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ERP Software Accelerators: Are They the Silver Bullet of Enterprise Software Implementations?

ERP software implementations can be tricky, so ERP accelerators are a welcome opportunity to help companies implement more quickly and cost effectively.  As we’ve highlighted in our ERP research, 93% of the time an ERP implementation takes longer than expected, while 65% cost more than expected.  It’s refreshing to see software vendors trying to proactively address these issues.

Accelerators are pre-configured versions of an ERP software solution, usually based on specific industry verticals.  Some vendors also provide tools designed to accelerate the configuration process by providing lists of standard questions that their functional consultants use to configure the software to meet a client’s business requirements.  Vendors such as SAP and Oracle are marketing these accelerators in their push to appeal to small and mid-size enterprise (SME) customers, who are generally sensitive to implementation time, cost, and risk.

However, are accelerators the silver bullet a company needs to implement ERP quickly and painlessly?  Not exactly.

Three Common Misconceptions About ERP Software Accelerators

  1. People and business processes are the challenge, not the software. Our research indicates that less than 25% of an average ERP implementation’s duration and cost is related to installing and configuring software.  In other words, setting up the software is a relatively simple part of an implementation.  The other 75% is related to defining business processes and workflows, organizational roles and responsibilities, process-based user documentation, training, and dozens of other critical implementation activities.  Software accelerators do not provide shortcuts for these key activities.
  2. “Pre-configuration” may or may not meet your specific requirements. Although pre-configured accelerators are usually created for specific industry verticals, any given company in a given industry has unique differentiators and competitive advantages that are not going to be addressed by a vanilla configuration.  Companies that successfully leverage ERP for a competitive advantage do so by using the software to create a competitive advantage different from other industry competitors.  While it is true that certain functions are standard non-differentiators (think accounting, GL, or payroll processes), a big challenge is leveraging enterprise software to address unique areas such as customer relationship management (CRM), manufacturing, or business intelligence (BI).  Effectively addressing these key areas are what tend to extend the software implementation process.
  3. Decision-making and executive alignment cannot be automated or accelerated. While accelerators may speed the technical configuration process, they are not going to speed up an organization’s decision making process.  ERP implementations are chalked full of strategic, operational, organizational, and business process decisions that need to be defined before customization can begin.  As we’ve discovered in our experience and research, most ERP delays are related not to software installation or configuration, but to issues surrounding client decisions, testing workflows, training employees, etc.

We are not suggesting that ERP software accelerators are not useful to implementation teams, because they can be.  Anything that helps reduce the complexity of an enterprise software implementation is more than welcome.  However, they are not the silver bullet that some vendors claim them to be and are often more effective as a vendor sales tool than a practical way to materially reduce ERP implementation durations.  It is also important to understand that even with accelerators, ERP software implementations still require a great deal of hard work, tough decisions, and time-consuming activities.

What do you think?  Share your thoughts on ERP software accelerators in our weekly ERP poll.

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More Stories By Eric Kimberling

Founder and president of Panorama Consulting Group. Founded in 2005 and headquartered in Denver, Colorado, Panorama Consulting Group is a niche consulting firm specializing in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) market for mid-sized companies across the globe. Independent of affiliation, Panorama helps firms evaluate and select ERP software, manages the implementation of the software, and facilitates all related organizational changes to assure that each of its clients realize the full business benefits of their ERP implementation. We minimize ERP risk, accelerate implementation progress, and increase the success and value of your ERP initiatives.

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