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Darren Atkins's picture

The Tao of ERP

How you think about ERP solutions can be just as, if not more, important than the software solutions themselves.

Yin / Yang - Tao of ERPFor example, no two people use a cell phone or drive a car in the same way. ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), while strictly utilized as business software, can yet be subject to the many vagaries of human behavior and utilization. This brings to mind the term metagame, a term that appears to cross the borders of mathematics, politics, chess and World of Warcraft III. It literally means “beyond the game” or philosophy, thought, and strategy that surround a game or activity. Software and computers in and of themselves do nothing without the user inputting or requesting information, so what the user does or thinks is paramount. Major changes in the rules of the game, regulations, functionality of the software or other outside factors can have a ripple effect on the meta, or how users or players strategize and think about their activity.

Just as software solutions have various ways in which they function and behave, so do the users. The challenge can be found in how these entities interact with each other in alignment with business goals and objectives. With nearly infinite variables in how people think, interact, and utilize software, there are no black and white answers or paved roads. You must sometimes clear your own path.

The metagame of ERP software or how one approaches how, and maybe more importantly why, the software will be used, how it provides value or competitive advantage, can vary as drastically as there are businesses on the planet. The interconnectivity between multiple moving parts can be found in even the simplest of business processes. Change any related factor, and the entire meta can change, resulting in success or failure. Big technology game-changers such as the Internet, mobility, and cloud have turned the entire meta upside down and inside out with regards to businesses evolving or going the way of the dinosaur.

In the “Tao,” or way of ERP, the apparency is that it all starts with a particular software solution. Solution is really what should follow as an end result of the equation around the business goals, what the users require to efficiently perform their work and business process. Sharp analysis and teamwork can bring all the various factors into focus and achieve agreement amongst stakeholders. You can then begin to relate appropriate solutions back to those business needs and requirements. Software solutions are only as useful as they can be utilized to satisfy those requirements, thus providing true business value. Simply purchasing and implementing software without thorough planning, feedback loops, and course corrections along the way can become an uncertain activity at best. It requires vision, a strong team, participation and collaboration. Performing the necessary strategic thought from beginning to end of your ERP projects can go miles to reducing risk and increasing chances for success along the way.

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