Many companies implement their ERP system without considering the future. They implement to meet today’s needs, but not tomorrow’s.
One of the major areas they fail to consider is future ERP maintenance. But by doing so, they leave significant ERP value on the table.
One of the major benefits of ERP maintenance contracts is compliance updates. These patches bring your ERP systems up-to-date with regulatory changes (think tax changes).
Another benefit is new functionality. For example, your vendor might offer a free quality control module that wasn’t packaged with the original system.
Other benefits include:
- improved information flow
- new reporting functionality
- revised documentation
- updated hardware compatibility
Here are a couple of tips to help your company position itself to extract value from your ERP maintenance contracts.
1. Consider Maintenance During ERP System Selection
You should consider your future ERP maintenance and service needs as early as during the system selection phase. When deciding on a system, consider the extent of ERP software customization. The more a system’s code or database has to be customized, the more difficult it becomes to take advantage of maintenance services.
2. Plan for Future Maintenance During Implementation
As ERP systems implementers, we understand the importance of rapid ERP deployments, compressed budgets, and squeezed timelines. However, planning for your ERP system’s future (its lifecycle) is not a step that you should skip. An ERP system should be a productive asset for between 5 and 10 years. This means building in sufficient flexibility so that you can adapt the system to meet unknown future business and technical needs.
Implementing three different ERP environments is a good way to prepare for future maintenance and service.
- The first environment should be a development environment. This is where the IT department loads maintenance patches and where base functionality, custom code, and interfaces are tested.
- The second environment should be a quality assurance (QA) environment. This is where the users test their business scenarios against the newly installed software.
- When QA yields a successful upgrade, the updates should be moved over to the third environment, the live production environment.
Planning for your ERP system’s future maintenance needs enhances your systems productivity and, more importantly, your company’s ability to navigate through the future.
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