.
That being said, newer ERP systems bring a number of features that many businesses would benefit from, such as the ability to host in the cloud, increased mobility, better usability, and of course, improved speed!
And that is without even going into more specific modules and business functions and the technologies which will enhance those.
Whether or not you need to update your ERP system is really down to your business and its specific needs and goals.
As always, we advise that you start by examining what your business needs to achieve and how ERP can support this.
Map out inefficiencies within your current system and begin research on the available systems that will support improvements.
This exercise will tell you everything you need to know.
Want more specific advice and guidance on upgrading your ERP system? Get in touch here and a Clear Business Outcome specialist will be happy to help.