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October 26, 2018|
I love analogies and my talks with customers are usually full of them. To me, they create a link between technology and business drivers. Technology alone isn’t always enough. Yes, you may own a robust suite of applications to meet business requirements, but you also need a strategy that will enable you to maximize the value of large-scale technologies, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) software like Oracle’s JD Edwards. It’s no different than jumping in a fast car to drive across the country or even across town, you need to have a strategy to get from point A to point B in the most efficient manner by taking advantage of the strengths of the vehicle and minimizing the roadblocks.
Eighty-one percent of digitally mature companies have a clear and coherent digital strategy in place. This figure drops significantly, to 15 percent, for companies that have made little progress in their digital transformation.¹
To better leverage your JD Edwards system for your business needs, you must develop a strategy that’s tailored to your company’s priorities. Here are seven essential components to build into your ERP strategy to ensure its effectiveness.
Strategy is a map toward a set destination. To get there, you’ll first have to assess the current state of your organization. Determine:
From here, you can turn your gaze to the future: where do you want to go next? What goals do you and the business need and want to achieve? Set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, result-focused, and time-oriented) goals for your JDE system.
Once the future state is imagined, identify gaps in technology (i.e., versions, coding) as well as in-house expertise and capabilities that could hinder your strategy. Include potential solutions for any problems you have, such as using JDE managed services to extend limited in-house staff capabilities.
Just as it’s necessary to perform an internal audit, you’ll want to investigate the industry and market at large. The aim of the exercise is to understand the uses and best practices of JD Edwards for businesses that have similar processes. Manufacturing companies will leverage their systems differently than civil engineering companies, for example. They’ll also have information on different tools and efficiencies that you may want to adopt in your own organization.
Although not always easy to capture without the help of service providers like Oracle partners, such industry benchmarks can inform your strategy to inspire fresh thinking and clarify where improvements must be needed.
Staying current on software versions is a crucial step in getting the most out of your JD Edwards system, yet by no means should you upgrade to the very latest version the day it’s released. Doing so may not fit with your business needs or it may create new issues.
Your strategy should consider a process that will help you make effective upgrading decisions as well as a schedule on when and how upgrades will be implemented. Consider what’s included in each upgrade and how it will affect your business, then weigh the advantages against the potential problems the upgrade could cause.
Your ERP strategy should include an upgrade schedule that takes these factors into account. You may need to independently evaluate every upgrade, building in time to review new versions, such as EnterpriseOne, before determining when, or if, it makes sense for your business to upgrade your JDE system.
In addition to upgrades, your strategy should consider how and when to introduce functional enhancements to JDE applications. Further, it should include a process to assess the benefits and risks of such enhancements. For example, your business could require each enhancement be directly aligned to solve a specific business pain point or drive toward a specific goal.
Planning functional enhancements around goals and inefficiencies that affect your business results is a great place to begin improving your JDE system. You can also create functionality based on processes that could give your business a competitive advantage.
You don’t need to migrate to the cloud immediately – or even in the near future – or but you do need to keep the cloud on your radar. The cloud can help improve security, access, and make upgrades easier. It can also take months to migrate to, especially if your system is highly customized.
Consider your long-term cloud strategy when creating a larger JD Edwards ERP strategy, including when it may make sense to fully transition to the cloud. Remember, you don’t need to transition immediately, or even all at once. Many companies use a hybrid cloud and on-premise solution to make the transition gradually when it fits business needs.
While you’re considering how to modernize your technology through the cloud, you can also consider Innovation IT models that could help you improve your JDE development processes. Continuous delivery, for example, could help your team deliver new functionality and bug fixes to end users faster. If your team could use continuous delivery, continuous integration, or automation tools to improve your processes, build that transition into your long-term ERP strategy.
Sometimes technology alone isn’t enough. Often times, companies can have the very latest upgrades and functional enhancements and they still can’t capture the most value out of their JD Edwards applications.
Your strategy should go beyond base technology to incorporate staff and user training. By training your staff, you help ensure they have the knowledge and skills to use the system effectively. Identifying skills gaps, which is also included in your internal assessment, should become a cyclical practice that may benefit from external experts with the necessary depth of ERP experience.
An ERP strategy is essential, but it’s ineffective if you don’t have a way to execute it. Once your goals and processes are in place, start prioritizing them. What will have the biggest impact on your business? What can you deprioritize? Create a schedule that maps out the steps required to complete each project.
Of course, not all elements of your strategy – consider version and functional upgrades – can be fully planned in advance. However, planning wherever possible will ensure you stay on track and key elements of your strategy are widely known among your IT team and business leaders. By keeping your strategy and its execution top of mind, you help demonstrate how your team is using technology strategically to improve your business, along with setting deadlines to ensure tasks get done.
Building and executing an ERP strategy begins with setting aside the time to do it. It also requires bringing the right experts to the table to provide the input needed to shape a strategy that will drive your business toward its goals.
Create your strategy in conjunction with other key business leaders, getting your CIO, CTO, CEO, and other stakeholders in a room to provide feedback. Everyone should understand your plan moving forward and how you’re going to address crucial technology and process needs. Successfully getting buy-in from top leadership and team members at this stage will help ensure your strategy is a success.