ERP Migration Project Checklist
ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software is a vital component of modern businesses. The technology enables companies to collect, store, manage, and interpret data from many business activities, all from a single application. Most companies have ERP systems in one form or another, however many of them are based on outdated technology. When it comes time to complete an ERP migration project or modernization effort, companies need to ensure the process goes smoothly since ERPs are integral to a company’s success.
One of the most important aspects of ERP data migrations is addressing integration and its requirements. ERP integration is a method of connecting and synchronizing ERP software to other systems, such as eCommerce applications or EDI platforms. The point of ERP integration is to ensure that automated and consistent information is shared between all systems, creating a single source of truth.
The earlier integration requirements are brought into the ERP migration planning and research, the better. Unfortunately, many companies do not consider integration requirements until later in the migration process. This commonly results in companies having to make compromises and spend additional money.
This leads us to four common dilemmas and regrets companies face with ERP migration. These include:
- Should have considered integration earlier
- Needing to hire more people to handle the integration
- Creating workarounds and custom code is risky
- Unexpected costs ballooning
Additionally, some of the challenges and pitfalls of the ‘ERP only’ mindset include having to create customization solutions, siloed project teams, and phased implementation which is costly, disruptive, and time-consuming. To avoid these issues, companies need to incorporate integration strategies as soon as they decide to pursue an ERP migration. The benefits of doing so include:
- Maximizing the ERP’s ROI
- Enhancing and extending the ERP’s capabilities
- Increasing the number of ERP/integration options instead of limiting them
Simultaneously planning for an ERP migration and building an integration strategy is a proactive method to ensure success and reduce the likelihood of complex predicaments. Working on both projects in parallel not only prepares companies for an ERP modernization but also gives their teams the ability to integrate the rest of their broader tech stacks. Most companies have an array of applications and systems (internal- and external-facing) that they use to manage their processes and collect data. Hence why being able to integrate various applications to create a central hub of collective data is crucial.
So even if a team may be focusing on an ERP migration project, it is essential for them to concurrently think about integration strategy, as it will result in an easier, faster, and more successful migration.
Key Takeaways From This Guide
1. Every ERP migration project needs an integration strategy
2. The earlier integration requirements are brought into the ERP migration planning and research, the better
3. Without proper planning for an ERP migration, companies may experience dilemmas—having to hire more people, creating workarounds and custom code, incurring additional costs, etc.
4. Legacy ERPs are undermining your business
5. There are nine key phases of an ERP migration and integration strategy
Companies across the globe are making the shift to postmodern ERPs. To understand postmodern ERPs and why they are growing increasingly necessary, it is beneficial to first discuss the history of ERP technology.
Brief History of ERPs: 1960s-2010s
ERPs are a spin-off of MRPs (Material Requirement Planning) that were introduced in the 1960s. Originally only affordable to large businesses, MRPs allowed companies to monitor inventory and production so they could improve manufacturing processes. Later on, tech companies saw an opportunity to bring the technology to smaller businesses and worked on making it more accessible.
A few decades later in the 1990s, the term ERP was created because the technology was being used for increasing the productivity of all operations, e.g., financials and accounting, not solely manufacturing. Several iterations have since been created, including standalone and client-server, followed by the milestones of cloud ERP and ERP II. The latter allows systems to pull data from various locations, which is one of the reasons integration strategies are so important when planning an ERP migration. The various sources from which data needs to be harvested include eCommerce, CRMs (Customer Relationship Management), HCMs (Human Capital Management), SCM (Supply Chain Management), and more.
By the mid-2000s, ERPs were running into trouble. They were growing increasingly expensive, lacked flexibility, and commonly experienced implementation failures. By the 2010s though, ERPs evolved for the better by fixing the pain points while adding intuitive, cutting-edge features. ERPs are now standard technology for many businesses. This is due to features such as real-time data processing, and harnessing IoT and machine learning.
Legacy ERP System Examples
Throughout the years there have been numerous ERPs that dominated the field. We rounded up a list of legacy ERP systems that were once major players in the market.
SAP: R/2 and R/3
Oracle: Oracle Applications
JD Edwards & Co: OneWorld
The Baan Company: BaanERP
PeopleSoft Inc: PeopleSoft8
These legacy ERP examples helped advance and evolve ERP technology, influencing subsequent ERP models for years to come.
Top Reasons Companies are Migrating to Postmodern ERP Systems
An integral aspect of supply chain, postmodern ERPs are used by a wide variety of companies and industries to manage and integrate various aspects of their businesses. Postmodern ERP strays from its predecessors that are one-size-fits-all, and are usually cloud-based, less expensive, and more flexible than previous iterations. This way companies can customize the ERP to fit their precise and ever-changing needs.
In recent years, companies have been consistently adding more software, platforms, and systems to their processes to better manage their businesses. This has made it more challenging to monitor processes and gather needed information. Postmodern ERPs are better equipped to handle integrations with a wider variety of platforms and systems, making it simpler for companies to oversee their operations.
Looking back, the market has been moving in the direction of postmodern ERPs for several decades now. This is being driven by customer demands for tangible improvements in critical areas, such as:
- Need for agility and flexibility
- Improved usability for users of all levels
- User Adoption
- Improved business outcomes
- Revenue growth
Capabilities of Postmodern ERPs
Over the past few years, software companies have taken customer demands and combined them with the innovative technologies of today. This resulted in postmodern ERPs that possess improved capabilities and performance. Postmodern ERPs now offer a vast breadth of features, which we will explore in more detail below.
Integrating To Create a Central Hub
One of the most useful features of postmodern ERP systems is being able to integrate them with various platforms. Companies can integrate their ERPs with CRM, SCM, EDI, eCommerce, RFID, and many other systems. Integration enables ERPs to collect pertinent data from each platform and present it in one central location. This makes data analysis easier, faster, and more accurate since users will not have to go into each platform individually and manually pull the data.
Businesses can greatly benefit from automating manual processes. There are three main benefits of automation. They are reduced costs, greater accuracy, and improved efficiency. Automation saves money because it reduces the number of employees needed for a single task and frees those workers to focus on more productive activities. In this way, companies are investing in technology that ends up being far more cost-effective in the long run.
Furthermore, automation is more accurate than manual labor. This is because humans can easily make mistakes, big and small, that can hold up the entire supply chain. For example, humans may pull the incorrect dataset, enter information in the wrong field, mistype, or forget to respond to customer requests.
Greater accuracy also leads to improved efficiency. With fewer errors, processes are less likely to require redoing or error resolution which cause bottlenecks in the supply chain. In addition, automating processes allows the technology to work around the clock without needing breaks, unlike human employees who need regular rest periods.
Visibility Into Supply Chain
Having insight into the supply chain is invaluable. Being able to monitor and manage each aspect of the supply chain, especially the integration layer, gives greater control to businesses. Visibility helps companies understand their processes better so they can identify areas that need improvement and areas that are performing well. Moreso, since businesses have greater insight into every step of their supply chain, they can more quickly identify and fix any issue before it causes serious damage or delays.
Real-Time Data Collection
In this day and age, data is king. Companies want and need data regarding nearly every aspect of their business and supply chain. One of the most challenging aspects of data collection is making sure it is up-to-date. Integrating ERPs with other platforms will enable automated, real-time data collection that is presented in one location within the ERP. This saves users time since they do not have to scour multiple platforms to find the needed information. Since the data is pulled via automation, businesses will experience fewer errors since it reduces the input from error-prone humans.
Real-time data collection through ERP integration allows for more optimal data analysis. Users are presented with real-time data in one location, making it easier for users to find key information. Additionally, ERPs organize the data and can present the information in visually appealing and comprehensible formats. Lastly, data analysis with ERP integration leads to more informed decision-making since users are analyzing up-to-the-minute information.
When it comes to data reporting, integrated ERPs make the process far simpler and more efficient. This is because the ERP creates a single source of truth by automatically pulling the data from each platform, thus avoiding manual data pulling and countless spreadsheets.
Teams do not have to wait on other coworkers to send data. For example, without an integrated ERP system, one person on the team might be put in charge of collecting sales data and another might collect marketing data. If the person in charge of collecting marketing data has not finished pulling the stats, this delays the reporting process because employees can’t report on data until they have all the information available to them.
Users can create automated, custom reports that are specific to their needs. For example, let’s say the finance team has a monthly report on expenditures. Instead of having to go into the ERP every month, manually pull the data, and enter it into a spreadsheet, users can create a custom report to generate automatically on the first of every month. The report can be set up to only include the specified information, while presented in a custom layout.
Finance teams can greatly benefit from integrated ERP systems. Businesses can connect their ERP to accounting and financial software so all the necessary information is updated and recorded in one location. Users can harness ERP systems to help with a variety of tasks, including automating cash payments, receipts, and multi-currency transactions, as well as tracking profits and consolidating financial data for easier analysis.
CRM, SCM, and HRM
Companies can maximize the ROI of their CRM, SCM, and HRM by integrating them with an ERP. Each of these management platforms is powerful alone, but integrating them with an ERP results in streamlined workflows, data visibility, reliable documentation, better process management, and more.
Trends Influencing Shift Towards Ecosystem Integration
There are additional macro trends that are influencing the market's shifts towards ecosystem integration, which is having a direct impact on ERPs and ERP migration initiatives. These include eCommerce, digital transformation, and supply chain disruption.
eCommerce and Retail
eCommerce and retail businesses frequently require companies to integrate their ERPs with EDI technology, so tasks such as sending and accepting purchase orders and invoices are automated. Automating these tasks increases efficiency and reduces errors throughout the purchase order process. Larger businesses like Walmart, Target, and Amazon are more likely to require trading partners to utilize ERPs and EDI integrations and technology.
As more processes are digitized, companies are using more platforms and systems to complete each migration step. Companies greatly benefit from integrating the platforms to an ERP because they can manage and monitor a slew of processes in one central location, as well as collect and analyze data.
Supply Chain Disruption
Supply chain disruptions can be caused by a myriad of factors, including raw material and labor shortages, natural disasters, cyberattacks, and transportation delays, to name a few. Integrating ERPs with other platforms and/or technologies such as MFT and EDI provides visibility into supply chain processes, shipment updates, customer communication, key data points, and enables more fluid data movement and transformation, and a whole lot more.
Business moves faster than ever thanks to the internet and process digitization. To remain competitive, businesses need to be able to communicate, operate, and deliver results quickly. Integrated ERP systems can increase efficiencies for countless processes, especially when it comes to EDI transactions that require extremely quick responses.
Integrated ERPs should be connected to all the various platforms and systems a business uses. This will result in a central hub of data where users can easily find information and statistics collected from a myriad of sources. The data is collected and presented in real-time so users can analyze the information to make more informed decisions.
As we mentioned in the previous trend, companies can make more strategic decisions when they are given visibility into real-time data and their supply chain processes. Better decision-making leads to a more successful business.
Ecosystem Partners Demanding Upgrades
More and more ecosystem partners are forcing businesses to upgrade their technologies to be compliant with their demands. For example, Walmart, Target, and Amazon have rules for how companies need to engage with them when doing business. This takes form in SLA, supply chain processes, EDI transactions, and more.
If your company is thinking about an ERP migration, be sure to consider postmodern ERPs. Otherwise, your company will be using outdated technologies that will hinder overall performance and give your competitors a preventable advantage. Furthermore, it’s a fact that having more agility in the integration layer fosters greater supply chain agility, which in turn fosters improved organizational agility by way of better decision-making.
Legacy ERP Challenges
As mentioned earlier, when contemplating an ERP migration, companies often run into issues when they have an ‘ERP only’ mindset. This is because when a company solely focuses on finding the best ERP for migration, they are forced to retroactively find an integration system that complies with the new ERP.
In comparison, companies that simultaneously search for the optimal ERP and have an integration strategy are more likely to find solutions that best address their needs. This is because they will have more options available, as well as they understand what they need from each platform.
There are problems that result from legacy ERPs. Continue reading to learn more about legacy ERP-specific issues. For companies experiencing issues with legacy ERPs, check out the legacy modernization trends for 2022 for insight into resolving the problems.
The Issues with Legacy ERPs
Companies across all industries are looking to migrate ERPs because the outdated technology is causing subpar visibility, siloed data, limited internal resources, lost revenue, UX hassles, and security risks. Let’s explore each of these issues in more depth.
There are a few reasons why companies may be inclined to keep the same ERP they have been using for years or decades. First off, they may be accustomed to the platform and know how it works, as there is comfort in familiarity. They may not want to be bothered with the difficult process of implementing a new ERP, which includes researching solutions, meeting with potential providers, implementing the ERP, learning the system, and training team members.
However, companies that hang onto legacy platforms are hindering their team’s performance, whether they know it or not. Legacy systems can cause companies to lose money, lose reputation, or lose business to competitors. This is because postmodern ERPs are built with cutting-edge technology that enables an array of new features and capabilities.
Older ERPs were not created to provide visibility into a company’s supply chain. This means companies are often left in the dark when it comes to transparency in their own supply chains. Repercussions of low visibility include the inability to improve inefficiencies, identify and fix errors, and increased expenses.
Moreso, poor visibility into supply chains can ruin relationships with customers. This is because if errors go unnoticed, a company will not know to fix the issues, resulting in delays. The company will also not be able to provide their customers advanced notice of the delay if they are unaware an error is occurring.
Additionally, a company may know there is an error but may not be able to pinpoint where it is happening in the supply chain. This means the company has to comb through its entire supply chain to decipher where the error is stemming from before it can fix it. Accordingly, this results in delays that can strain customer relationships, while decreasing revenue due to supply chain downtime.
Data silos are collections of data that are accessible by one person or group and are not easily accessible to other coworkers, teams, or departments. They can cause several problems, such as limiting access to data, inconsistencies between metrics, non-uniform data formats, and not promoting collaboration.
Data silos are a major issue because they prevent teams from making informed decisions. Rather, teams are forced to use the data in their silo to make decisions that may impact the entire company. If inclined, employees can request data from other teams. They then have to wait for the data to be sent to them and the data may be incorrect or outdated since it was manually pulled by a human. Furthermore, to ask for data, you have to know what data is available and who can provide it. Then they must provide it in a format that is actually useful.
While data silos might not seem like an urgent dilemma, they encourage a lack of transparency that can result in a slew of consequences.
Limited Internal Resources
The workforce is currently undergoing seismic shifts and employers are facing the repercussions. Companies are struggling to hire new employees and retain current ones. This is due to a few reasons, including an aging workforce, the so-called “Great Resignation,” talent wars, inflation, and evolving employee demands.
With the demand for employees outgrowing the supply, companies do not have the personnel to monitor and manage complex legacy ERP systems. The older ERPs require more maintenance and are more complicated to learn. This makes it harder for new employees to understand how the system works, compared to postmodern ERPs which are more intuitive. As internal resources continue to dwindle and the demand for talent increases, these issues will be exasperated.
If there is one thing that will get leadership’s attention, it is losing money. Businesses may not even realize that legacy ERPs are eating into their profits, as outdated ERPs are expensive to maintain, can decrease the velocity of revenue intake, and hinder profitability. Legacy ERPs rely on large, old, and expensive physical hardware that requires constant maintenance.
The technology used for legacy systems is nowhere near the capabilities of postmodern ERPs. Companies that use legacy ERPs are inviting their own problems due to these avoidable inefficiencies. An example of inefficiency could be an ERP legacy system integration that is unable to handle multiple data types or retains latency in data movement, due to one-off or customized integrations. Other examples of inefficiencies include lack of visibility into errors, slow processing times, system downtime, lack of automation, and more.
In general, outdated technologies and systems are more challenging to navigate. This is because they are not as intuitive, as they were created at a time when there was less emphasis on usability and more focus on functionality. In addition, people have adapted to modern technologies and forgotten (or never learned) how to use older technologies.
Legacy ERPs are complex, clunky, and difficult to navigate. They are not user-friendly, at least not by today’s standard. There is a steep learning curve when teaching new employees and team members how to maintain and use outdated systems. The complicated UX of legacy ERPs makes them less efficient than postmodern ERPs, thus cutting into revenue and slowing down supply chain processes.
Far from being the “bulletproof” systems they were originally billed as, today legacy systems often present a security risk because they are inherently older technology and are not supported by the company or vendor that created them in the first place. Lacking regular maintenance, legacy systems with vulnerabilities will not see the updates and patches necessary to stay secure in the modern world. This makes it easier for hackers to gain access and control of company systems.
Worldwide cybercrime cost $6.9 trillion in 2021, with experts predicting these losses will top $10 trillion by 2025. Cybersecurity needs to be a key aspect of every business, as poor data security presents a risk to every organization no matter the industry.
Looking at a handful of the problems legacy ERPs create and experience, it is clear that companies employing these outdated technologies are severely hindering their performance and incurring unnecessary costs that eat into their revenue. When tackling an ERP migration, businesses should look for ERP and integration solutions that address each of these issues.
The solution to ERP migration is twofold. Companies need to research postmodern ERP solutions while simultaneously creating and considering their integration strategy. By taking both factors into account, companies can better assess, implement, and manage these mission-critical solutions as a collective whole.
For example, if a company solely focuses on finding which ERP they are going to migrate to, it will be forced to select an integration strategy at the end of the process. Doing so will limit its integration choices. The business may pick a solution simply because it is the only integration platform that complies with its postmodern ERP, or it fits within its budget. This ‘ERP only’ mindset can lead to:
- Unexpected costs
- Hiring additional people to handle the integration
- Creating inefficient, costly, and risky workarounds using custom code
If a company considers both the ERP and integration strategy from the start, it can research options for both technologies concurrently. This allows the business to create a more holistic and cohesive ERP and integration solution, as the two technologies can seamlessly blend to produce optimal results and address the company’s needs.
How Postmodern ERPs Address Legacy ERP Issues
When it comes to postmodern ERPs, the technology is lightyears ahead of previous generations. Most importantly, the top postmodern ERPs address the issues that result from legacy ERPs (listed in the previous section). We explore how postmodern ERPs combat these problems below.
Companies that utilize postmodern ERPs can better adapt, scale, and automate their business to accommodate evolving demands. They can also integrate new technologies into their processes like ecosystem integration platforms, IoT, and machine learning. Older systems cannot handle these tasks, making the companies that use ERP legacy system integrations are less competitive. By employing legacy and outdated platforms, companies are missing out on functions that can greatly improve operations.
Lastly, new ERPs on the market are more relevant to modern businesses and are often cloud-based. Cloud-based ERPs means there is no physical hardware or infrastructure that needs to be bought or maintained, therefore reducing costs.
Supply Chain Visibility
Visibility into the supply chain is vital to a company's success. Visibility into the supply chain can result in greater efficiency, reduced costs, fewer errors, and lead to more business. This is because companies can assess various steps in their supply chains to discover areas that need improvement and which areas are performing well. Once a company has its findings, it can work on addressing the areas that require improvement to better its operations.
Control is another benefit of visibility. By having better insight into what’s happening at every connecting point of their supply chain, companies have a greater understanding of their inner workings. This information can be used to make better decisions, especially regarding optimizations, as well as provide more accurate updates to customers. So instead of companies having to use their best judgment due to the very limited visibility that legacy ERPs provide, or relying on the (usually delayed) information that 3rd-party managed service providers (MSPs) pass along, businesses can go into the ERP themselves and view real-time updates of their supply chain.
One of postmodern ERP’s greatest benefits is removing data silos. Postmodern ERPs combat data silos by utilizing integration and integration strategies. Companies can integrate their various platforms into their ERP to create a source of truth for data. The data is collected and presented in real-time so metrics are always up to date. This removes the need for requesting data from coworkers and waiting for the information to be sent over.
Furthermore, there are fewer errors with integrated ERPs since they remove the need for humans to manually pull the data. Integrated postmodern ERPs promote collaboration because teams have access to data outside their department. Employees can access company-wide data to understand the big picture and use it to make informed, unified decisions.
In a time when demand for workers exceeds supply, postmodern ERPs help companies through automation. Postmodern ERPs and integration platforms automate processes, reducing the need for human labor. This not only saves companies time since automation is more efficient and accurate than humans, but it saves companies money since they do not have to pay employees to complete these tasks.
Postmodern ERPs and integration platforms also help with onboarding. Instead of having to teach a new employee or team member the intricacies of a legacy ERP platform, postmodern ERPs are less complicated. When it comes to upkeep, new ERPs do not require the same level of maintenance as outdated ERPs. This is because postmodern ERPs are predominantly located in the cloud. Thus, removing the need for expensive, physical hardware that requires humans to regularly make fixes, install updates, and monitor performance.
Growing a company’s revenue is not always a straightforward process. However, upgrading from a legacy ERP to a postmodern ERP is a major step in the right direction.
Postmodern ERPs are much more efficient than their predecessors, as most legacy systems were functionally efficient for the time period in which they were designed and constructed. With the rapid advance in technology driving modern business practices and productivity, old systems can hamper productivity and contribute to an inefficient process flow. Companies can use modern ERPs to speed up processes including data collection and analysis, and EDI transactions. This results in greater productivity and the ability to secure more business.
There is the added benefit that most modern ERPs harness cloud technology, removing the need to buy large, expensive, physical hardware. This means companies do not need to pay an on-site staff to perform maintenance on the machines, resulting in cost savings.
User-friendliness is a key factor when designing technology interfaces, but that has not always been the case. Postmodern ERPs have become much more user-friendly and intuitive than their legacy counterparts. Users can navigate postmodern ERPs like most other software and platforms, removing the need for intensive training.
This makes it easier for companies to train new employees and team members, as the learning curve for postmodern ERPs is less intense than legacy systems. So instead of having specialized employees that focus on all things ERP, team members of all backgrounds can navigate the systems since postmodern ERPs are more accessible than ever.
In today’s digital world, cybersecurity has become a critical area for businesses as trillions of dollars are stolen globally every year. Postmodern cloud-based ERPs are highly effective when it comes to cybersecurity, especially when compared to legacy ERPs.
Postmodern ERPs regularly receive updates and patches that address security issues and risks. Since most modern ERPs are cloud-based, customers can install updates and patches as soon as they become available. This makes it harder for cybercriminals to hack since the ERPs are receiving consistent updates that make infiltrating the technology more complicated. Additionally, since the ERPs are cloud-based, service providers can troubleshoot issues and attacks remotely. This allows for quicker response times and faster resolutions.
When looking at the difference between postmodern and legacy ERP system integrations, the disparities are clear. Postmodern ERPs have significantly improved upon the foundation of the initial ERPs from the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. The new ERPs are much more efficient, secure, accessible, profitable, and transparent than the clunky machines of the past. Companies that are looking to migrate ERPs should highly consider a postmodern solution combined with an integration strategy to maximize their return on investment.
Top 10 Considerations When Looking for an ERP Solution
When it comes time to actually sit down and research solutions for an ERP migration, there can be an overwhelming number of factors to consider. To simplify this process, we created a list of the top 10 factors to consider when looking for an ERP migration solution.
1) Functional Fit
Before looking at solutions, it is helpful for teams to first outline their goals with the ERP migration. Doing so will help the team determine which features are non-negotiable and which are nice-to-haves. Then, teams can take this information and start looking for solutions that address their needs.
Teams should also assess the other technologies in their tech stack. This will allow them to see if their current technologies are integrative and compatible with the potential, new ERP solutions they are researching. Therefore, narrowing down solution options and making sure the migration is a seamless experience.
2) Industry Alignment
While some ERPs are broadly designed for all businesses to use, other solutions on the market are more tailored to specific industries and needs. For example, some ERPs are designed to perform best in the healthcare industry. This is because they have specific features to address common healthcare needs, such as streamlining caregiver access to the entirety of a patient's data.
Choosing an industry-specific ERP is not always necessary. While they can be beneficial in some scenarios, generic ERPs can handle the majority of tasks that most companies require. Customizations can be made to the generic ERPs to better tailor them to a company's needs. This can be an expensive process though, depending on the level of customization.
Regardless of the project, cost is almost always a main factor to consider. The cost of an ERP solution and migration can be looked at from a few different angles. Below are different areas to inquire about regarding cost, along with some questions companies can ask providers regarding each area.
- What is the actual cost of the software?
- Is it within budget?
- What features are included in the price?
- What are the prices of similar-level solutions?
- Is physical hardware required or is the ERP cloud-based?
- How much does it cost to implement the ERP?
- Can companies install the software themselves or do they need the provider to install it?
- If doing it internally, how many employees will need to work on the installation?
- How long will it take to implement?
- Will the current ERP experience downtime during the migration process?
- Are regular software updates included in the cost?
- How many years are updates guaranteed updates for?
- Do they provide managed services or is maintenance performed in-house?
- Will productivity increase with the software?
- Can processes be automated?
- Will customer service improve?
4) Vendor Reputation and References
Whether shopping for new jeans, a computer, or a car, it is always good to research a brand before purchasing from them. When it comes to an investment as large as an ERP, companies should always look into a brand’s reputation. This research can be conducted through reading online reviews, customer success stories, industry analyst reports, media articles they are mentioned in, reaching out to references, and more.
Furthermore, it is wise to look at reviews for the actual ERP product itself. Discover the pros and cons that customers experience with the platform. Websites such as G2 and Capterra are excellent resources for finding honest and in-depth reviews of companies, their services, and their products.
5) The Technology
An ERP system is only as good as the technology behind it. When looking for an ERP, make sure the technology is cutting-edge and future-proof, meaning the company routinely makes improvements and updates to its products and services. Otherwise, it is a costly and time-consuming process to greenlight an ERP migration, only to discover the technology was relevant for merely a few short years.
Companies can reduce the number of migrations they perform by selecting an ERP provider that is committed to advancing its offerings for years to come while having the resources to make improvements. Lastly, companies should assess other areas of the technology, including UI/UX design, security, system performance, integration capabilities, and customization ability.
When researching ERP migrations, it is important to consider scalability and the future growth of your business. Companies often research ERPs and only consider solutions that help them now and in the near future. This frequently results in companies having to migrate ERPs again in a few years because the software was not able to adapt to the business’s changes.
Companies need to assess whether ERPs can grow alongside them when they have more business and expand operationally. While the software must be able to help businesses in the present, it is just as vital to consider future endeavors and needs. Selecting an ERP with scalability makes the migration smoother and a more worthwhile investment.
7) Customer Support
Choosing and implementing the right ERP is half the battle. The other half is picking the right ERP that comes with proper customer service. When migrating ERPs, a company will undoubtedly acquire questions, concerns, errors, and more along the way.
So when help is needed, is the company simply the vendor’s customer, or does the vendor view them as a partnership? Will the vendor set the company up for success by providing trainings and tips, as well as answering all questions promptly? Or is the vendor hands-off and difficult to contact once they receive payment?
With technology as complex, time-sensitive, costly, and necessary as an ERP, it is in a company’s best interest to choose an ERP provider with excellent customer service ratings. To get a better understanding of real customer testimonials and reviews, check out G2 and Capterra.
Supply chain and data visibility are crucial components of any business, but transparency into these areas can be difficult to achieve. In particular, ERP legacy system integrations do not always grant customers access to supply chain and data visibility. This is largely because older systems do not have the technological capabilities.
Supply chain visibility helps companies better comprehend their supply chain and processes. Companies can analyze their processes to identify areas that need improvement, as well as identify which areas experience strong performance. Data visibility is also key to a company's success. With companies now leaning heavily on data to inform decision-making, having the most up-to-date and accurate information is essential.
When it comes to supply chain and data visibility, the ability to integrate an ERP with a wide variety of platforms is extremely helpful. We cover this in more detail in the next consideration.
9) Services Options
Managing an ERP can be a full-time job, hence why some ERP and integration providers offer managed services. Managed services can provide a host of great benefits, including relieving the need for teams to attend ERP trainings, white-glove ERP installation, setting up integrations, testing integrations and data collection, and ongoing system monitoring.
However, there are two other common options including self-service and hybrid services. Therefore, companies need to determine what type of service they desire, what types of services potential ERP providers offer, and the cost of each option.
As usual, there are pros and cons to each service option so adequate research should be done when selecting which option to pursue. For more information on the different types of service options, check out our blog here.
10) Integration capabilities
Integration capabilities are one of the most important factors to consider when performing an ERP migration. Integration is the driving force behind accumulating supply chain and data visibility.
Integration helps supply chain visibility because it allows for all connection points in an end-to-end B2B processes to be managed in one singular platform. Instead of users having to open and search through countless platforms to monitor performance and execute actions, users can integrate their ERP with the other platforms their teams use to create a central hub, and gain deeper visibility into such revenue-critical business processes as Order-to-Cash, Procure-to-Pay, or Load Tender-to-Invoice. Users then only have to open the integration platform to get an all-encompassing view of what’s happening integration-wise across their ecosystem of customers, partners, suppliers and more.
One major benefit of integration is data visibility. Integrating with other platforms allows ERPs to collect data in real-time, present the information in one location, and display the data in easy-to-digest formats. Data access and displays can be customized to each ERP user, so users are not viewing classified or irrelevant information.
The value of integration cannot be understated, which is why companies need to create an integration strategy. This strategy then needs to be regularly consulted before and during the ERP migration research and implementation process, to make sure the new ERP platform and integration strategy are aligned and compatible.
The Role of Integration Strategy in ERP Modernization
Vince Lombardi, one of the most legendary NFL football coaches in history, when his Green Bay Packers has been beaten badly, is reported to have said, “Gentlemen, this…is a football,” in an effort to get his players to remember the fundamentals.
Likewise, to fully understand why integration needs to happen alongside ERP migration and modernization, we need to cover the basics. So without further delay, this is why integration is essential for ERP migration.
ERP Data Migration Best Practices
The most critical best practice of ERP data migration is creating an integration strategy before researching potential ERP solutions. Creating an integration strategy can help guide a company’s research for ERP solutions. This is because companies can look for ERP solutions that will be feature-rich, cost-effective, transparent, and complimentary to their integration strategy, instead of picking an integration solution simply because it is compatible with the selected ERP.
Without creating an integration strategy to consult throughout the ERP research and ERP data migration stages, companies may need to create customized solutions, experience siloed teams, riskier implementation, and phased implementation. We discuss each consequence in more detail below.
Customization can bump up an ERP project's cost by more than 50% because often the core ERP doesn't have all the integration capabilities that a Postmodern ERP requires. This makes the integration process more complex than it should be. In short, the current ERP system becomes a bottleneck, requiring manual and programmatic intervention to enable data sharing.
Siloed Project Teams
Most ERP modernization project teams are large, but they tend to work in silos and spend a lot of time understanding the previous customizations. And oftentimes those customizations are difficult if not impossible to reimplement, and this too creates challenges around those integration processes.
Virtually all ERP projects are like a “black box” with limited visibility and consequently high risk. About half of all ERP implementations fail the first time around. These implementations almost always take more time than estimated, and ultimately cost more than the allotted budget.
Most ERP migration/upgrade projects have multi-year timelines. And because a lot of the applications around the core ERP get changed as the project evolves, the scope of the implementation changes, and so, therefore, does the integration strategy. All of this makes it challenging to complete an ERP upgrade on time.
Conversely, simultaneously planning for an ERP data migration and building an integration strategy makes the entire process simpler and more effective. Working on both projects concurrently prepares companies for an ERP modernization while ensuring their teams can integrate the entirety of their tech stacks. Integrating a company’s tech stack with an ERP allows for supply chain visibility and management, as well as real-time data sharing between platforms and teams to create a single source of truth. These benefits are essential in today’s increasingly digital world that prioritizes efficiency and data.
Choosing an Integration Platform
When selecting an integration platform to accompany your ERP migration project, there are a few factors to consider. We have compiled them into six pillars of integration confidence.
Flexibility of Choice
A flexible organization should have the choices of designing and implementing B2B integration solutions on its own, outsourcing integrations to a managed service provider, and a combination of both strategies. Companies should be able to modify integration approaches as needed to respond to market or ecosystem circumstances. Flexibility of choice directly impacts a business’s time-to-market and total cost of ownership (TCO) in times of crisis.
The Ability to Control
Control over integrations is not currently in place for many organizations. To achieve integration confidence, organizations must have a certain level of control over the daily execution of operational tasks, user access to critical integration information, and resourcing strategies.
How does an organization recognize when it has adequate control over these operations? Controlling the daily execution of operational tasks is as simple as identifying and assigning exactly who does what when it comes to integration protocols, and how those actions are carried out. Also, make sure team members and partners have access to necessary integration information to continue business operations. Finally, an organization has achieved control of resourcing strategies when it can grow and shrink teams as needed based on demand and the task at hand. An organization should strive to have as much control as it needs to continue its business operations.
The Power of Credibility
Credibility and trust are the foundation of a business relationship. Credibility allows organizations and their partners to trust when it comes to expanding market opportunities, increasing customer retention, accelerating the time-to-value of integrations, and therefore time-to-market. This credibility takes time and experience to build and can be further bolstered by utilizing a high-performing integration platform. Integration platforms can provide organizations with cloud data integration services and the technology to support a custom integration strategy.
The Impact of Real-Time Insights
In the digital, multi-channel world of today’s global trade, many organizations harness the power of real-time operational insights to power their decision-making processes. Consolidating integrations to a single platform that provides those real-time insights into integration flows helps to drive decision-making confidence.
The Efficiency of a Complete Technology Platform
Consolidating the design, build, analysis, and optimization of workflows of all B2B integration transactions into a single integration platform allows organizations to see a rise in efficiency. This means reporting becomes easier, resolving issues is simpler and faster, and assessing the health of a business and its ecosystem partners becomes more intuitive. Efficient teams can deliver more value and expertise to their business, all while mitigating business risk. This only serves to increase an organization’s level of integration confidence.
The Visibility of End-To-End Integration Workflows
The ability to gather insights into end-to-end integration workflows – that is, workflows that stretch beyond the edge of your organization – is crucial to building integration confidence. This end-to-end visibility is typically lost when a transaction spans across multiple cloud and on-premise systems, as the information is piecemeal. This leaves organizations uniformed to certain parts of the transaction that can cause missed SLAs or increased resolution times.
Investing in a modern integration platform eliminates integration blind spots by connecting cloud environments with legacy, on-premise systems to provide true end-to-end visibility across business processes regardless of where the systems are hosted.
9 Phases of an ERP Migration Project and Integration Strategy
Now that we know all about ERPs, trends in the landscape, the cons of ERP legacy system integration, the benefits of postmodern ERPs, and the importance of creating an integration strategy from the start…what are the actual steps when conducting an ERP migration? Check out the nine steps we highlighted below.
The first step is for companies to analyze their current ERP system and integration platform. Then they need to decide which features are necessary for their next ERP and create an integration strategy. This will guide their research and decision-making process.
2. Deployment Analysis
Next is the deployment analysis. Here, teams should conduct a cost/benefit analysis, as well as an impact analysis. Both analyses should be done for the ERP system and the integration platform, meaning there should be four analyses in total. Performing these audits will inform the company how much the ERP migration and integration platform will cost the company in terms of money and disruptive impact. The ERP system and integration platform should work in tandem to maximize the ROI of the new software.
Planning is key to any successful project, and the same goes for ERP migrations. Teams should plan the necessary steps to complete the ERP migration and implement a new integration platform. After the steps are outlined, the team can create a timeline of when they expect to complete each phase, from green-lighting the project to deployment.
4. Shape a Team
When it comes time to install and implement the ERP system, there needs to be a designated lead and team to oversee the project. Decide who will be responsible for leading the project, who will manage the process, and who will perform the actual tasks to get the ERP up and running.
5. Test in Advance
Now that the team is appointed and the implementation is underway, it is a good idea to test integrations. Teams should connect their other applications, systems, and platforms to the ERP to verify that the integrations work before moving forward.
6. Actual Data Use Test
Once the integration tests are successful, it is time to move on to data testing. This step checks if the ERP is accurately pulling data from the applications it is integrated with. This requires teams to manually go into each application to look at data in real time. Then, users can compare the in-platform data to the data the ERP collects. If the data from both systems align, the data test was successful.
It is now time to officially sunset the old ERP and integration platform. All focus should be on implementing and testing the new ERP system and integration platform.
8. More Testing
The more testing the better. Complete final testing before launching the new ERP system to minimize the likelihood of errors upon deployment.
The final step! After all the research, decisions, installation, trainings, and testing, the ERP migration is complete. The ERP is ready for deployment, meaning tasks can be automated, data can be collected accurately, and the supply chain can be managed from one central location. Go forth and conquer.
When researching ERP migration and integration solutions, be sure to reference this guide to help you navigate the process. If you have any questions or want more information on how Cleo can help with ERP migration projects, ERP data migration strategies, and integration solutions, contact us today.