Only 46% of Businesses Understand ERP Features – Be One of Them!
- 54% of ERP users don’t fully understand all the features of the systems their enterprises use.
- While 65% of users find mobile access important, only 25% have smartphone access and only 21% can access the ERP via tablet.
- 27% of companies that use ERPs don’t track business benefits realized with the aid of the system.
The ERP market is sophisticated, rich, and work-intensive. This makes perfect sense if, at the very least, you look at what the acronym stands for. Enterprise Resource Planning is a multi-million dollar business, so it seems only natural that users should understand ERP features.
This, however, is sadly not the case, as the 2012 MorganFranklin Corp. annual ERP survey goes to show.
According to the data, only 46% of users understand ERP features to their fullest and are able to take advantage of them.
This, in the words of MorganFranklin Corp. managing director John Hoebler, is “shocking”, since companies literally invest millions in purchasing and deploying ERP systems. Meanwhile, they seem to be missing out on all the business process automation features that ERPs place at their fingertips.
The problem, however, seems to run deeper than a mere failure to appreciate Enterprise Resource Planning systems to their full extent. According to a recent survey from Redshift Research, users simply aren’t happy with what ERP systems are able to offer them.
In the following, we take a look at the users’ gripes with the ERP systems they’re currently being forced to use. We also analyse what they think is lacking and how vendors can deliver on those needs.
Do system providers understand ERP features needed by the end-user?
The RedShift survey looked at the responses at 1,509 ERP users. Most of them described their experience with ERP software as just “basic” or “adequate”. However, polite as they may seem, users don’t mince words when it comes to expressing what they want from their ERPs.
Here are the users’ top needs, ranked by order of necessity:
- Fast time-to-value
- Simplicity of use for all users
- Accessible collaboration features across the chain (including customers, suppliers, and staff)
- Mobile access for all staff
- The ability to choose between cloud, hybrid, and on-premises deployment
Image source: Information Week
The RedShift survey indicates that smartphone access is only available to 25% of users, while tablet access is available to 21%.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the respondents ranked time-to-value (read: Return On Investment) as their main priority.
As Richard Cushing explains all the rest derives from this need. He highlights the importance of inherent simplicity of effective solutions to complex issues, as well as that of powerful, i.e. frequently used computers.
With that in mind, ERP vendors should strive to understand the supply chain of an enterprise as extending past its four walls. To this end, they need to make it easier for enterprise staff to collaborate, share data, and truly grasp the benefits of collaboration.
As the above image shows, most enterprises didn’t provide a business case, in a 2013 assessment of ERP benefits realized.
Image source: ZDNet
Best practice strategy for understanding key ERP features
The ability to process how ERPs work is obviously a problem for a majority of enterprise personnel. Companies that use incumbent systems, such as those produced by Oracle and Microsoft, often realize that it’s mostly power users who can plough through the clunky, feature-heavy software.
Image source: 1,000 Ventures
If you use such an ERP system, here are some measures you can take, in order to minimize user frustration:
- Invest in change management. No one can reasonably expect staff to embrace such major change as a new resource planning feature if they haven’t been properly trained to use it. Staff can even come to resent the new system if they don’t fully understand it.
- Decommission legacy applications. If you don’t do this, you end up with a hybrid of an ERP system, in which legacy applications are left hanging off your main frame. Incidentally, you’ll be paying major maintenance, support, and even upgrade costs for that frame.
- Create a master list of features. Track feature usage and periodically review the list, in order to understand which features are actually being used and to what extent. Poll users to see which features they find truly helpful.
- Test and audit features. Writing test scripts and procedures will be required. Then, features will have to be audited, checked for compliance, and explored for reporting requirements.
- Understand no system can run your business end-to-end. Based on the size of your organization, your business logic is likely a complex creature. No ERP system can be expected to take it all in. Focus on optimizing your value chain and accurately tracing costs with it.