Greetings Fellow ERP App Enthusiasts!

Hi, and thanks for stopping by. I joined Forrester just over a month ago and I plan to post here regularly with some thoughts on the ERP apps arena. I’m hoping this blog will serve as a place for us to exchange views, and I very much welcome your input.

As you know, Forrester is structured around roles, and I’m part of the analyst team serving the needs of business process professionals. My primary area of focus is enterprise resource planning software. I’m currently pulling together my research agenda for 2011, and I was wondering what top-of-mind issues you think I should be tackling.

At a high level, some of the areas I’m considering include:

  • Midmarket ERP.
  • SaaS ERP and PaaS.
  • ERP-flavored project management.

I’m also interested in hearing about midsize organizations and enterprises that have benefited from the successful deployment of one of the following:

  • SaaS ERP.
  • A two-tier combination of one vendor’s SaaS ERP integrating with another vendor's on-premise ERP.
  • Commercial open-source ERP.

I was previously an analyst with The 451 Group covering both ERP and CRM software, and I’m interested in the flow of business processes between those two kinds of apps. I’m also curious about ERP’s potential embrace of collaborative technologies and thinking in contrast to what’s already rapidly occurring in the CRM arena.

As a new Forresterite, I’m taking advantage of the training courses Forrester provides to become familiar with both the company’s philosophy and its writing style. In that regard, I’m benefiting greatly from the guidance of the many seasoned analysts within the business process team. I’m based in the Cambridge, Mass., office — although I just can’t seem to shake my British accent. Looking forward to engaging over the coming months and years. Cheers!


Wish you luck in the role of Forrester ERP analyst!

If you'd like to see an attempt in classifying enterprise software, such as ERP packages, from business perspective, you may take a look at:

It's still work in progress, but maybe you will find it interesting.

ERP-flavored project

ERP-flavored project management - that's a whole new area for ERP folks, who need to appreciate the complexities of project financials; integrating project timelines and WIP, and resource allocation/usage and billing between project management tools and the ERP
Would be interested to see if you can figure out which is the favoured project management tool by industry, size - MS Project, Primavera etc

Welcome China

Welcome China - I always interested in reaching out to a fellow peer. Many sources speak to the symptoms that result in ERP implementation failure but few speak to the root cause of these failures. The root cause has more to do with the wrong implementation strategy. Today, the majority of ERP implementations follow a traditional, “build-from-scratch” approach that is not adequate for implementing packaged software like ERP. What is required is an approach that addresses both the inherent advantages and challenges associated with ERP. Following are 10 principles to assist you in build the right ERP implementation strategy.

Mid Market ERP

Most start-up businesses that grow, reach a point where the software systems they used to help them grow, actually become part of the problem, stifling future growth.

Many business owners then make the mistake, and yes it can be a big mistake, of looking for something to ‘add-on’ to relieve the bit of the immediate problem they can see, clinging on to the familiar system that has helped them in the past, convincing themselves that if they can just add or develop a bit here and a bit there it will be fine.

In reality, what has happened can be likened to having set off down a particular track on a pump – truck, upgrading to a steam train, and when that steam train is running out of steam – trying to fit an expansion chamber to the boiler to make it go fast again! It may work for a short while, but we all know where that approach will end up. When you have succeeded up to the point where you are competing with companies who are super- efficient, you need the right tools yourself to stand a chance of survival – let alone prospering!

Some firms try for years to enhance their existing systems, unable to see that all of this time they are struggling to stay on top of their systems - they are actually falling behind in the market place. A company that has slowed in growth is actually falling behind competitors that have sustained their growth rate. Also, the longer firms hang on to their now unsuitable systems, the further entrenched they become in their viewpoint that the system they have will be ‘sorted’ for them ‘one day’. It never is.

Once the decision has been taken to upgrade systems to allow the business to grow – a long term view needs to be taken for two reasons:

1) The chosen system should be considered as much as possible in terms of how big and in what direction the company is intending to grow. Nobody has a crystal ball here – so the flexibility of any chosen system must also be a major consideration for a wise investment.

2) It is a long term investment – so look at the level of investment now and consider very carefully the potential / realistic payback scenarios. Under investment and over investment both put the company at unnecessary risk, there is a balance to find here, it is MOST important to get as close to the perfect balance as possible at this stage.

Very, very rarely, a system off the shelf will match what you are looking for it do for you. In reality, question again and again how EXACTLY any proposed system matches your requirements. Changes to any part of any truly fully integrated system (If they are offered at all) – are likely to have consequences somewhere else in the system (otherwise... they are not integrated are they!), so always check what the consequences of any bespoke changes may be before proceeding. An inflexible system that doesn’t match parts of your requirements should be discounted at an early stage.

Finally; If your current systems are already causing you problems – act decisively, act now. If you are not making as much profit as you can right now, right now you ARE REALLY losing money. Stop it. Now.