Those of you in the market for a new ERP (enterprise resource planning) system are likely to have heard the term ‘postmodern ERP’ bandied around. While it might sound as if a philosophy professor has infiltrated the IT industry, the term was actually coined by tech research pioneers Gartner to refer to a newer approach that enables businesses to maximise their use of multiple suite/s rather than sticking to a one-size-fits-all approach. Business functions – while still integrated – are distinct and deconstructed, maintaining looser relationships to each other than in a more rigid, traditional ERP setup.
We’ve listed the most important pros and cons to bear in mind if your organisation is on the lookout for a new strategy:
Pro: Agility and flexibility
This is the first advantage that springs to most people’s mind when they think of postmodern ERP. Indeed, the best postmodern systems allow multiple users to make configuration changes, for example, as well as using several applications from the cloud that allow them to regularly implement upgrades as they’re released by software vendors.
As anyone who’s tried to work with a poorly designed postmodern system will tell you, the flip side to all this wonderful sounding agility is, inevitably, increased complexity. A traditional, single suite ERP might be rigid, but it is consistent and integrated by its very nature. An under-considered postmodern version runs the risk of increasing workloads rather than minimising them, often leading to mounting costs and a red faced CIO.
Gartner recommends implementing two or more individual ERP strategies, depending on how many categories of application there are in a particular organisation. The vast majority can be classified as either ‘administrative’ (finance; HR) or ‘operational’ (supply chain management; manufacturing). A postmodern approach allows for a truly bespoke system that caters much more effectively to the needs of each category than a conventional one, taking advantage of the most suitable offers from different vendors that can be housed either in a cloud-based or on-premises suite.
Con: Risking data integrity
The sharpest, high-speed algorithms and analytics mean nothing if the data quality they’re dealing with isn’t up to scratch. Ensuring the highest standards of data integrity is a crucial consideration when it comes to a dispersed postmodern ERP system, especially as the Internet of Things and digital business concerns become ever more important.
Pro: More efficient use of IT resources
A decent postmodern ERP environment can save considerable time. An efficient and well implemented strategy enables IT departments to focus on moving forward and differentiating rather than spending time maintaining an oversized legacy system.
Con: Integration isn’t as easy as it sounds
While the idea of individual, bespoke elements sounds wonderful in theory, many firms have discovered that integrating them effectively is another matter entirely. There are widely acknowledged, inescapable integration challenges to implementing postmodern strategies when compared with traditional, on-suite approaches – ignore the experts’ advice at your own risk.