Five Ways to Make the Most of Your ERP Investment

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, like all business systems, are complex and require mindful integration into an organization and diligent upkeep—regardless of whether you've had your ERP system for six months or six years. No matter how well-designed or intuitive the system may be, it's challenging for an organization to fully utilize ERP to its potential. You could be getting more out of your ERP investment.

Five Ways to Make the Most of Your ERP Investment Epicor White Paper Five Ways to Make the Most of Your ERP Investment 1 Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, like all business systems, are complex and require mindful integration into an organization and diligent upkeep—regardless of whether you’ve had your ERP system for six months or six years. No matter how well-designed or intuitive the system may be, it’s challenging for an organization to fully utilize ERP to its potential. You could be getting more out of your ERP investment. Technology is ever-evolving. For software providers, staying idle is not an option—it’s a continuous journey of research, discovery, and advancement. At the risk of over-simplifying a complex issue, the easiest way to make the most out of your ERP investment is by dedicating time to understanding the improvements that have been created for the system since your initial implementation. However, this simple task can involve a daunting amount of information. Faced with this and innumerable other demands on your time, where do you begin? Here are five ways that Epicor users—and all software users—can make the most of their ERP investment. Five Ways to Make the Most of Your ERP Investment 2 1. Fully utilize the system and its capabilities It’s nearly impossible to find an ERP system that fits your business perfectly out of the box. Instead, companies select the system that most closely suits their business needs and finds a way to work around missing components or limited functionality. Selecting the software that provides the fundamental functionality you need now and in the future, delivered by a company that supports customers’ needs, is more important than trying in vain to find that perfect fit. When companies first implement ERP systems, they focus on the tools, capabilities, and modules that are most critical to their operations. Still, there are likely additional tools and capabilities the system offers that may have been missed. Some of these tools might be available out of the box, but others may require add-on expenses— which companies may put off until the ROI on the overall system can be proven. The risk of waiting is that you can easily get into a comfort zone with the system, where adding tools and modules can be seen more as a chore than a necessity. This delays the integration of tools that can help your business and make a real impact on the bottom line. Furthermore, as your company evolves, there may be elements of the system that you can integrate into your operations that hadn’t been necessary in the past. It’s smart to periodically evaluate the system’s capabilities to see if there’s additional functionality you can utilize. 2. Stay on the current release Software developers are constantly working to improve their products, whether by incorporating the latest technological advancements, optimizing current programs, or integrating with other programs/vendors. It’s the ERP software vendor’s job to improve their products. It’s up to the user to take advantage of these improvements by staying on the latest release. Research has shown that companies using the most recent version of their ERP software perform better than those running outdated solutions. Newer ERP systems offer¹: X Mobile functionality so your staff can stay on top of key business activities from anywhere, anytime X Better standard features, such as integrated analytics tools and industry- specific functions X Improved vendor support and easier transitions to each new release X More integration possibilities to connect the systems essential to your organization X Simpler compliance and security with each update incorporating the necessary regulatory requirements Staying on the most current release not only helps protect the security of your data, it helps ensure that you can take advantage of hundreds of tools that can integrate with the system. Solutions like business intelligence, eCommerce, tax software, and CRM tools designed to integrate with modern ERP systems position your business to provide customers with what they need—and set you apart from the competition. Epicor customer Joe Murphy with Interstate Connecting Components cautions against missing releases. “It’s easy to get comfortable with the version [of software] you’re running, but each release has features that can improve specific business processes,” said Murphy. It’s also important learn what changes have been made between releases to appropriately prepare and train users. “The largest benefit of updating to the newest version of Prophet 21 is the ability to differentiate ourselves from our competition. Staying up to date gives us the latest tools and technology to stay on the leading edge. Keeping on the latest version helps us to continually streamline our processes and find new ways to work smarter and more efficiently. We feel confident that these efforts are producing greater efficiencies, tools, and technologies that will benefit Stellar for years to come.” Adam Linger, Technical Administrator Stellar Industrial Supply “Prophet 21 has a rich set of developer tools that give us the ability to modify it for our needs— whether that’s through tools such as the DynaChange Rules or AutoOrder or simply the flexibility it gives us as a SQL-based solution, we know Epicor is a reliable solution for us.” —Brian Schank, CTO Links Unlimited 1“5 Signs It’s Time to Upgrade Your ERP System,” CIO, February 9, 2018. Five Ways to Make the Most of Your ERP Investment 3 3. Include ERP system training during new employee onboarding It’s important to get new hires up to speed quickly both with general and role-specific ERP training. If you don’t already have an onboarding agenda that includes this training, check with your system provider to see if they have resources available for this purpose. Not only does this create a repeatable, predictable process, it ensures that new hires are properly and consistently trained. This is especially important if you’re operating with multiple locations and don’t have the time, budget, or staff available to travel for training. Epicor customer Midland Scientific has multiple locations nationwide and chose the software in part because of the ease of use. “We selected Prophet 21 because of its ability to be user-friendly. We have increased in staff dramatically since we purchased Prophet 21, and we continue to find that it’s very easy for people to be trained on it and to understand the system,” said Vivian Pappel, president of Midland Scientific. 4. Encourage ongoing training Training shouldn’t start and end with new employees. Existing employees can benefit from additional training—especially after a new release is implemented. ERP providers should supply training resources to help users fully utilize the system, and companies should leverage those resources. It’s important to keep in mind that everyone has different learning styles, so provide training that’s modern, interactive and engaging, and can be delivered on any device so employees can train when and where it’s most convenient for their schedules. Epicor has taken a new approach to training by presenting scenario-based learning—things customers see in their day-to-day activities. According to Bill Meldrum with Etna Supply, “Epicor University offers the best education available for these systems in the industry. It’s easy to make friends with the instructors, who never rush you and take the time to answer every question.” 5. Engage in user groups Let’s face it—you don’t know what you don’t know. One way to learn more about your ERP software is to participate in user groups. These groups are a great way to gain insight from other users, and a good place to go with questions you cannot answer or problems you can’t solve. User groups may require formal membership, but they provide an informal platform where you can get answers to just about any question you have about the system. Jorge Echave, CEO at Midwest Wholesale Hardware and Epicor customer, goes to the Worldwide User Group (WWUG) as a first line of information. “Not ‘reinventing the wheel’ as a result of information provided by the WWUG, has helped us save time and money in reaching a desired outcome,” noted Echave. In addition to user groups, check with your ERP vendor to see if there are other areas in which you can learn more about the system— and influence future releases—such as user teams, focus groups, and beta tests. “We really get a lot out of the comprehensive training resources Epicor provides for us, making sure that all of our associates leverage the system for their department’s maximum benefit.” —Andrew Wright, COO Mercedes Medical Inc. “Don’t ignore ongoing employee training as a critical factor in your company’s profitability. The investment we put into educating our staff each year on better business processes and new and advanced features of Prophet 21 pays off many times over in the form of higher customer satisfaction and greater revenue per employee. You’re shooting yourself in the foot if you cut ongoing training and improvement from your budget.” —Renee Lytle, CFO E.B.Horsman & Son “Epicor listens to our needs, wants, and they are often able to add what we ask into future releases. The company truly values its user community.” —Brian Schank, CTO | Links Unlimited About Epicor Epicor Software Corporation drives business growth. We provide flexible, industry-specific software designed to fit the precise needs of our manufacturing, distribution, retail, and service industry customers. More than 45 years of experience with our customers’ unique business processes and operational requirements are built into every solution—in the cloud or on premises. With this deep understanding of your industry, Epicor solutions dramatically improve performance and profitability while easing complexity so you can focus on growth. For more information, connect with Epicor or visit Contact us today [email protected] The contents of this document are for informational purposes only and are subject to change without notice. Epicor Software Corporation makes no guarantee, representations, or warranties with regard to the enclosed information and specifically disclaims, to the full extent of the law, any applicable implied warranties, such as fitness for a particular purpose, merchantability, satisfactory quality, or reasonable skill and care. This document and its contents, including the viewpoints, dates, and functional content expressed herein are believed to be accurate as of its date of publication, February 2019. The results represented in this testimonial may be unique to the particular user as each user’s experience will vary. The usage of any Epicor software shall be pursuant to the applicable end user license agreement, and the performance of any consulting services by Epicor personnel shall be pursuant to applicable standard services terms and conditions. Usage of the solution(s) described in this document with other Epicor software or third-party products may require the purchase of licenses for such other products. Epicor and the Epicor logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of Epicor Software Corporation in the United States, certain other countries and/or the EU. All other trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners. Copyright © 2019 Epicor Software Corporation. All rights reserved. Five Ways to Make the Most of Your ERP Investment Summary It takes time and effort to get the most out of your ERP investment, but most users find that the gains in process efficiency—and the time and money saved by using the system to its optimum capability—are well worth the effort. You don’t need to tackle all of these recommendations at once. Even following through on a few of these tips can provide immediate results. Rank the recommendations based upon what’s most achievable given your budget and available time—or rank them by what actions will have the biggest and most immediate impact on your business. If it’s been a while since you’ve trained your staff, or if you don’t have an onboarding program, try starting with training. If you’re several releases behind on your software, maybe it’s time to look at upgrading. Epicor invests significant time and resources to provide our users with the tools they need to succeed—including a robust on-demand training library, a simplified upgrade path, and product updates that incorporate ideas and suggestions from user groups. In short, Epicor is dedicated to helping its customers make the most of their ERP software. Visit to learn how Epicor solutions can help you optimize your business to get the most from your ERP. “Understanding how to mine data from our (Eclipse) ERP software was a huge advantage for us. We had the pieces, but nothing was being used to its full potential. Epicor really shines when showing how to tie together an entire system.” —Josh Aberman, General Manager, | Lehman Pipe and Plumbing Supply