An aging ERP system is like a house or automobile in that the older it gets the more it needs to be maintained. And, like a house or car, at some point it makes sense to purchase a new one rather than continue to fix the old one.
Estimates vary, but ERP systems typically have a lifespan of between seven and 10 years – although, with today’s rapidly evolving technology, that may be pushing it.
While it’s tempting continue to squeeze as much life as possible out of a legacy ERP system, doing so may be counterproductive. Legacy ERP software can have significant technical or operational limitations and may not be able to support new business opportunities or strategies.
Here’s what you could be missing if you’re using a solution developed and implemented more than ten years ago:
1. Comprehensive, Real-Time Data Access
Today’s business climate requires up-to-the-minute data for fast, informed decision-making. Older ERP systems may be able to adequately administer or report on data within the four walls of the company but are not able to supplement internal data with external data. Modern ERP systems can pull in new data across multiple, easily connected solutions and platforms, and update large data warehouses continuously, allowing you to view real-time data from business, but also show you what’s going on in your internal/external ecosystem.
2. Robust Business Intelligence
Older ERP systems often have shortcomings when it comes to analyzing data. Typically, business users must ask IT to create custom reports in order to see critical information and show important business trends. But modern reporting toolsets are more user-friendly and intuitive, and can pull information from across the organization. And self-service capabilities free up IT by allowing users to create and manage their own reports tailored to their role and needs.
3. Mobile Access
If employees need to be physically present at their desks, or even at a computer, to access ERP system features, you may be missing out on opportunities. Modern cloud ERP systems and low-cost thin client devices and tablets break down physical and virtual walls, and let employees be more productive by enabling access from the factory floor or on the road.
4. Seamless Integration
Monolithic single-solution ERP systems are giving way to fit-for-purpose applications, especially in the areas of customer relationship management, manufacturing execution or product configurators. Today’s businesses require real-time data and robust business intelligence from across multiple solutions. However, to do that with older ERP software often necessitates custom, brittle integrations that cannot be replicated easily when new technology, such as a CRM system, is added. Newer ERP systems often use open APIs so that it’s easy to transfer data from one system to the other, eliminating a lot of time spent connecting data sources and software.
5. Easier Maintenance and Upkeep
Legacy ERP systems are inherently more difficult to maintain and require highly knowledgeable IT staff to fine-tune them for optimal performance. And often, problems are not so much with the solution itself but because the business has not upgraded the solution in a timely manner or kept current on the latest release. The architecture of modern cloud ERP systems all but eliminates the need to maintain and update the solution, as the responsibility for upkeep of these solutions falls to the cloud ERP vendor.
The bottom line: Older ERP systems can’t meet the demands of modern businesses. Without an upgrade, you may miss out on opportunities to innovate and gain a competitive edge.
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