I recently had the opportunity to attend a conference of senior finance executives. What struck me was the considerable degree of interest in technology among CFOs. ERP, applications, application integration, digital payments, digital currency, you name it, they were all there.
Clearly technology has become fundamental to a company’s future and progress. A competitive differentiator, if you will. No longer is it something to be left to the IT department alone.
In short, IT matters. A lot.
Coming up repeatedly as a topic of discussion was ERP. For me it was reminiscent of the wide interest in ERP back in the ‘90s.
Let me dive a bit deeper.
Basically CFOs understand that is not enough to roll out an ERP system and automate processes. That in of itself does not provide compelling advantage. What does is to put in place unique processes that serve as competitive differentiators and use ERP as a tool to automate these specialized processes.
Which brings me to the subject of ERP customization. Something that vendors have tended to discourage and is considered to be something that is to be minimized. However if you need to have in place unique processes, there is no getting away from customization.
Instead I would submit that it is essential to bring out full value from the effort. Sounds like heresy but that is what it is.
When we talk of business processes and unique advantage, a topic that is closely related is business process reengineering (BPR).
Going back to the drawing board. Moving from as-is to to-be processes. Cutting out the red tape, the inefficiencies. Doing things in a way that makes most sense.
BPR and ERP seem to go hand in hand. As they always did.
All of this has a strong whiff of the 90s. As in a long of other matters tech, the past is back in fashion. Old is gold after all.