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Improving data flow with ERP consolidation

Multiple ERP systems can block data accessibility and kill productivity. Here's how an ERP integration project can help.

If too many cooks can spoil the broth, then too many software systems can certainly leave a bad taste in the mouths of enterprise users. Multiple software systems -- particularly ERP systems -- can slow the flow of data across the enterprise and make sharing that data with all the necessary parties a Herculean task.

Manufacturers often encounter this problem soon after an acquisition. If the new plants are running different ERP systems than the home office is, executives and salespeople end up scrambling to access that production data in anything resembling real time. They often end up settling for stale -- and perhaps irrelevant -- informa­tion. What’s the smarter solution? An ERP integration project consolidating these multiple systems into one.

ERP consolidation can offer new efficiencies and cost savings -- but only if software decisions are based on specific business needs. For example, process manufacturers will have different requirements than discrete manufacturers.

In addition, any project that involves moving around that much critical data must be han­dled carefully. Managers need to know which systems will work well together and which need to be scrapped, while remaining aware of compliance regulations and other information governance concerns. And, ideally, the goal of any ERP integration project will be savings: Less time spent collecting data and money not wasted on unnecessary software.

To make any ERP con­solidation project a success, companies need to have a detailed plan that considers business needs and prevents data integration snags down the road. There are at least four business dimensions that must be taken into account when consolidating ERP systems. Companies also need to learn how to com­bat some common challenges of ERP integra­tion. Finally, seamlessly integrating an ERP system with supply chain management software is an essential part of making ERP consolidation worthwhile. If companies take these elements into consideration, they'll be well on their way to improved productivity and cost savings.

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