Five Steps to Getting the Most from a System Upgrade
Sometimes an upgrade is just that: installing the latest version of a particular business application. But sometimes companies can ratchet up the ROI by reaping additional business value from the process. Keith Jones, director for Oracle Partner CSS, based in Charleston, South Carolina, suggests the following five tactics to optimize the return on any technology upgrade.
1. Upgrade within a strategic business plan. Look at the upgrade in the context of what you want to accomplish from a business point of view. Are there business processes that can be streamlined or automated? How can the technology solve those problems? “There are real opportunities to decrease inventory, manufacturing, and administrative costs with an ERP [enterprise resource planning] upgrade, and identifying those opportunities will help you build a stronger business case for the project,” says Jones. In fact, companies such as CSS offer an automated assessment tool designed to identify the costs and hard dollar returns from an upgrade of Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne.
2. Implement with an eye to the future. Make sure the project will support future business growth, and build those requirements in to the implementation. “You want to make sure that periodic assessments and upgrades are part of a five-year business plan,” says Jones.
3. Look for smaller opportunities to add business value. Upgrades don’t have to be large—sometimes adding a smaller “edge application” can yield surprisingly large returns.
4. Manage culture change. Yes, this is project management 101, but one of the best ways to maximize ROI with an ERP upgrade is to make sure the users are on board. Managing expectations and involving business units in process redesigns can go a long way toward getting that crucial buy-in.
5. Go vanilla. Avoid software customization as much as possible—it saves time and money and creates flexibility by removing the need to recode customizations with each upgrade. “Every company wants to believe that it has unique processes, but the reality is that most companies are pretty standard,” says Jones. “You are paying for each software vendor’s expertise and the best practices that vendor has put into its system, and it often pays to leverage that by using its processes.”