Manufacturing Tomorrow


Should Manufacturers Use Short-Term Solutions To Fix Legacy ERP Problems

Dec 13, 2016
Manufacturing and Distribution

It’s fine for manufacturers to use stopgap measures to address problems with legacy ERP systems, but they shouldn’t lose sight of the need for true solutions.

An article on the CIO website describes what’s known as the iceberg metaphor in business. The tip of the iceberg is IT spending on mobility, Big Data and improving the experience for customers. It’s the part that gets all of the attention. The larger part, consisting of spending associated with legacy systems, is hidden from view and where you find problems with expense, integration and security.

When she was the CIO at Southwire, Sheryl Fikse Bunton addressed this problem with mobile solutions. The company’s older systems complicated sales order entry, making it difficult for salespeople to do their job. The solution Southwire devised was to connect older systems with application program interfaces (APIs) compatible with iPads.

“Our API solution took away the issue of having an old system over here and a new one over there,” Bunton tells CIO. “Our employees no longer had to open up three screens before they completed their process.”

If you have a legacy system and front-end issues, then by all means the mobile platform solution outlined in the article makes sense. However, it needs to be viewed as a step in the right direction, or a bridge to get you where you truly need to go. It shouldn’t be seen as a way to take your foot off the gas and ignore the real problem. In the long run, you still need to address the larger issues.

Keep in mind that technology is critical to recruiting the best employees. If you’re using an old legacy system, prospective employees are going to see that as a red flag. That’s especially true as more millennials move up in the working world. For example, if you’re in a sales environment using inefficient technologies, you’ll have to work harder to make the same quota as a sales rep working for an organization with the latest tools.

The bottom line is that short-term solutions are fine, but only if you make sure to upgrade outdated systems in the long run.

Source: CIO, February 2014

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