Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions continue to provide businesses great and small with the tools to increase visibility, streamline productivity and facilitate growth – all from a secure, centralised platform. Yet with evolving economic challenges, solution providers need to prepare for the changing needs of businesses both now, and in the future. With 2023 fast approaching, we explore five trends in software requirements that we’re seeing evidence of now and that are sure to drive the software implementation industry through the new year and beyond.
- Rising numbers of software migration projects from out-of-development software
With end-of-life financial software such as Sage 1000 and Sage Line 500 no longer able to meet the fast-changing needs of businesses, cutting-edge cloud ERP solutions offer a safe haven long-term, a multitude of additional functionality and the ability to integrate everything. Automating processes across all departments with reliable, real-time data to inform business-critical decisions, users of cloud software like NetSuite can rest assured that they are always operating from the most up-to-date version – with seamless upgrades as standard.
Similarly with Microsoft Dynamics, migration from Microsoft AX to Dynamics 365 better serves both large and small businesses. It empowers companies to customise their solution so that it scales with the business, with built in Power BI (Business Intelligence) for enhanced reporting and customer insight. While a seemingly daunting, time-consuming process, system migration is crucial for businesses that utilise an on-premise product that is or will be out of development. The reality of such a transition is a seamless one, and actually an affordable investment for SMEs, especially considering the greater cost and risks of sticking with legacy software. Consequently, migration projects will be on the up over 2023.
- Finding ways to grow a business without it growing its team
From remote to hybrid to flexible working, a change in priorities over recent years has seen a growing number of prospective employees, regardless of the sector, align recruitment effort demands with technology. This, paired with the roadblocks surrounding recruitment of workers across multiple sectors, has led to its obvious challenges. In manufacturing for example, skills shortages existed in the UK before the pandemic had even begun, with growth and productivity now further jeopardised as a result. With an estimated 1.3 million non-UK workers also leaving the country during this time, a call for easing post-Brexit immigration rules, and investment in the training of domestic candidates, could help address such shortages in the short term.
In the meantime, cloud ERP – paired with the on-going drive to upskill existing staff members – can assist businesses in finding efficiencies via streamlined, automated processes to drive productivity. In turn, this allows a business to expand without the help of new staff on board. While businesses continue to prioritise their ‘recovery’ efforts into 2023, we see the utilisation of cloud ERP as playing a key role for this very reason.
- Optimisation projects on existing software set-ups to find efficiencies and cut costs
Cutting costs is currently high on leaders’ agendas. So, when it comes to finding efficiencies and making the most out of software investments, every little helps. Businesses are being savvier in wanting to better utilise existing software capabilities, starting smaller customisation projects to aid productivity, especially if they have been live on the system for more than a couple of years. By configuring solutions to better serve their needs today – from creating custom shipping carrier integration to integrating email communications into an ERP system – businesses can drive enhanced performance. The development of ‘built-for’ integrated add-ons – like SuiteApps in NetSuite – give businesses the tools to boost their solution in a way that is tailored to them, ultimately gaining more ROI. While defining those needs – and understanding how to meet them – can feel like a moving target, a review by an expert solution provider can make informed suggestions. We think more businesses will be moving these smaller types of optimisation projects forward next year, and first-time implementations are likely to be split into more phases than we have perhaps seen in the past.
- Customers want as few points of contact as possible
Time is precious, and with businesses seeking to work smarter (not harder), streamlining everyday communications plays a huge role. The customisation of existing solutions for example – whether through add-ons or connecting to external software via an integration platform like Jitterbit – can prove a complex, time-consuming process due to the multiple parties involved. This thought alone is not only a drain on resources, but enough to put some businesses off, and thus miss out on opportunities altogether. Businesses want to minimise touch points and hone their time more efficiently, so they are preferring to adopt the services of a consultancy specialist who can manage the full architecture; the central ERP system and all integrated, third-party solutions. We predict companies who want to significantly reduce the everyday back and forth with multiple providers will even switch their support services, empowering them to focus on what they do best.
- Securing partnerships for ERP implementation through earlier funding rounds
As ERP solutions continue to expand their offerings – and thus become more accessible – businesses are starting to understand the rewards of earlier adoption. Driving both profitability and growth, such systems are not only designed to scale with a business, but they also expedite expansion. Now no longer pegged as viable for large businesses exclusively, ERP systems are forming the foundations for more and more start-ups, especially those businesses who are ‘in a hurry’ to succeed and thrive or succeed and go on the market. With the tangible transformations taking place for ‘early adopters’ of ERP architecture – 70-90% of users reporting improved 360–degree business visibility and actionable insights as a result – those willing to invest earlier in the timeline will benefit the most. We are seeing that pre-seed funding and venture capital funding is being earmarked for all-encompassing business software much earlier in business roadmaps compared to just three years ago, and this approach will continue into 2023 and beyond.
Demand for the very best architect and development companies will continue to rise as increased numbers of projects are carried out; this means ERP customers will have to plan early if they want to secure their preferred service provider. It’s also certain that recruitment will become challenge for the software implementation industry as the activity surges, so investment in staff retention will be crucial. With these five types of projects on the rise, plus the continued requirements of first-time design and implementation projects, it’s clear that official solution partners are in for a busy year and, we think, an exciting ride.
Ian Robertson is the Sales and Marketing Director of BrightBridge, a UK-based technology consultancy offering Oracle NetSuite and Microsoft Dynamics 365 solutions. Ian has over 30 years of experience in ERP and CRM implementations. Prior to forming BrightBridge, Ian worked for a major US IT corporation, where he acquired a depth of knowledge around time saving efficiencies through technological integration and automation.
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