How ERP investment can unlock agile ways of working

By Edwin Kock, Christa van den Elzen

Today, modern cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are an ideal foundation for continuous business process improvement and adaption. Many companies are investing in the consolidation and modernisation of their ERP landscape. So why not use this opportunity to introduce the agile way of working to your organisation?

High-performing agile teams constantly improve and adapt end-to-end business processes to meet the latest customer and business model requirements. But traditional ERP systems hinder this agility as they are difficult to adjust, and usually require a significant multi-year investment to upgrade to the latest vendor functionality. This is mainly because the solutions are controlled on-premises by local IT, and as a result, have often been heavily customised to local business requirements and integrated into local application landscapes.

However, modern ERP systems are designed to be more flexible and to adjust to customer and business requirements. They are based on a composable architecture, an architecture of smaller easier adjustable building blocks. Additionally, modern ERP systems are cloud-based and maintained by the vendor, meaning they can ensure the software is always updated with the latest functionality.

With modern ERP platforms, it becomes easier to adapt processes to the latest business requirements, making this the ideal foundation for working in agile ways.

The advantages of an agile approach

Many companies invest heavily in the migration and consolidation of their ERP systems to establish the envisioned modern cloud-based ERP platform. For most, it’s a complex journey. Many different local ERP systems usually need to be consolidated, which includes harmonising processes and data. A lucky few already have an integrated ERP platform and can focus on a technical migration from the start. Yet the journey is worth sticking with.

Over the last few years, we have seen the huge advantages of using the agile approach to implementing ERP. This way of working is proven to deliver faster and better results when applied properly and driven by a business vision with business ownership. Advantages include:

  1. Better control over dependencies
  2. Hands-on experience from day one
  3. Continuous visibility over the status of the programme and solution
  4. Fast feedback loops from business owners.

The bigger picture

From working with a range of organisations on agile ERP implementations, we found it’s an excellent way of introducing an agile way of working into your company.

When a company has established a new modern cloud-based ERP platform, we recommend a change in working methods to stay on top of other benefits. The vendor will continue to release new functionality that will be instantly available when embedded into business processes. This requires a continuous business process improvement approach in which the wider business and IT teams work together to determine how to best introduce new capabilities.

An agile way of working in teams responsible for end-to-end business processes is a favoured approach. So why not use the ERP program to prepare for change? Implementing ERP in an agile way has many benefits, and at the same time, can introduce an organisation to a new way of working in a digital, complex, and interconnected world.

About the authors

Edwin Kock PA IT application expert
Christa van den Elzen PA Agile transformation expert

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