Upgrading ERP Software: How to Plan Your Strategy
Early iterations of ERP software provided an off-the-shelf solution for businesses looking to unify internal processes and workflows. Static functionality served to consolidate in-house systems that proved tricky to integrate, particularly in the fields of HR and supply chain management.
Now, however, things are changing. ERP software has adapted to the modern business landscape, incorporating emerging technologies like cloud computing, blockchain, and artificial intelligence. But what does this mean for businesses running early versions of the tech? Should they upgrade, and if so, when?
In this guide, we’re taking a look at the what, why and when of upgrading ERP software, so you can devise a strategy that meets the needs of your business.
- Upgrading an ERP System: Why and When Should You Do It?
- What Are the Benefits of Upgrading ERP Software?
- Should You Upgrade or Replace ERP Software?
- ERP Upgrade Checklist
Upgrading an ERP System: Why and When Should You Do It?
The decision to upgrade ERP software is, of course, subjective. If your current system is operating at peak efficiency, you may see little point in disrupting workflows with a full upgrade.
How, then, can you ascertain the right time to upgrade your ERP? Start by asking yourself the following:
- Does the ERP solution deliver for the needs of the business, across every department?
- Is the current iteration of the system stifling growth plans?
- Are there any newly-introduced processes or business opportunities which could benefit from upgraded ERP?
- Have technical issues become more frequent as the system has aged?
- Are there any areas of the business whose efficiency could be bolstered by an ERP upgrade?
- Is the current version of your ERP in, or soon entering, legacy status with your Vendor? (i.e., at risk of no longer being supported)
If you’re in doubt about the why and when of upgrading ERP software, talk to your vendor. They can offer guidance and expertise on the potential benefits of an ERP upgrade, helping you make the right decision for your business.
What Are the Benefits of Upgrading ERP Software?
Whatever the needs of your business, upgrading ERP software can deliver a wealth of benefits, as we explore below.
- Improved consolidation – no longer is ERP reserved for HR and supply chain; the latest iterations of the tech are suited to a variety of business functions, be it marketing, sales, finance or manufacturing. This means a centralised and unified ERP solution, facilitating greater efficiency and simplified data management and discovery.
- Streamlined revenue cycles – up-to-date ERP software facilitates faster and more accurate revenue processing, meaning greater control over your accounts and bottom line. All accounting cycles stand to benefit from the improved efficiency afforded by modern ERP, including invoicing and reconciliation.
- Faster reporting – with a centralised database, ERP supports faster and more efficient reporting. This, in turn, bolsters decision-making, allowing you to respond decisively to market changes and supply chain fluctuations, for more agile internal workflows and processes.
- Supports digital transformation – businesses in the process of digital transformation will benefit from upgraded ERP software in several ways. Latest iterations of the tech support full cloud integration, freeing up internal resource for nimbler processes and activity. Big data discovery is another plus point, allowing you access to powerful insights which can be leveraged to boost efficiency and reveal new business opportunities.
- Access to Vendor support, patches, fixes and bulletins – preventing your ERP system from falling into legacy status means you retain your access to the latest updates and support.
Should You Upgrade or Replace ERP Software?
The benefits of up-to-date ERP are self-evident, but one question remains: should you upgrade or replace ERP software?
There’s no right or wrong answer here. Instead, it hinges on a range of issues, considerations and scenarios, which we detail in brief below.
When to Upgrade Your ERP System
- When…you have an excellent working relationship with your ERP vendor
- When…you can achieve major benefits through upgrading, without the cost of full reimplementation
- When…end-users, stakeholders and personnel are happy with the current system but would be interested in some strategic updates
- When…the upgrade doesn’t require major technological upheaval, which could threaten efficiency and workflow management
- ..the upgrade will provide sufficient scalability benefits, supporting your plans for growth
- When… Your current version is at risk of no longer being supported
When to Replace Your ERP System
- When…the benefits of a new system significantly overshadow your current software and its latest version
- When…you’re dissatisfied with the service or support offered by your current vendor, and hold no loyalty to them
- When…the functions, interface and scale of a replacement ERP better align with your long-term business strategy?
- When…personnel aren’t happy with the functionality of your current system, and it has caused significant issues over its lifecycle
- When…an upgrade project is likely to cost the same and require as much work as a full replacement, for a lesser benefit in the long term
This is by no means an exhaustive list of reasons why you may choose to upgrade or replace ERP software. It does, however, highlight some of the key things to consider when future-proofing your business’ enterprise resource planning system.
ERP Upgrade Checklist
Should you decide to upgrade your ERP software, there are steps to take to ensure the latest version is integrated efficiently, with minimal disruption to day-to-day operations. Here’s a step-by-step checklist to help roadmap your ERP upgrade from concept to delivery.
- Set the Goals and Objectives of the Upgrade
What do you hope to achieve from the ERP software upgrade? And what are your baseline requirements? Draw up a document outlining the goals of the project, including a business case to demonstrate tangible business benefits and a return on investment which will ensure both buy-in from senior stakeholders, budget sign-off and a clear list of deliverables to pass to your ERP vendor.
- Assemble an ERP Upgrade Team
Who will be involved in implementing the ERP upgrade? Ideally, those who undertook the initial implementation should, when possible, be reassigned to the upgrade taskforce. If those resources cannot be made available to the project, many organisations opt to hire contract-based consultants who have the skills and experience of your ERP software. This option can often improve the chances of a successful upgrade. Of course, IT specialists are a prerequisite, but you’ll also need input from stakeholders who represent different areas of the business.
- Liaise with Your Vendor
Now’s the time to involve your vendor, approaching them with your requirements document, list of deliverables, and the roster of personnel who will be working on the internal-side of the upgrade. From there, they can set the wheels in motion, ready to pull the trigger when you decide on a go-live date.
- Roadmap the Upgrade
Set out the route to upgrade, with key tasks, milestones and deadlines laid out for the team. A project management tool like Trello, Jira or Basecamp can help with this, providing a centralised and collaborative platform on which to roadmap, track and record the progress of the upgrade rollout.
- Provide Training for Stakeholders and Personnel
Will end-users require additional training to make sure they’re up to speed with new functionality? If so, schedule this ahead of the upgrade go-live date; your vendor can assist in delivering functionality training if necessary.
- Develop a Post-Upgrade Strategy
What issues should you be aware of when the upgrade goes live? And are there any risks to account for which could disrupt processes and workflows? Drawing up a post-upgrade strategy sets out the action to take in the event of a worst-case scenario, ensuring minimal disruption and full business continuity.
We hope this guide on upgrading ERP software helps you decide on the future of your business software. JS3 Global are specialists in the provision of ERP resources to upgrade projects all over the world. Our software specialists can offer expert input and advice on all matters relating to software upgrades or replacement, steering you in the right direction. For more information or to talk to one of our experienced consultants, call us on +44(0)161 503 0866 or visit the homepage for more information.