A whopping 60% of ERP customers said they didn’t see the benefit they were expecting (source). Time to explore a new alternative to ERP.
ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems are complicated. Their features list alone make you wonder, is there a different path towards growing the organization? If you are feel overwhelmed by the options and lack of clarity in the ERP field, let’s talk about an alternative approach which, without the crazy. “All in” ERP might not be the best option for your company.
The features list is the main attractor to ERP systems. It’s all under one tool. That approach has some hefty downsides.
- All the money and time you have spent on current tools is now trashed
- The entire company needs to be trained on a new, complex tool
- Nobody in the company gets to use their favorite tool
- Connecting to modern cloud software is difficult or impossible
- You can only customize withing the boundaries your ERP outlines
Those are all big deals! It boils down to hoping that the CEO of your ERP will have the same vision for your companies tools that you do, and for a long time.
You probably already feel uneasy about jumping into an ERP software system because of the control you must give up. Control over how your data is used, by whom and when, that’s the lifeblood of the company.
In a survey by SoftwareAdvice.com 59% of ERP buyers said their top reason for seeking an ERP system was the need to improve integration of data between processes and systems. Yes, can you achieve perfectly consistent data in an ERP, but it will be on their terms, not yours.
Still, choosing a ERP is a popular route. You can see the logic being clearly laid out: I have so many systems that aren’t talking to eachother, less systems are better, therefore replace many systems with one. We don’t see it that way. The problem isn’t too many tools, it’s too many tools that aren’t connected intelligently.
Why not take all the time, money and effort you have put into your current software tools and processes, and connect them really well?
Alternative to ERP: Add Brains Between Existing tools
Let’s approach this problem holistically. There are already tools and processes that your team members and yourself have spend a lot of time integrating. Build on top of those tools and you now save time and money. That means you can focus on your core competency rather than retraining the whole enterprise.
It’s important that we frame the challenge correctly. The point here is to break down the walls between departments and processes and software tools. They have the right information already, so just get it to all the right spots at the right time. The problem is not that you have too many systems. Each cell in your body is a system with it’s down data, instructions, output, process. Problems happen when the communication get mixed up or muddled between the cells. ERP is akin to fixing sickness by replacing many cells with one big one! Can you imagine how complex that cell would be! This one cell is expected to preform EVERY function.
This is too much to ask of a cell, and we think it’s too much to ask of any single system.
How To Connect Existing Tools
Popular approaches to interconnect software include integration platforms like Zapier and IFTTT or writing your own custom software. Sometimes those approaches make perfect sense. If the task can be done with Zapier or other ETL (extact transform load), no-code software, you have to write custom software. This is certainly an option, but will it help or hurt your core competency? In many cases it will hurt.
The approach we offer is a service and a platform. The platform allows us to connect anything with an API, and the service means you don’t have to code it yourself. The result is this: we can connect to ANY tool or platform or person or machine intelligently, as long as there is a reasonable way to do it. This approach is about bringing visibility to management and enhancing interdepartmental communication and timeliness.
A law firm reached out to use because they needed to optimize and interconnect their fulfillment process. The process was wide-ranging, covering these areas:
- Processing an incoming lead
- Checking for a conflict of interest
- Scheduling law team
- Writing legal documents
- Securely sharing documents
- Preparing witnesses
The ERP approach would have replaced their existing tools that were working, but we didn’t do that. We integrated their existing case management tool with other tools to create a robust processes. This process spans multiple online software tools, multiple people, and even communicates with their clients. It resulted in a 68% reduction in human tasks!