It might sound strange at first, but I’d say when you’re thinking about the best way to integrate ERP as part of your business’ broader strategy, it’s worth taking a leaf out of a top chef’s recipe book. Look for an ERP solution that will blend with your other systems and complement your business’s different aspects. Read the menu carefully, check for allergens like low R&D, poor client management and off-target KPIs.
Like the best cooking, ERP solutions should deliver on fusion and balance, not confusion and discord! Give some thought to the fact that when planning to implement an ERP solution, just like baking a loaf of bread, you have to get the science and the maths right before you can start thinking about being creative, trying new shapes and flavours. And just like cooking — it’s always easier to begin cautiously if you’re experimenting with different flavours and textures. Delia Smith’s adage about salt and seasoning, “you can always add more but can’t take it out,” holds true when we’re talking about ERP too. Be careful what you throw into the mix because it can be hard to untangle unwanted ERP technology from your wider IT set up if it doesn’t ultimately fit the bill.
My advice has always been to carefully consider your product and supplier in terms of their implementation methodology. Don’t try and do everything. Thinking again about the cookery metaphor – sometimes just a couple of well-chosen spices can make a dish sing. By contrast, throw in half your spice drawer, and you could end up with a very bizarre concoction.
Don’t get side-tracked and imagine that ERP isn’t relevant if you’re adopting a cloud-first strategy”
Don’t get side-tracked and imagine that ERP isn’t relevant if you’re adopting a cloud-first strategy. ERP is as important today as it’s always been, but its deployment has evolved. While the more traditional practice of operating on-site, single, monolithic ERP platforms for several tasks is still very much used by large corporations, the last decade has seen the introduction of a more decentralised approach to ERP software. Gartner first coined the phrase ‘Postmodern ERP’ to define this more flexible technology infrastructure. I tend to think of it like more informal dining! While primarily driven by the advent of cloud computing, you can host postmodern ERP systems on-premise, in the cloud, or hybrid environments. It all depends on your organisation’s needs.
Consider whether outsourcing, insourcing or shared services are best for your business. Do you need to hire a chef to cater at home for your big celebratory meal, should you go to a restaurant, or do you have what it takes to accept the challenge yourself? There are no wrong answers here, and neither are there when thinking about ERP. This will very much depend on what the business need is and your skillset. Outsourcing to consolidate multitudinal low cost and low-risk processes, for example, can be a good thing. So long as your outsourcing partner offers the opportunity to work with capable providers that can deliver a tangible benefit.
Don’t underestimate the importance of finding an ERP partner that fits your company’s culture and strategy – and understands the market in which you operate. Ask them about their partners so you understand the complete IT ecosphere in which they operate – and the experience they can pull in as they grow and develop. These days, very few people would go to a restaurant without reading at least a couple of online reviews. One can usually swat up the individual chefs at your chosen restaurant too – many of them have their own Instagram and social media channels! Take a few moments to learn about their signature dishes and decide if they’ll be able to cater for your tastes before you take that all-important first bite. And while we’re talking bites – remember to take things at your own pace. Don’t bite off more than you can chew and leave yourself with EPR-induced indigestion.
Hugh Scantlebury, CEO and co-founder, Aqilla