ERP Software Functionality and Configuration—A Tale of Two Companies

This blog post is the final article in a five-part series, entitled ‘A Tale of Two Companies’. In this series, we explore the different hypothetical experiences of two fictitious companies as they upgrade/change to new ERP systems.

Company Z vs Company A—The gap is widening

“Let’s be candid,” said Company Z’s CEO to the head of operations. “The sales and marketing department refuse to use the CRM, the accounts team are using only a narrow portion of the finance module, and we are yet to see anywhere near the promoted benefits of the supply chain and production management tools.”

In the three years since the implementation of their new ERP system, Company Z’s market share has plummeted and the company has posted its fourth consecutive quarterly net loss. The board of directors have ordered a formal review of the solution and implementation process, to understand how things have gone so wrong, and what the company can do to correct the ongoing issues it faces.  

“Look at these system performance and functionality findings. We paid supercar level prices for a system that has delivered tandem-bicycle level outputs,” continued the CEO as she poured over the damming review report.

The impacts of a poor implementation are still hurting Company Z, which is experiencing barriers to the company realising the full potential of its ERP software.

“The systems’ cumbersome nature has not provided for an intuitive or inviting user experience. Given the technical complexity of customising the system, we have not nearly reached the vendor-communicated capabilities of the software,” said the head of operations.

As a result, Company Z hasn’t been able to recover from its operational disruption at go-live. Its on-going attempts to create workarounds for a continuing array of problems has reached a level where standard operating procedures are outdated, and staff can’t keep up with complicated sets of email instructions.

“At this point, we are simply wall-papering over the cracks. The more we try to solve problems, the more we find or create new ones,” said Company Z’s head of operations.

“For example, to drive some new business we decided to reduce the minimum order value required to qualify for free delivery. However, as we are using a myriad of different systems to cater to each department’s needs, many customers were incorrectly being charged freight. The crediting process was manual, and as we have recently had about half of our accounts team resign, many credits were missed, and our once loyal customers are leaving,” added the head of operations.

The tension at Company Z is rising. Everyone is feeling the pressure, and a large number of key staff are handing in their resignation as they secure job opportunities at Company A, which is experiencing unprecedented growth. 

Meanwhile, Company A has gone from strength to strength

In the three years since implementation, Company A has gone from strength to strength. It has opened two new locations, and revenue, profit, and market share are at an all-time high. The operations director, who led the ERP evaluation, selection and implementation process has been continually awarded attractive annual performance bonuses.

“We would have to attribute much of our recent success to the deep and broad functionality of our new system,” said the operations director.

“Everything from production management to sales management, human capital management, and financial management are covered well. With integrated and easy to use tools, we get the most out of the entire system,” he added.

Company A speaks proudly of the fact that its ERP system covers every function of its business. As a result, all staff are operating in the same system, building a depth of data which, in turn, fuels business intelligence and analytics capabilities. Its role-based analytics and predictive analytics allow Company A to foster innovation and strategic planning to keep them ahead of the competition.

“Prior to embarking on our implementation, I didn’t think it would be possible to have a single integrated system that the whole business would use. Getting the various department managers to agree on where to go for dinner is hard enough, but for each of them to actively champion our new system is a tremendous outcome.”

Due to the sophisticated business architecture of Company A’s ERP system, the company has a suite of social collaboration tools, web access, and SQL server optimisation which aid scalability.

These benefits are the result of Company A being able to configure the system to suit its needs.

“From being able to configure everything from the bill of lading forms and packing slips, through to interactive data analytics dashboards, the system offers personalisation and adaptability at every turn,” said the operations director.

The resultant functionality of Company A’s system are is also aided by the inclusion of a series of Microsoft tools and features.

As Company A’s ERP vendor has been building business applications using Microsoft tools for over twenty years, these comprehensive Microsoft enabled features have been pivotal in user acceptance of Company A’s system.

“The modules that our team use every day have a suite of Microsoft add-ins and user interfaces. As our business uses Microsoft applications at all levels, the ERP system offers a sense of familiarity, which allows for a frictionless operation,” said the operations director.

A Tale of Two Companies—Summary

Throughout our five-part series, we have highlighted that whether you are looking for your first ERP system or upgrading from an existing system—the evaluation, selection and implementation process are all extremely important for your company’s future success.

 As this series has illustrated, flexibility of deployment method, total cost of ownership, scalability, software customisation, and operational disruption at go-live, are all critical factors for you to consider.

Gaining expert insight and guidance throughout the evaluation, selection and implementation process can translate in both the realisation of optimal performance and the avoidance of an ill-fitting system.

Our local team of knowledgeable and helpful ERP specialists are available to answer any queries you may have. Based on your business needs, they can provide the guidance and insight necessary to help make your ERP evaluation, selection and implementation, a success.

Vincent Tang Epicor Software Corporation Regional Vice President, Asia