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Judy Wright Melissa Miller
August 8, 2016 Article 2 min read
In today's quickly evolving administrative system marketplace, options for new features and functionalities abound. Is your existing ERP system delivering all it can? Here are 5 ways to tell.

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The K-12 administrative system marketplace is continuously evolving. Acquisitions continue as vendors look to establish footholds in new markets, eliminate competition, or acquire new technology platforms. Cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS) have gained mainstream acceptance. Options have increased for non-core ERP solutions like student assessments, RTI/multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS), and applicant tracking. Many education ERP vendors have increased the focus on the mobile and collaborative aspects of their software while others have discontinued products. Vendors are introducing new features and functionality, including business intelligence (BI), expanded electronic workflows, and self-service portals.

Oftentimes, districts customize their systems to accommodate their business practices. Modified systems are difficult to upgrade.

Are you getting what you need from your ERP? Does it help your district run efficiently? Is it a trusted source of information? Can you use it to provide valuable analysis to determine areas that might need your attention? Here are five signs that your organization may want to consider a new ERP system.

  1. Your software is no longer being supported or the company is no longer in business.
    It’s time to move on when your provider: (1) no longer supports your version of ERP software, (2) is planning to end support for your product in the near future, or (3) is exiting the ERP business. These situations are problematic for a number of reasons. You won’t be able to find consultants who understand or are willing to support the product. You won’t be able to receive updates or enhancements and, as a result, you likely won’t be compliant with new regulations or be able to install patches to address security concerns. And the product will never increase in capability—no matter what happens in the marketplace.
  2. Your software is no longer meeting your needs.
    Stop us when this sounds familiar. Your district uses a variety of disparate systems (time reporting, professional development, applicant tracking, budgeting, etc.) that fail to exchange information with one another; there’s no mobile interface, no electronic workflows, and staff are using shadow systems like Excel spreadsheets to track items that should be recorded in the ERP system. Staff cannot create their own reports in the administrative system and waste valuable time re-entering data and/or formatting data in Excel.
  3. Your system is heavily customized, making regular maintenance difficult.
    Oftentimes, districts customize their systems to accommodate their business practices. Modified systems are difficult to upgrade. Often, the unanticipated result is that districts customize themselves out of the ability to efficiently upgrade to newer product releases and fail to gain the benefits of ongoing product improvements.
  4. Your hardware needs replacement.
    If you’re looking at the cost of replacing hardware, it may make sense to evaluate an ERP system simultaneously. Concurrently, evaluate whether a cloud-based, hosted solution or software as a service (SaaS) model makes sense. We are seeing more and more districts investigate shared systems, frequently where an educational service agency hosts a financial, HR, or student information system for local districts.
  5. You need information more quickly.
    If you want to make organizational decisions based on what’s happening now versus what happened last Tuesday, then it might be time to upgrade or replace your system.

Replacing your administrative system has a number of benefits, from better workflow and mobile technology interface to increased efficiency and new capabilities (such as using the cloud). Plante Moran’s information technology consulting team has assisted more than 200 public sector clients with this process. Whether you need a little assistance, or a lot, we can help. Just give us a call.