Saturday, April 30, 2005

ERP: A thought!

This is way out of my league since I have never worked with a single ERP product except to integrate with IDM solutions but the similarity was hard to miss. This came out of a brief discussion I had with my collegue where he was very adamant that ERP implementation is about sitting down and rebuilding the company's process around the product that was bought instead of the ERP fitting into the process that is already present. This to me is the same case of the IDM implementation where the Vendors/Implementation engineer want the companies to change their process to fit the product that they have purchased rather than viseversa. Even though I can understand that as a part of any IDM or ERP implementation the business process can be reviewed to make them more efficient but that does not mean that implementation has to mimic the product design because products were not built to support the requirements.
Besides that I think another issue with ERP was the non-existance of the service infrastructure that modern IT departments are building now. At the time ERP was being implemented, the product had to implement all the services like Identity, Acess Control, Audit, Transaction, workflow,and so on as part of their system. But now with the move towards more abstract service definition for things like Identity, Access Control, Workflow, the ERP systems can be lean mean systems that integrate with the existing infrasture instead of being a monolithic application that require so many consultants to get right the first time (because each of the ERP system is not an expert in developing all the capabilities into their product they end up implementing the feature the way they thing is the right way).
Assuming this is correct premise, the ERP implementations happened before their time. In case the companies continue on their part to built more abstract services, in the next decade the ERP systems may become very thin orchestration engine that tie all these services together. In order to stay relevant in that scenarios, these systems may have to become more audit and compliance driven that use BI technology (and input from human) to fine tune the orchestration without breaking any laws and trying to achieve the mission for its users.

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