What are ERP Upgrades? What You Need To Know

Last Updated: September 12th, 2023
Researched and Written by: Russ Davidson

The best ERP systems will drive many organizations’ operations and decision-making processes. But with time, just like any other software, these tools can become archaic or lose alignment with an organization’s dynamic requirements. This is where upgrading your ERP comes into play.

What is an ERP Upgrade?

An ERP upgrade is a process of enhancing your current ERP system to a newer version or even a completely different system altogether. This is often done to leverage the latest functionalities, address outdated elements, or realign the system with contemporary business goals and challenges.

Why Upgrade an ERP System?

Upgrading an ERP system offers several compelling reasons:

  1. Staying Contemporary: An old ERP system might not be compatible with new business processes or may lack real-time data visibility essential for current business demands.
  2. Avoiding Maintenance Hassles: Older systems tend to become unstable and often have complicated customizations, which are cumbersome and costly to maintain.
  3. Harnessing New Capabilities: Modern ERP versions offer features like real-time dashboards, AI-driven tools, and enhanced support for mobile devices and e-commerce.

Advantages of an ERP Upgrade

  • Operational Efficiency: Upgrades bring in optimized processes that help reduce operational redundancies and inefficiencies.
  • Enhanced Decision-Making: With newer analytics and AI-driven functionalities, decision-making becomes more data-driven and insightful.
  • Security Enhancements: Newer ERP versions often come with upgraded security patches and features to combat evolving cyber threats.
  • User Experience: Modern designs focus on user-centric approaches, making the system more intuitive and easier to use.

Deciding the Right Time for an Upgrade

Most businesses look to rejuvenate their ERP systems roughly every 5-10 years, although specific business contexts and industry shifts can influence this.

Upgrade or Replace Your ERP?

While upgrades might be less intrusive and maintain familiar interfaces, a full replacement can provide a complete suite of advanced functionalities and potential efficiencies.

An upgrade is often less disruptive, potentially retaining integrations and customizations. The user experience may also stay relatively similar, minimizing change management challenges. Conversely, replacing an ERP system might open doors to advanced features and process efficiencies, especially if significant technological advancements have occurred since the last system purchase.

Read more: Deciding When to Replace or Upgrade Your ERP Software

Benefits of Cloud Deployment

Cloud ERP software is often used by companies with multiple locations which want to maintain real-time communication. In recent years, they have gained additional popularity for allowing remote users full access from anywhere.

Cloud-based software has exploded in popularity over the last few years. Some examples of pros and cons include:

Aspect Cloud ERP Pros Cloud ERP Cons
Accessibility Allows employees to access services from anywhere, at any time. If there is an internet connection, there are no limitations to where work can be done. Requires connection to the internet or a server
Costs Cloud-hosted ERP vendors charge on a subscription basis, meaning you only pay for what you want when you use it. Cloud ERP solutions operating costs can add up over time. 10 years of service can eventually cost as much or more than a one-time perpetual license fee for an on-premise ERP, especially if any add-ons are necessary for desired functionality.
Customization While many cloud-based solutions are shrinkwrap, add-on modules add more ideal functionality. As discussed above, add-on modules with additional features can add to total costs.
Security Security can be monitored remotely While cloud-based systems are highly secure, they are more vulnerable when it comes to human error. And data security depends on the vendor - if they are threatened your data is threatened.
Support Support can be offered remotely Updates and improvements can lead to downtime, though SaaS providers will usually send out warnings to their customers with estimates for when the system will be working again.

Prepping for the Upgrade

Efficient planning is pivotal. A good first step is starting with a cross-departmental team to ascertain the necessity of an upgrade. Following that, a rigorous business case should be laid out, defining key requirements and vetting potential ERP vendors with a proven track record. The final step involves meticulous implementation planning, encompassing data integration, transitions of any legacy customizations, and intensive user training.

The journey of ERP upgrades is essential for maintaining a competitive edge in this ever-evolving business landscape. Though it might appear intimidating initially, the boons regarding operational excellence, real-time business insights, and refined processes are invaluable. An ERP upgrade can revolutionize your business dynamics with judicious planning and decision-making.

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