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How Does Your ERP Grow?

How Does Your ERP Grow?

CIOs believe ERP - like love - can be better the second time around. But this time they're doing it their way: get more from existing systems with less help

Patrick Corporation IT manager David Hackshall received a CV a little while ago from a consultant wanting to charge the company $230,000 a year for ERP work. It is not going to happen, says Hackshall. Not these days. Patrick is a very lean shop with an ERP support staff half the size of that of most other organisations and absolutely no requirement for consultants to help it with future work.

" We didn't customise the software, so we don't have this overhead, this burden of maintenance," Hackshall says. No overhead means no consultants, full stop.

Nor is Patrick alone in that. The years of hard yards and untold millions of dollars invested in enterprise resource planning systems to automate key back-office business processes was, of course, only half the struggle. Most organisations are now deep in the throes of a second, highly-focused wave of ERP effort aimed at promoting efficiency in handling transactions, enhanced standardisation, improved decision-making, the release of existing functionality and further transformation in ways of doing business.

As Deloitte Consulting found when it interviewed a cross-section of installers, users and executives from 62 Fortune 500 companies in 1999, ERP is only the foundation upon which new levels of competitive advantage can be built. Technology alone just will not cut it, so the second wave of ERP effort is focused on achieving a balanced mix of process, people and technology, striving to take the organisation to the next level by leveraging capabilities and driving benefits.

" Our second wave is getting right what we didn't get right as part of the first wave," says Jeff Seed, general manager IT, Sugar Australia, about the organisation's JD Edwards implementation. " It's not surprising you don't get it 100 per cent right in the first implementation when you consider all the bits from the technical side to the business processes through to the software through to the data integrity. The biggest advantage the second time around is that people aren't struggling with a new system for the very first time. With experience under their belts they have a better idea of what you are talking about, so you're perhaps concentrating more on the business outcome than which button to press."

But this time around organisations are doing it their way, and that means they are largely doing it on their own. It seems many organisations have acquired more than enough expertise during their ERP implementation efforts to give most of their consultants the heave-ho as they conduct their post-ERP development efforts .

According to Ericsson IT director Cameron Maroney, there just isn't the need for ERP consulting services that there once was. " When we implemented our system here . . . we did it with PwC, and used them comprehensively as most companies did. That was the case really with Ericsson on a number of fronts around the world. PwC continue to provide us with level two support desk for our local system, but now it's a different ball game."

For Ericsson that ball game is a concerted effort to move to SAP globally from the two or three other ERP systems still being run in Ericsson operations around the world, even as it standardises the many SAP iterations in individual market units. Many global organisations are doing the same.

Accenture consults to Ericsson these days, but not as project manager and key deliverer of Ericsson's implementation so much as a complementary resource to its own internal resources. " In the implementation across Asia-Pacific, for example," Maroney says, " there might be three or four people from Accenture involved, which constitutes something less than 10 per cent of the team, whereas it may have been approaching the inverse to that the first time around."

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