Can specialist ISV solutions solve unique business challenges faced today?
Spurs in consumer demand, rising globalization and the dependence on fragile global supply chains are changing the manufacturing landscape as we know it. While navigating these challenges, businesses are expected to produce higher return of capital than their competitors or face the risk of redundancy. To remain competitive, there is a requirement for more specialist ISV solutions to provide an edge against the competition.
This is where the industry experiences an information overload. Calls for digital transformation, a bombardment of messages around Industry 4.0 and the benefits of next generation technologies. Each vendor offering similar value propositions, functionality and benefits and technical jargon is the name of the game. As a result, there is trepidation around the right solution for their unique business needs.
In a world where the only constant is change, manufacturing and distribution businesses now need three essential ingredients (including specialist ISV solutions) to set sail on the right path:
- The reliability of a core ERP system that provides centralized and real-time data insights
- The ability to integrate last-mile specialist ISV solutions into your ERP system to address unique business needs
- Trusted advisors who understands your business and can talk to you on best practice to use these array of systems
If you are about to embark on the journey towards finding a new ERP vendor, here are some considerations and guidelines centered on those three factors.
1. Choose a core ERP solution with specialist capabilities
A fully-integrated ERP solution enables manufacturers to tackle the immense challenges they face by optimizing their business operations, meeting and satisfying customer demands, and increasing factory output without having to add additional headcount to meet these goals.
Gone are the days where an ERP solution is simply a ‘system of record’. When selecting an ERP system, it is important that you select a platform with the unlimited flexibility to pull data into the solution and use it strategically. As a result, decisions can be made in real-time.
2. Have the option to incorporate third-party ISV solutions
To address unique industry or business challenges and offer last mile specialization, a good ERP system will have the option to integrate with third party ISV or SI solutions. For example, your business may require a specific solution to enable statistical process control. You can then identify an ISV with that capability and plug that solution into your core ERP solution. No need for disparate systems!
Here is a breakdown of those third-party solutions:
ISV (Independent software vendor) – These partners develop their own software and then integrate that software into your ERP system. Because they focus on a primary last-mile product, they are specialists in their area of expertise. They deliver solutions that are specific to an industry (e.g., fabricated metal), a function (e.g., quality reporting), or a technological need (e.g., networking for IoT devices). All ERP vendors have ISVs who can help businesses address operational issues without the business needing to separately develop or evaluate and integrate other third-party applications.
SI (Systems Integrator) – A SI specializes in bringing together component subsystems and ensuring these subsystems function together as they integrate into your ERP system. They are technically competent.
A rich ecosystem of complementary SI and ISV solutions provides added value to businesses that use an ERP application by letting them choose those solutions that enhance the functionality of their ERP system. An ISV solution can meet needs more effectively, rather than the company undertaking heavy customizations of their ERP system or develop the required solution.
Any number of ISVs combined will provide functionality but not necessarily the integration. This is why it is vital to invest in a core ERP system that acts as a platform and allows easy integration of the ISV solutions.
Your ERP should also be built with API capabilities
API (Application Programme Interface) – This is the connector or integration point between external systems and your ERP solution. Your ERP system is built with a e.Net layer or business objects to ensure these integrations are a possibility.
3. Partner with a trusted advisor
Back to my original point about the bombardment of messages about new and ‘improved’ emerging technologies. The key to success is to identify solutions that will address your unique business pain points – not incorporate a blanket solution deployed by most companies.
According to a recent SYSPRO survey entitled Realigning the links of the disconnected supply chain, 71% of businesses engaged with outsourced external service providers with no real understanding of core business challenges or everyday reality of what was affecting the business. As a result, digital strategies have not aligned to execution.
To cut through the noise and select the right solutions, it is vital to work with trusted advisors and industry experts who understand your industry, and your business. With that deep insight, your core ERP solution and ISV applications, companies can build a business environment to match their business model and maintain that competitive edge despite ongoing disruptions.
Again, the business needs to analyze itself and the industry, prepare a Digital Strategy to meet and resolve the issues it faces and execute on that strategy. The ISV route allows the business to quickly add capabilities to the ERP suite and address the critical issues