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By now, most organizations have a number (perhaps dozens) of enterprise applications deployed. In addition, most organizations are also enmeshed in migrating (or evaluating a transition of) their IT environment to services-oriented architecture solutions. Yet a great deal of business processes are tightly tied to existing ERP or enterprise application solutions—some of which can be 5 years old, ten years old, or even older. And although it’s never easy to upgrade or migrate entrenched products such as enterprise applications (since they can be tightly entrenched in an organizations IT department as well as its business processes), fundamental changes in IT architectures (such as Web services and service-oriented architectures), new business requirements and new, updated offerings from packaged software vendors are making it more compelling than ever for many organizations to consider upgrading or migrating their ERP or enterprise applications to newer versions.

Of course, before you select a new ERP solution, you’ll want to do basic due diligence and check with customers that have deployed the specific technology or products you’re looking at to make sure that the solution works. Ask to talk to customers in the same industry, as well as customers in different industries, if possible, just to get additional ideas of how the software can be deployed and used to its fullest advantage.

Organizations considering an ERP migration or upgrade also have to contend with timing issues—when is the best time to consider such a move? From my perspective, the best time is when the business is actually doing well, not when it’s having problems that might force product choices or deployment decisions based simply on bottom line numbers and not on maximizing the potential benefits for an organization. It’s also important to consider the time of year when doing a change—in most cases, it’s best to pick a quiet or less active period in a business cycle, if there is one.

One of the unexpected benefits of changing your ERP platform is that it can be a good driver to do business change. In past, organizations would hire large consulting companies to come in and to do business process reengineering and completely revise business processes and systems. Today, many organizations are taking an alternative route and leveraging a change (or a potential change) to their ERP platform as an opportunity to re-examine their business processes and their approaches to automating them. Wherever possible, it’s important to leverage the best practices and existing business process capabilities that are engendered in a specific enterprise application.


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