Many companies that have attempted to implement some type of enterprise management system in order to unite many of the processes that make their businesses processes run more smoothly have been disappointed by the results. These companies simply don't feel that the system has lived to their expectations. New studies, however, now indicate that the problem isn't that the enterprise system was a failure, but that these types of systems require more time and follow-through than managers may have envisioned in order to be successful.
There are several types of business management systems currently used: ERP software and CRM software. An ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system focuses on automating key parts of the business process, and is comprehensive, while CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools are a combination of applications that assist businesses with serving their customers more efficiently. Despite all the reports to the contrary, both types can deliver significant benefits to companies that use them and that are willing to plan carefully to make them work.
In addition to careful planning, businesses should also realize that unfair expectations about what their enterprise management system will do for them can sabotage their success. A 2003 poll found that less than half of the companies that implemented one of these systems achieved the majority of the benefits that had anticipated and just under 40% only received half of their expected benefits. These numbers suggest that managers and owners are expecting too much from the system, especially since many of the most common problems with enterprise management systems relates more to business practices and staff resistance than it does to the system itself.
Appropriate expectations for enterprise management systems can be determined by examining the results other companies have been able to achieve. Within the first year after implementation, more than many businesses report faster information transactions and better financial management, for example. Following the second year, over most of these companies also experienced improvements in process cycle time, decision-making, and inventory control. For additional benefits, such as a reduction in the necessary workforce and an increase in revenue, companies usually may need to wait several years to realize these benefits. Even then, there are some companies that still fail to achieve those benefits.
Businesses can boost their chances of success and of achieving most of what they expect if they put in place some best practices when they implement their enterprise management system. One of those practices is simply to remember that results don't come over night and neither do successful implementations. Easing a business into an enterprise system may not be what companies want, but it will increase their chances of seeing positive results even if those results take a few years.
A second important best practice is planning. With something as major as enterprise systems, it is critical that some preparation be done before the implementation. For example, companies that hired a full-time resource person to assist with the enterprise system were more likely to achieve the desired benefits faster than those that did not. Likewise, businesses who tracked their metrics and who prioritized their goals were also more likely to be successful.
The final practice isn't so much of an action as it is a change in thinking. Many companies think of the enterprise system's implementation has a single project. When it's completed, the project is over. However, the reality is that enterprise systems are ongoing projects that need to be continually evaluated, improved, and updated. Without this mindset, companies are more likely to find themselves among the few businesses who failed to receive any benefits from their enterprise system implementation.