As cloud technology becomes considerably more mainstream, ERP vendors like Oracle, Infor, and SAP are focusing on their newer cloud-based platforms, diverting their research and development investments from older software products and redirecting them to their newer cloud solutions. The result: an increase in end-of-life (EoL) announcements.
When an ERP vendor announces a software product has reached its EoL, you may be unsure of the impact on your business — what does end of life mean? Is it safe to continue using an EoL product? Do you have to “upgrade” to the vendor’s new ERP solution? Will the vendor’s new ERP meet your business needs? What are your options?
Software EoL has both short- and long-term implications. In the short term, the vendor typically stops software releases which include functional improvements and updates to meet regulatory or reporting requirements (for example, General Data Protection Regulations or tax law changes), which could result in noncompliance penalties. Long term, EoL means the end of software maintenance and support, including updates/patches to address every changing data security concerns. The impact, over time, extends to software incompatibility with new hardware, databases or operating systems, and potential downtime (imagine if your system was down for a day, a week, or longer).
If you current ERP has a looming EOL date, there is a silver-lining — an opportunity to upgrade to a new ERP solution with new features that can improve productivity, increase efficiencies, decrease costs, streamline processes, and provide better access to your data through improved business analytics.
Along with an EoL announcement, ERP vendors have typically provided an upgrade path to their most current product, but this may not be your best option. Remember that the new software product is likely very different from your current ERP. This isn’t a version upgrade but would require a new implementation from one ERP product to another and will be a major undertaking, even if you stay with the same vendor.
Instead of simply agreeing to upgrade to your vendor’s new product, consider the following to select an ERP product that truly meets your business needs.
1. Assess your unmet functional needs.
Does your current ERP meet your needs, from your daily business operational needs to workflow automation, or real-time access to data? Are there functionality gaps that currently require manual intervention? Are you using multiple third-party systems to fill functionality gaps? Consider what’s missing so you can make sure your needs will be met the next time you invest.
2. Identify which new features and functions your team wants.
Your team likely has a list of things they wish your current ERP could accomplish. For example:
- Integrated information & workflow: Instead of having data distributed throughout several separate databases, all information can be stored a single location. The right tool can also keep data consistent and up-to-date. This creates greater interconnectedness between different departments, generating instant departmental communication and faster response times by removing functional silos.
- Improved reporting & data analytics: Business intelligence tools provide value by providing actionable insights and performance data in order to make better decisions.
- Enhanced security: A new ERP system can improve the accuracy, consistency, and security of data. Restrictions to data can also be enhanced to make sure only authorized staff members can access sensitive information.
- Mobile access to data: Enabling staff to access data and workflows with their own devices gives them on-the-go access, which gives them more flexibility and will be especially convenient when they’re work remote.
3. Consider optimal timing for your organization.
A realistic timeline to evaluate, select, and implement a new ERP ranges from 12 to 30 months (the average implementation length is approximately 12 months, depending on the size and type of organization). Most implementation plans are based on business cycles, which can add anywhere from six to nine months to your timeline, so it’s not too early to start evaluating your ERP options with EoL dates of 2025 or earlier.
If your ERP system has an EoL date, or you think one might be coming, our IT consulting team can help you evaluate your options. Having worked with hundreds of organizations with ERP assessments, selections, and implementations allows us to be totally independent and to give unbiased advice — no loyalty or financial ties to any ERP company. You can count on us to help you cut through the noise of the complex software marketplace.