Does Your Organization Have
Multiple ERP Systems?
It Might be Time to Consolidate
ERP Consolidation Can Improve Projects
and the Customer Experience
We’ve written in the past about the benefits of adopting Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software – but what about organizations that are using multiple ERP systems? In this scenario, the conversation shifts from adopting an ERP solution to ERP consolidation.
ERP consolidation works exactly as it sounds: a company will merge its multiple ERP software solutions onto a single ERP platform.
The primary advantage of adopting ERP software in the first place is to centralize core business operations onto a single platform; however, when there is more than one ERP solution at play, that advantage can be hard to achieve.
Understanding ERP Consolidation
There are a few reasons why a company may wind up using multiple ERP systems:
- A merger or acquisition
- Multiple locations nationally or globally
- The addition of new business units
- A multi-tiered business structure
Whatever the reason for using multiple ERP systems, the result is a lack of visibility into all business activities. Information from every department should be readily available and updated in real-time, which allows business operations to flow more smoothly, keeps employees from different departments involved in each step of a project, and, ultimately, improves the customer experience.
Why Do I Need ERP Consolidation?
Companies using ERP systems, especially in the professional services industry, have a lot of moving parts that require constant tracking and reporting to keep employees in all departments on top of business and customer activities.
You wouldn’t provide different forms to collect the same information from leads during a marketing campaign – you would use a single form to funnel all relevant data to one location for easy tracking and analysis. ERP consolidation functions the same way for your business. Rather than collect similar data in multiple places, it should flow into a single source of truth.
Here are some important reasons why your company should perform ERP consolidation:
As previously stated, multiple ERP systems can muddy the waters of your company’s internal data among your product, sales, and finance teams, creating silos and preventing data from being readily available. A single ERP system delivers the visibility needed to accurately track projects and customer information, which has a positive ripple effect on employee productivity, business efficiencies, and the customer experience.
The use of multiple ERP systems generally includes payments to multiple vendors to manage those ERP systems. Consider how much of an impact more than one system is having on your bottom line – the answer may surprise you!
Smarter Business Decisions
Consolidating your ERP systems requires your company to review its existing systems and either select one for the consolidation, or identify an entirely new ERP solution. Only by conducting a consolidation review can you pinpoint your exact ERP business needs.
The act of ERP consolidation also forces your company to review all of the data and processes being managed by your ERP system. During this time, companies often realize different ways of doing business on the ERP system or identify new areas of the business that can be optimized through ERP.
Like most business process changes, ERP consolidation typically requires time, effort, and cost, but the ROI of gaining enterprise-wide visibility and ultimately improving the customer experience are sure to pay dividends.
How to Execute ERP Consolidation: Do’s and Don’ts
With all the data being tracked, analyzed, and reported on each ERP system, consolidating multiple ERP systems can be somewhat involved.
Before getting started, it’s important to understand consolidation best practices to ensure a smooth transition that accommodates your business operations and keeps employees at the forefront of the changes.
DO choose an ERP system that fits your organization’s business and departmental functions. Keeping an ineffective legacy system to save money or time will only result in greater costs and productivity losses down the road.
DON’T neglect to run an audit or assessment of all core processes being executed in each existing ERP system. Only by identifying current activities can you select an ERP solution that will accommodate everything that will be part of the consolidation. Further, this exercise is a great opportunity to identify any processes or practices that need to be updated or adjusted due to compliance or industry changes.
DO ensure that your ERP system of choice is scalable with your organization’s digital journey. Mobile-friendly, cloud-based, collaborative technologies are all critical to enabling your company’s growth within its ERP solution – without having to go back to the drawing board.
DON’T leave employees out of the loop. Ensure they are aware of the consolidation effort and provide a window of time for input and feedback from each department. You may learn something critical that impacts your ERP system selection.
The bottom line for ERP consolidation is to select a solution that will improve your business operations once the consolidation is complete. It is only by understanding where you are now that you can identify the best ERP system to get you where you want to go – and if you ask us, where you want to go is in the direction of exceptional customer experiences.
The Important Correlation Between a Consolidated ERP Solution and the Customer Experience
From the simplest reasoning (multiple ERP systems are confusing for my employees) to the more pointed (disparities in financial data are impacting business operations), the one commonality in the argument for ERP consolidation is improving the customer experience.
You know enterprise-wide visibility into operations is important – but let’s talk about what it really means for your business and your ability to better serve your customers.
For example, it’s one thing to want connectivity between your Finance and Operations departments. It’s another thing to understand how that connectivity enables Operations to reach out to Finance to verify paperwork because a go-live date has passed but the project hasn’t yet begun. In this very real context, it’s easy to see how small oversights due to a lack of visibility can impact the customer experience.
Here are a few examples of how improved operations, cross-collaboration, and deeper insights can lead to better customer experiences.
Improving the employee experience. Easy-to-use, modern ERP systems that work the way your business works make your employees’ lives easier, which leads to increased morale and a feeling of greater fulfillment and connectivity to the work they’re doing. Happy, motivated, productive employees translate to improved customer service and business growth.
Identifying new business opportunities. ERP systems leverage rich analytics to validate operations or illuminate business needs. By applying analytics to a single source of connected data, you’re suddenly privy to new opportunities to streamline department functions that may not have been clear before, opening up new ways to improve the customer experience.
Being able to pivot and be flexible. Market conditions are always changing – some more than others depending on your industry. The analytics provided by your single ERP system allow you to enter new markets and exit existing ones quickly and effectively, taking advantage of new and enhanced service offerings to engage your customers and meet their needs.
Driving sales and growth priorities. By connecting sales and services on a single platform, you can forecast using opportunities and existing projects. Compare industry trends with existing customer requests and behaviors to identify new products or offerings to pursue, or new industries to target. These actions demonstrate that your company is listening to your customers’ needs and adapting to meet them and stay relevant.
Making smarter staffing decisions. Staffing can be a major challenge for businesses – and one that directly impacts the customer experience. Your ERP system can provide visibility into existing projects and resourcing needs so you can make better staffing decisions and set reasonable business goals based on staffing capabilities. Don’t risk being short-staffed during a large project, or taking on a project without the appropriately skilled staff to handle it.
Is an ERP Consolidation Right for My Business?
Being in control of the tools and solutions that guide your business operations also puts you in control of the customer experience. You empower employees in sales, service, finance, staffing, and other critical departments to fully understand the project lifecycle and how their role impacts the customer experience.
While we would argue that ERP consolidation will benefit any business, we do advocate for a thorough gut check before beginning the consolidation process. You want to make sure the consolidation will be effective and put your business in a stronger position than it was previously.
Here are some quick tips for determining if an ERP consolidation is something your business should pursue:
Take stock of the financial picture. Be sure you understand what your current process is costing you, and how much a new system and consolidation effort would cost. These numbers include licensing, security, utility costs, hosting, tech support, staff training, and other business costs that could be incurred during the onboarding process. While ERP consolidation will provide ROI, it is important to do the up front calculations.
Consider your employees. The ERP consolidation process may be more involved or even hit a dead end if you have many employees who are not amenable to adopting new technology or workflows. An ERP consolidation will not work if there is an unwillingness within your company to change.
Do the research to make a smart choice. Everyone in your organization works differently and has different needs. A challenge with ERP consolidation is identifying a single solution that will effectively take the place of your current workflows. Consider vendor reviews or case studies to fully understand your potential ERP solution, and weigh that research against your current operational costs, employee pain points, and areas of inefficiency. If the system will address those issues and then some, you can be confident that you’re making a smart business decision.
If your business has multiple ERP systems, you’re already aware of the benefits these solutions can provide. Now, imagine consolidating those currently disparate benefits into one powerful solution at the center of your entire organization.
Consolidation of your ERP systems onto FinancialForce ERP, built on the Salesforce cloud platform, is a powerful way to unify and share data across all departments within your business. Contact us today to schedule a demo and learn more about how you can leverage FinancialForce ERP to streamline your operations and put your customers at the center of everything you do.