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Software replacement plans canceled? Optimize your existing enterprise system

May 6, 2020 Article 4 min read
Mark Warner Tracey Rau
If you can no longer afford a new ERP system, what’s your next best option? Finding ways to work with what you have. Consider these 12 ideas to optimize your current system to drive efficiency across your organization.
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While there’s a significant amount of uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, one fact seems certain. State and local governments, K-12, higher education, and other public sector agencies will likely see their revenue or funding negatively impacted this upcoming year. The financial shortfalls stem from decreases to property taxes, income taxes, student enrollment, various state and federal sources, fees for service, or other revenue streams. As a result, organizations are pulling out their budget-balancing playbooks from the Great Recession to find the best ways to sustain operations with their available resources. One item that should be in that playbook — making sure your ERP system is providing maximum value to your organization.

Sure, a new ERP system would be nice to have — you may even have been planning for it — but if your project funding has been negatively impacted, you may instead, want to consider optimizing the legacy solution you have now. When you harness its untapped potential, you can deliver substantial benefits to your organization while avoiding the cost and time of selecting and implementing a new system.

When you harness its untapped potential, you can deliver substantial benefits to your organization while avoiding the cost and time of selecting and implementing a new system.

You know that ERP systems are complex. To re-energize a software solution already in production, you’ll need to explore the many dimensions of how your team interacts with that system. Focus on these 12 areas to improve your ERP efforts:

  • Build on prior successes: Your previous software implementation wasn’t a total failure — even if a couple of critical areas presented challenges. Determine which areas were the most successful and why. Was it because of a particular staff, or the amount of time someone was given to invest in mastering it? It’s likely you can take the lessons learned where things went smoothly and apply them to the areas where your deployment fell short of expectations.
  • Conduct a post-game analysis: Evaluate why your organization didn’t fully realize the original goals of the software deployment. Were there hiccups with the project team, the vendor’s consultants, or internal sponsorship? Did you run out of time or funding or fail to use certain functions? Your findings can help you focus future efforts to target effective improvements.
  • Review your business processes: At the heart of the effort, you’ll need to evaluate your key business processes to determine if they’re consistent with peer organizations. There may be untapped potential within best-practice functionality built into the system but “deconfigured” during the implementation.
  • Automate business processes: If your system doesn’t have functionality to improve all your processes, can you automate a few with robotic process automation (RPA)? RPA can be programmed to mimic the routine, frequent tasks that your staff perform in order to free up their time for other value-added activities.
  • Retrain staff: Take this time to assess your staff’s understanding of practices, procedures, and outcomes. Then customize plans for growth and development opportunities to fully support them to maximize the effectiveness of your technology investment.
  • Analyze vendor services: Your organization’s software solution is only as good as the service that you receive when you’re having an issue. You’ll want to evaluate the level of support and service that your technology vendor provides compared to industry-acceptable performance standards and best practices to ensure that you’re optimizing their offering.
  • Consider governance and decision-making: Are your decision-making processes and methodology for people, processes, systems, and data aligned with the roles and responsibilities associated with your new technology? It’s critical that you define a framework for managing and coordinating all people and pieces.
  • Leverage your peers’ successes: Are your problems unique, or do your peers have them as well? Whether you’re a school, a city, a college, or an airport, water, or transit authority, sometimes you need to look outside of your organization. Coordinate with other entities using the same software to see if they can provide insights on alternative methods for configuring the system to your needs.
  • Harness data analytics: Is your team effectively managing your data? It’ll be important to assess your analytics infrastructure and delivery, including the ability to manage, retrieve, and interpret the information you manage.
  • Assess your team: You’ll want to consider your team’s perspective and willingness to reinvest in the system. Assessing this will identify the areas where you can immediately focus so that your teams are ready and capable of reenergizing your implementation efforts.
  • Maximize product licensing: Are you using all of the software that you paid for, and is the licensing rightsized to the parameters around how licensing is determined? Evaluating this area will ensure that you’re only paying for what you need both near term and long term.
  • Reconsider deployment models: Have you effectively evaluated whether your solution is most appropriately housed as an on-premise or vendor-hosted solution if both options are available? While the public sector marketplace was initially more cautious in considering cloud options, many organizations are now becoming more comfortable with a remote hosting model as these cost-effective alternatives continue to mature.

Your organization’s software solution is only as good as the service that you receive when you’re having an issue.

Newer isn’t always better.

The old adage, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” may apply to your prior software investment, especially now that capital budgets are more constrained than ever. It’s not too late to improve your situation while achieving your original objectives. The time has come to reassess and refocus your efforts, realign your investment with your organization’s strategic goals, and recommit to optimizing your existing software solution. Our dedicated public sector team has helped countless organizations assess, select, implement, and optimize their enterprise software solutions. Our focus on public sector processes and best practices will help guide you through these uncertain times.

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