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Starting from scratch


While large and experienced ERP system users are extending and updating their use of the technology according to need, at the other end of the spectrum some firms have yet to work out where best to start.

Stefan Koch, SAP’s global lead for metals, stresses that the uninitiated should always start with their existing business processes and choose one to focus on according to their broader business strategy. “They start with their core business first before progressing to leading-edge applications,” says Koch. “Lots start with finance first, but we can help them to identify the best place to start.”

He stresses that – as companies purchasing software would naturally want themselves – it is key to look for the areas where introducing software will improve a business process and increase profitability. In other words, look for the quick wins first.

Downstream, many enterprises are interested in finding ways to get closer to their customers and understand their orientation. Customer-facing applications that will help to sell more product and provide better customer service have become a focus. Machine learning connected with a social media interface is an approach some companies are adopting.

Upstream, getting better control of the supply chain and inventory management are areas in which companies are often looking for software to help. As IT specialists invariably advise, it is always best to start with the business problem and work from there than to jump to an off-the-shelf software solution. What do you want to achieve and who is in charge of the process are two key questions to answer fully before proceeding, Koch advises.

Existing references from other organizations that a company may wish to emulate can provide ideas, but “Mature organizations will look at the business value to be gained before deciding what to do,” says Koch. Some may then choose to extend beyond the standard ‘skeleton’ to give themselves a competitive advantage.

By: Richard Barrett

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