Why ERPs will never be able to solve your product service team automation challenges

Only two real constants exist in life: taxes and ERPs, both living hells to configure and manage. In fact, for every product service team member I speak to, taxes still seem to come in slightly higher than ERPs on the want and desired list.

So, why is it that ERPs and other big corporate systems are now viewed as such a burden to business units? After all, though massive in scale, the business processes they manage are still necessary and, in most if not all cases, enable enterprise manufacturers to do what they need to do to be successful—at least marginally.

The answer is simple: sprawl. ERPs were first introduced to manage what its acronym translates to: Enterprise Resource Planning. They were purpose built to consolidate a company’s database for use with any number of digitally oriented business functions. And with that mantra, the ERP began to grow further and deeper than many thought possible, connecting to systems companywide.

However, as systems and the digital age have grown, ERP has reached many of its limits. Now, this isn’t to say that ERPs are obsolete—far from it. In fact, they are the life blood of manufacturers to this day and will remain so for decades to come. The issue with sprawl pertains to the disparate processes that ERPs were never meant to address: business team automation of various kinds and the workflows that affect those who work in outlying teams, other than finance.

The outcome? A promise from the big ERP companies to add so-called modules that will rectify the situation for business teams to meet their desired goals. But here’s the real issue: what do ERP companies know about business team automation? In this particular case, Product Service Team Automation. And the answer is, not much.

So, what’s an ERP company to do? Of course, it can send in consultants. The folks in suits who bill by the hour, day, month, or year, in the hopes of scoping out the challenge and rectifying it as a point solution within the bigger system. Then, of course, there are the developers: teams of programmers who change roles like many change their socks, never actually seeing a development project through to the end. They just pass the proverbial buck to the next set of developers to pick up the next phase of the project.

The outcome is usually dismal: project creep becomes a central theme with direction becoming skewed and misaligned and, in the end, a company left with a big invoice and little to show for its efforts. And though I don’t mean to be negative, the issue remains: having a third party solve an issue it knows nothing about will result in little but headaches and wasted time.

I’ve seen this situation far too many times; in fact, too many to count. So, what’s the solution? Go to the experts. I’ve always said, I love my mechanic, but I wouldn’t let him fix my eyes. Instead, I rely on the best eye doctor I can find. It’s the same situation with Service Team Automation. Instead of spending countless months and quarters working to build a solution, acquire one from a company that does just that—delivers a platform that requires little more than configuration to match one’s exact needs then go on about the business at hand. Pick a solution that empowers you, not handcuffs you.

And, as stated, this isn’t me writing hurtful things about the ERP industry. On the contrary, I have a great deal of respect for those companies that create the world’s leading ERP systems. I merely suggest that taking a more pragmatic approach to solving Service Team Automation will benefit everyone from the service team, to customer support, to finance, straight through to the end customer, and beyond.

To put it bluntly, let the domain experts handle it.