If you are running an old version of your ERP system or you are using software that was installed more than five years ago, you would probably be surprised at the technological advances and time-saving features that today’s ERP solutions offer.
Here is a look at some important ERP trends we are seeing across the industry and that are shaping the future of ERP software.
Some publishers (think Sage, Microsoft, and SAP) are further along in the adoption and perfection of these capabilities. But, if you’re in the process of evaluating software replacement options, be sure to add these features to your ERP checklist along with your critical operational needs.
1) Vertical Versus Horizontal Focus – ERP software used to be designed to appeal to the general masses. I referred to this as ‘accidental SIC code success’ because there was nothing inherently specific in solutions for particular industries and often required customizations and/or add-ons.
Today, publishers are focusing on vertical industries and micro-vertical categories; taking process manufacturing one-step deeper into chemical manufacturers for example.
2) Multiple Deployment Options – Cloud is here to stay and today’s software solutions either offer on-premises, private hosted or public hosted cloud solutions. Another popular option is hybrid-deployment giving customers the freedom to choose where its most critical data resides and how it’s managed and accessed. Read ERP Cheat Sheet: Cloud Vs On-premises.
3) Mobility – If you have a hard time leaving the office behind, you’ll love mobile access. Modern ERP delivers user apps, Windows 10 tiles, and remote connectivity so you can always check order status, manage your customers, view KPIs and much more from any browser and any device. My advice – if you really want to unplug, book a cruise. Mobile plans are expensive on cruises!
4) Rich, colorful and graphical user interfaces (UI) – ERP software is catching up to the rich streaming content we consume on smart devices daily with commercial-grade applications that function how we live. The UI’s borrow design elements from the internet, Microsoft Office and social media platforms to increase usability and efficiency.
5) Workflow Automation – Studies show that automation improves productivity and reduces errors. Front and back office applications continue to evolve with Accounts Payable invoice automation and document management utilities to the warehouse and shop floor control data collection. IOS applications and rugged devices reduce the complexities of compatibility and offer lower cost hardware options.
6) Specialized Add-ons – Market leaders are emerging in areas of specialization that make it impossible for software publishers to compete. A great example is Avalara, a global Sales & Use Tax solution. Avalara maintains complicated sales tax jurisdictions, taxation rules & calculations, reporting and audit protection. Why maintain multiple systems when you can have all your requirements met under one hood?
7) Business Intelligence Reporting – It wasn’t that long ago that expensive add-on solutions were required to actually access and use your transactional data. Not anymore. Solutions today deliver standard business intelligence tools for a wide range of user skillsets leveraging excel-like ease of use or advanced data-cubing and sophisticated views.
8) Performance – All of the most common midmarket ERP solutions today are optimized for Windows Operating Systems and Microsoft SQL Server. Within the ERP solution, relational databases (normalized) are designed to accommodate high transaction volumes and loads can be spread across servers for optimal performance. ERP software is faster than ever before and can handle more transactions and more data while keeping it under one umbrella.
9) Social Platforms - Imagine Facebook, LinkedIn and Skype operating within your ERP environment. Like it or not, social media is here to stay and it appeals to millennials entering the workforce. Communication through these social channels can be very important to your customer strategy. The ease of use with integrated social platforms to your ERP solution can bring productivity gains that result in increased profitability.
10) Self-Help Tools – Software publishers are always looking for ways to reduce learning curves, increase usage and deliver a positive, memorable customer experience. Your annual maintenance plan should include end-user portals for training materials, videos, live-training courses, content knowledgebases, chat communities, user and advisory groups, and in-context help capabilities.
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