If you are a CIO, aspire to be one, or report to one, you may wonder what you should be looking for in an ERP system. The fast answer, which is not entirely wrong, may sound something like, “A system that doesn’t becomes a costly dinosaur.” Alternatively, you may think you want a system that’s powerful, economical and flexible. Those are all good qualities for an ERP system, but the question demands a more thoughtful answer.
ERP and CIO’s Role
There’s a fallacy that the CIO is the chief technology executive at a company. Yes, he or she does serve in that role. But, perhaps more importantly, the CIO is a business executive, the person who is tasked with leading the business in its use of technology and data. For this reason, the CIO is wise to look beyond features and functions in the evaluation of potential ERP solutions. The business needs should provide the primary point of view for the next ERP system.
Alignment with the Business
ERP functions as the business’s most important core software system. It’s where accounting, financial management, operations management and logistics all take place. Customers and employees as well as supply chain vendors are also usually tightly bound to the functionality of the ERP system. To work, ERP must align with the business’s operational needs, organizational structure and strategic objectives. And, it must be adaptable enough to change over time. Certainly, most company’s operations and strategy evolve. ERP must be able to keep up.
Furthering of Data Strategy
As data analytics becomes more critical to corporate success, ERP will play a major role in the fulfilment of data strategy. CIOs should examine whether an ERP solution has the ability to ingest and export data easily to analytics solutions. The ERP itself will be valuable if it has substantial analytics capabilities as well.
Fit with the Enterprise Architecture
Important as it is, ERP is just one element of a company’s broader enterprise architecture. Elements of enterprise architecture include deployment models (cloud, on-premise, private cloud, hybrid), application integration and “stacks.” The ERP should fit or be adaptable to various architectural patterns. For instance, a cloud ERP needs to be able to integrate easily with on-premises systems via standards-based APIs. It should work well with legacy systems (like iSeries) and whatever “stack” is preferred by the company, e.g. Windows Server, Linux, etc.
Fit with Software Development Methodologies
Many companies are moving toward new, more agile modes of software development. These include DevOps, which blends development with testing and IT operations as well as continuous integration (CI) of code and so forth. An ERP system should ideally have the sort of flexible, open APIs that enable developers to access data sources and processes from ERP easily and connect them with new applications.
Ability to Address Security and Compliance Policies
As the repository of valuable customer data and financial transaction information, ERP must enable strong security policies and compliance with government regulations. For example, under the Sarbanes Oxley Act, a company must demonstrate that it has robust controls over financial transactions that affect financial reporting. These controls and the transactions they govern, are invariably on the ERP.
We have helped many CIOs go through the process of evaluating and selecting an appropriate ERP solution. For CIOs, we recommend Acumatica Cloud ERP.
Acumatica is an integrated financial and business management solution that can help you manage IT operations. Built on a robust technical platform, Acumatica can run on premise or in the cloud. Acumatica is built on industry standard Microsoft .NET, HTML 5, and Visual Studio IDE, so there are no proprietary tricks to developing custom solutions.
Best of all, you are charged by the resources your company needs, not by the number of users that access the system (like other ERP vendors do). That means that everyone in your organization can be granted access to the information they need for their role without incurring additional expense to your business.
- One system that integrates your company’s financial management, operations, and CRM.
- Built using industry standard technology.
- Run on premise or in the cloud.
- Charged by the resources needed, not per user.
To learn more about how might be able to work with your business in this regard, let’s talk.