Written By: Ted Pibil, OpenGov

Originally posted March 13, 2018

Time for an upgrade

Few phrases cause heartburn faster than “ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system upgrade.” Yet most governments have recently completed, are currently undergoing, or will soon begin a major ERP project. There’s good reason – many ERPs are aging and can no longer support these organization’s growing needs.

Many governments are also implementing “cloud-first” policies. Modern cloud solutions can deliver flexibility and efficiency while reducing the burden on IT. Often, they help reduce technology costs, and unlike on-premise systems, never require upgrades.

In fact, implementing a modern budgeting and reporting solution that connects to your old ERP could postpone that big upgrade.

What comes first? A new ERP, or a modern budgeting and reporting system?

Navigating a project of this size without causing major service disruptions is a “tightrope” that requires careful planning. ERP upgrades can take years, and the data is fed into a whole host of other applications. So how should an IT leader decide what to implement first? A new ERP, or a new budgeting and reporting system?

Of course, the long-term goal is to integrate the two systems to deliver faster data processing, better financial management, and improved accountability and performance. However, the short-term goal is to minimize disruption, manage organizational change, and preserve historical data. Prioritizing a modern, cloud-based budgeting and reporting solution ahead of (or alongside) and ERP upgrade enables agencies to do all three.

Why the cloud compliments and improves your ERP migration project

ERP implementations are long and arduous projects. Very often, budgeting, planning, and reporting modules are not installed until the very end. That means it could be years or more before an organization benefits from the full capabilities of the new system. During this time, access to core reporting and planning tools may be limited, causing delayed decisions and internal strife.

SaaS deployments are measured in weeks, and don’t require IT resources that are focused on the big ERP project. Implementing them ahead of the ERP transition has three immediate benefits:

Preserves historical data: Provides a reporting system for legacy ERP data sets, and bridges the old system and the new for operational continuity and historical data preservation (learn more here).
Provides immediate value to the whole organization: Applications that are delivered as Software-as-a-Service are decentralized. Since they often connect to data across the entire organization, they provides value to every department, not just finance and budget.
Eases accounting data migration: Chart of accounts crosswalks and cleanups can be one of the most difficult aspects of an ERP transition. Modern reporting platforms can ease the pain and actually help the implementation of the new ERP go more smoothly.

Is that new ERP still necessary?

Agencies considering ERP upgrades should use this opportunity to improve core financial processes. They should also aim to reduce disruption to financial and management reporting. Upgrading budgeting and reporting systems before completing the ERP implementation can help minimize disruption and even drive the design of the underlying ERP. And in some cases, it can reduce the immediate need for the upgrade, extending the life of an existing system with modern, cloud technology.