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Companies implement or upgrade ERP solutions to the cloud improve workflows, uncover new opportunities for growth, drive process efficiencies and free up employees’ valuable time for other critical tasks. 

A cloud ERP provides scalability to fit your needs as you grow, real-time analytics, greater security measures and data protection, and lower operating costs than on-premise systems. 

Yet 80% of companies fail to capture these projected benefits, according to McKinsey.  

IT and operations teams are sometimes overwhelmed with new features and functionality they don’t have time to understand or implement. And the team may not have time to give new solutions a second look – when those offerings could solve critical pain points.  

Other reasons for ERP failure post-implementation include: 

  • Internal resistance and low employee adoption  
  • Lack of proper training  
  • Misaligned – or unclear – expectations 
  • Poor implementation process  

These scenarios limit the impact an ERP investment can have on your business. 

If you want to be part of the 20% of companies that get the ROI they’re looking for, consider the following seven steps to get the most from your ERP implementation. 

Start in the planning stage to align business requirements with the ERP’s capabilities. 

Much like with any large project, it’s all about the details, and in the case of a new ERP system, those details need to be documented in the planning stage. Without a plan to align business requirements with technological capabilities, you won’t enable and accelerate the change you’re looking for. Start by asking: 

  • How can you think beyond the platform?  
  • How can you take advantage of all that your new system provides to support your business goals?  
  • What features currently exist? What features are in the pipeline? How do we make the most of them?  
  • What are the implications of the new features for our business, our processes and our organization?  

These questions will allow you to start thinking about the needs of your business to get the most from your ERP solution.  

Take advantage of available updates. 

With on-premise systems, updates might require years of planning, cost analysis and implementation. But in the cloud, technology is continuously updated. Microsoft releases up to eight updates a year for the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Cloud ERP platform, which keeps it evergreen.  

Microsoft releases a lot of documentation around each update; however, an IT team taking a deep dive to see how to leverage each and every update isn’t always practical. Businesses need a plan to manage these releases to ensure they’re using the latest and greatest, up-to-date version. 

Build a foundation for technical growth so you can adapt as your business changes. 

Before cloud ERP, you’d pool all the new feature requests and fixes from team members until the next round of updates to your software, which required merging related processes and financial streams.  

Now, with cloud ERP, these changes can be made on the go and not affect the company’s overall performance. If a new requirement emerges due to a change in your business – such as a new warehouse or an acquisition – your technology is primed to accommodate that change or extension of functionality.  

Adapt your ERP to meet new market demands. 

When the market shifts and your customer demands follow suit, you need to adapt your technology to meet these changes. According to Deloitte, environmental accountability is an ever-growing manufacturing trend. Consumers are increasingly demanding sustainable business practices, yet the rules and regulations around sustainability vary greatly on a global scale. 

Consider this scenario: A wood furniture company needs certification, such as from the Forest Stewardship Council in the U.S., to signal to customers that their raw material comes from legal and sustainable sources and have been responsibly produced. To gather the proper documentation for the certification, the manufacturer must trace and track goods from tree to showroom floor. 

To adhere to this changing demand – and remain competitive – companies need deeper functionality from their ERP system. In the case of our example, Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing, which includes both Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management and Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Insights, provides real-time visibility into the supply chain from sourcing to the production line to transportation. Tracing the production line – from raw materials to end-users – has never been easier. Another new platform, the Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, is in preview, and provides great capability to record, report and reduce your environmental impact in several areas of your business.  

Companies with visibility into how their existing technology can be supplemented by other solutions in the Microsoft family will be more agile and can move faster when the market demands it. 

Implement a proactive security plan. 

Businesses are facing a growing need to protect their data, comply with changing regulations and shield sensitive systems against emerging cyber threats. Another trend Deloitte’s 2022 Manufacturing Industry Outlook report was the ever-present threat of cybercrime.  

Although Microsoft technology provides world-class protection, you’re still responsible for your data as well as the general monitoring and operation of the ERP system. IT teams must proactively manage security to minimize risk, ensure compliance and maximize uptime.  

A proactive security plan should include: 

  • Assessing applications for vulnerabilities 
  • Accelerating remediation for any weak points
  • Continuously monitoring the environment for potential threats
  • Incorporating security throughout the application development lifecycle, including build, test and deployment 
  • Understanding and ensuring compliance with external regulations in your industry 

Incorporate new technology solutions. 

Microsoft and its partners’ offerings are vast. If you have a pain point in your organization, there’s a good chance that Microsoft or an ISV partner has the solution you need.  

For example, Microsoft Supply Chain Insights transforms weaknesses into strengths. Design and fortify a supply chain that can effortlessly weathers future disruptions while pinpointing risks before they turn into catastrophes. The solution uses artificial intelligence to alert companies about potential risks in their supply chain. Armed with these tools, companies can make more informed business decisions, collaborate more easily with their stakeholders and partners, fulfill demand on time and in full, increase operational efficiency and keep customers happy.   

If an existing Microsoft solution doesn’t meet your need, you may need to reach outside the Microsoft ecosystem to identify and implement a third-party ISV software solution. The benefit of an integrated ERP solution is that you no longer operate in siloes. Thousands of industry-specific niche solutions work with your existing ERP to help you get more out of your technology. 

Partner with an advisor.  

It can be hard to calibrate, implement and adapt a solution to support your business as it grows and changes without trusted advisors. While an in-house team may know your business best and buy-in may be higher from an internal project team, managing all the parts that come after go-live may stretch your internal team too far.  

For example, updates can cause errors. If an update conflicts with an integration or a third-party solution you opted for, it’s best to have a structured, tried-and-tested, transparent process for testing, validating and implementing updates, both technically and functionally, so business operations are minimally affected. 

At Columbus, we have a team of experts to support your ERP implementation and what comes next. Our goal is to ensure your solution supports your business goals and enables your IT team to drive your business forward. Reach out today to discuss how to optimize your company’s processes with the latest updates and technology to guarantee a return on your ERP investment. 

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