The software industry loves TLAs (three-letter acronyms) so we are liable to talk about certain partners as ISVs (independent software vendors). An ISV makes software that is compatible with the ERP system you use. They deliver solutions that provide additional functionality to enhance the ERP system. These solutions may be related to a specific industry (e.g., bakeries), function (e.g., quality reporting), or technological need (e.g., networking for IoT devices). All ERP vendors have ISVs and you should review that the ERP application supports a growing list of ISVs who can help you operate and expand your business without needing to change your ERP system.
The world is moving so quickly that it can be difficult for businesses to stay current on all the technologies and information needed to maintain a successful operation. In some areas of software, mainly relating to specific industries or technologies, providers who focus specifically on those areas are able to provide solutions as new developments occur. ISVs tend to have specialized skills and knowledge in their subject area, but they don’t cover the general requirements that enterprises need from business software. These software companies are able to target such niche functional areas that the opportunity is best offered by only a few providers.
Typically, ERP vendors offer the broader applications companies need, while ISVs fill gaps in narrow areas of need. Therefore, the combination of products and services from ERP software and ISVs delivers better results than if the individual ERP companies tried to do everything themselves. Customers derive value from the ERP vendor’s ISV alliances by having the convenience of a full-service one-stop-shop.
Why don’t we build the software ourselves?
There’s often a question about build versus buy: whether a company should design and develop its own specific solution, or buy a ready-made application from someone else. Here’s why the build option isn’t recommended:
- Cost and time. The amount of time required to design and code the solution would be high, especially if you don’t have the deep technical skills. The final cost and the ongoing maintenance would put a high price on the built solution. ISVs have spent time building well-developed solutions that offer substantially more functionality than you could reasonably deliver by coding your own.
- Expertise is critical. A company that focuses on the building say an e-commerce application, is going to have a better understanding and will do a better job providing a solution for that particular need than you could. To achieve its business goals, a company should seek out the right ISVs with the right solutions and expertise to take their systems to the next level.
ISVs for ERP
Think of your ERP system as a platform for your business. It serves as the foundation for all your business’s financial, inventory, production, customer services, supply chain, and reporting needs. But with ISV solutions it also gives you the option to go deeper or do things that you did not originally envisage. The ERP application acts as the center of an ecosystem that allows organizations to meet their different needs. Platforms are becoming the preferred foundation for many digital transformation projects.
ISVs offer the ERP ecosystem a wide range of specialized extensions and add-on functionality, to enhance the capabilities of the ERP application with solutions for industry-specific requirements or to manage niche operational challenges.
ISVs rely on easily connecting or integrating, their software with your ERP solution. Therefore, you need to be certain that your ERP software has a published integration capability, a framework for connecting which anyone can find so that ISVs can effectively ‘plugin and go’. Approved ISV partners will have done the integration to the ERP already so there will be no need for additional integration work for a standard business process. If your ERP has an open integration standard, new ISVs will find it much easier and quicker to integrate their solution.
What types of ISV solutions are there?
Common categories of ISV solutions are:
- Business intelligence and analytics
- Specific solutions areas for process or discrete manufacturing
- Warehousing and distribution
- Tax compliance
- Payment solutions
- Quality control and monitoring
Then there are the technology solutions for companies that are exploring new technological avenues, such as:
- Robotic process automation
- Internet of Things
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning
- Machine-to-ERP interfaces
- Augmented reality
Are ISVs helpful?
The specific goals you want for your system are going to be the major deciding factor whether you need an ISV or not. Some businesses don’t need any additional functionality, others may need several ISV solutions, and others may only realize they need ISVs later.
What are the key benefits of using an ISV solution with your ERP?
- They will have the relevant specific deep business and technical knowledge you will need to get going quickly.
- They have the experience and knowledge to match business requirements with features and functionality while maintaining the necessary standards.
- They can help you build a business environment that exactly matches your business model. Providing a way to configure your applications to work together with your ERP applications.
- ISV applications that are industry-specific can transform your ERP software into an overall solution that feels purpose-built for your industry’s unique technology needs.
- ISV applications are also available for specific departments within your business.
- ISVs can aid businesses in preparing for the digital economy. Speeding up your digital transformation initiatives.
Looking at solutions from ISVs can enhance your systems by making them more useful and effective, manage operational and digital challenges, improve the value that business partners and customers see in your software infrastructure, and seize opportunities as your business grows or changes.