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Last year, Aberdeen Group put together a report on why companies can’t afford to be hesitant when making a decision about ERP software.
ERP is Enterprise Resource Planning. Epicor ERP provider recently shared some of the findings from the report which I found an interesting read so took time to read the Aberdeen Group report in more detail. It seems there are some strong parallels here between ERP, MIS or maybe even software in general.
Having ERP software is extremely useful for businesses, but it needs to be kept up to date. It’s the same with your MIS. A lot of things in the Aberdeen Group report can relate to the issues we face with our customers and their decisions on whether to upgrade to the latest versions of their MIS.
Almost half of companies (49%) who don’t have ERP, say it’s because they are too small, 23% believe they can function effectively without an ERP. These organisations show that they have no intention of growing and are unaware of the huge role technology will play in their future. It’s extremely important to keep up with your competitors, if you don’t have any enthusiasm or interest in the latest technologies, you’re at risk of getting left behind.
The report states that 55% of companies who upgraded their ERP, did so, so they could take advantage of new technologies. In addition, 20% said their old version wasn’t compatible with new technologies.
A parallel with MIS can be seen here too. MIS suppliers don’t release new versions just for the sake of it, this would be an unnecessary expense. They will contain;
1) New features and ideas that have been suggested by MIS customers (i.e. yourself and / or your competitors)
2) New module options that have been identified by the MIS provider as something they believe will be a Unique Selling Point to their solution and something their customer base will benefit from and want to buy.
3) Support for integration with other packages that have been updated e.g. new version of accounts software.
4) Support for updated platforms e.g. Latest version of Windows operating system.
5) Fixes and solutions to issues identified by their customers or own internal testing, hence providing an improved version.
Certainly, for Tharstern, we are constantly improving and developing new integrations, such as Enfocus Switch and web-to-print solutions such as , Vpress, Flex4 and Pressero.
If we think about this for a moment - knowing that the newest version of an ERP or MIS contains the latest and greatest, is mainly driven by customer requests and has adopted new technology, it’s important to make sure that your business, at the very least, has the same opportunities as your competitors. You can even try and get the upper hand, by being early adopters of upgrades and new technology this can become your competitive advantage.
The report shows evidence of less effective organization and performance, due to delayed implementation or upgrade. Those on the latest version of ERP performed better in various areas than those who either don’t have ERP, or are on an older version. This finding is just as relevant to MIS as well - from our own experience we see so often that the leading, financially-fit, recognized customers, are the ones who are using the latest version and are keen to be amongst the first to upgrade. They even work with us as Beta sites to develop, drive and test new ideas and features.
A challenge we are currently trying to work out with some of our customers, is helping them upgrade to the latest version of our estimating module. Some of them are still on our first version because they are comfortable with it, it still works so they don’t see the need to replace it – ‘If it’s not broken, don’t fix it – right?’
Some also believe they don’t have the resource or the time to upgrade – making them less motivated to embrace the forward-thinking attitude of their competitors.
This could be argued as limiting their opportunity for growth - compared to our customers that have already upgraded. It also runs the danger that the longer you leave it the harder and, in some cases, the more expensive and time consuming the project can become. As it soon becomes not just about having to update your software but your hardware too, which can then lead to having to update other applications too.