While ERP has been around for decades, there has been a real revolution for this type of software in recent years thanks to modern technology. At this point, options like mobile technology and the cloud can be used to make ERP easier to manage overall, and many manufacturers may be considering a move toward updating their existing programs. However, some experts worry that companies may not know when or how to most successfully seize on this type of opportunity.

Today, the vast majority of manufacturers' IT budgets are being put toward existing operations, which makes it difficult for them to find the wiggle room needed to invest in the latest ERP options, according to a report from Information Age. One of the biggest issues in this regard is the fact that, over a period of years or more, companies put a lot of effort into developing customized code for their own operations so that they could get the most specialized data. And while that might have been a good idea at the time, industry data suggests that nearly two-thirds of all ERP software-related problems come from this level of customization.

What's available now?
The good news, though, is that there are now more options than ever for safely – and easily – customizing new ERP programs to each manufacturer's specifications, the report said. In some cases, investing in certain types of ongoing support can free up as much as 90 percent of the previous maintenance costs associated with legacy systems, especially when they incorporate technologies that help cultivate data across multiple platforms (desktop, mobile, etc.) to get a better overall look at their ongoing processes.

The sooner companies can examine their current situations and make determinations about the ways in which they can move forward on these issues, the better off they will be in terms of hitting the ground running, the report said. New ERP adoption takes time to ramp up to full efficiency, as data is collected and assessed, so starting the process as soon as possible will pay off in the long run.

Making old and new work together
A problem many companies face, and which may hold back earlier adoption in this regard, is that it's not always easy to integrate years or more of existing data into new systems, according to CIO Review. Fortunately, more is being done by ERP software providers to make this migration process go more smoothly, assuaging previous fears about taking that first bold step.

It is, however, vital for decision-makers to consider the potential hazards they face when it comes to making this step, and how they can overcome those pitfalls. Examining all available options will likely go a long way toward helping them make the best possible decisions as they move their ERP systems into the future.

Learn how to define your ERP strategy by downloading the white paper entitled "ERP in Manufacturing: Defining the ERP Strategy" from the Insight Works website.