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What is a Future-Proof ERP System?

Businesses plan for the future, but the future rarely looks like what was expected. Adjusting as plans change requires nimbleness and business agility. But it also requires backend ERP technology that can evolve with the business. 

There are many reasons why businesses must change over time. New technologies such as smartphones and artificial intelligence emerge that alter the world. Market trends shift, such as online shopping, a rise in custom manufacturing, and the emergence of social media influencers. Geopolitics change the logic of business, whether it is nearshoring and tariffs or wars and pandemics. New business opportunities emerge such as direct-to-consumer sales, while other parts of business decline such as retail store sales.

Sometimes plans shift just because a competitor shakes up an industry like Apple did to the mobile phone industry or Airbnb did to the rental property market. Things change.

Why Businesses Need a Future-Proof ERP Solution

A business leans on its enterprise resource planning solution (ERP) for operations and all or most functions in the organization. By definition, ERP is the end-to-end software that powers a business. So if a business evolves, its ERP solution must also evolve.

But can a firm’s ERP solution evolve even when the future is unknown and unknowable?

The problem is that businesses cannot easily pivot away from an ERP solution when business dynamics require it. ERP is complex software that ties into the very foundations of an organization’s business processes and requires time and energy to implement. So switching a company’s backend ERP solution is neither easy nor fast. While businesses can and do change ERP solutions over time, the rate of change is measured in years and decades. A chosen ERP solution will be with a business for years to come.

So having a solid ERP solution that is future-proof is critically important. Businesses need a flexible system that can grow and evolve just like the business itself.

Future-Proof with SAP

With the pace of change showing no signs of slowing, market leader SAP has spent the past 10 years completely reimagining its approach to ERP and rewriting its solutions for adaptability and evolution. What’s emerged is the Business ByDesign ERP solution for smaller businesses, the S/4HANA Cloud Public Edition ERP for larger firms, and the SAP Business Technology Platform for plug-ins and integrations. This reimagined ERP ecosystem flexes with new business processes, adjusts to new technologies, and connects with just about anything available today or made in the future. SAP has gone all-in on future-proofing its ERP solutions.

This future-proofing is accomplished in several ways.

First, it starts with a lightweight, clean core. Both SAP Business ByDesign and S/4HANA Cloud Public Edition separate the foundation of the ERP system from most of the functionality that a business uses. Instead of rolling all possible functionality into the core, creating a bloated software package that can’t easily evolve, SAP takes the approach of an easy to update clean core that is light and able to hook into modules and third-party solutions that bring most of the functionality a business relies on. SAP doesn’t decide what a business needs, the business itself decides.

Modular functionality is the second key for future-proofing the solution. When functionality lives outside of the core as modules that can be added or removed, ERP flexibility and nimbleness increases. New functionality is added through modules that can be easily developed as technology evolves, and organizations can add or take away modules in their ERP as business needs change. One ERP solution, endless configuration and functionality options.

The third way that SAP future-proofs both SAP Business ByDesign and S/4HANA Cloud Public Edition ERP solutions is through the Business Technology Platform (BTP).

The BTP is an online marketplace where businesses can easily add SAP and third-party functionality modules to their ERP system as the organization grows and its needs change. This allows a company’s ERP solution to expand, change and even pick up functionality that SAP did not anticipate.

The BTP also helps businesses develop and hook custom code into the ERP solution with a drag-and-drop visual editor, enabling businesses to customize their ERP solution without the typical complexity and maintenance headaches that ERP customization required when custom code was more directly tied to the ERP core.

Further, the BTP enables the easy creation and management of integrations with third-party solutions and cloud services, so businesses can quickly connect their ERP solution to other systems and platforms that have been developed or will be developed in the future. With SAP’s new methodology, everything can connect with a company’s ERP solution relatively easily.

The final way that SAP has made its ERP solutions future-proof is the migration path. Moving from the smaller Business ByDesign ERP to the larger S/4HANA Cloud is accomplished by upgrading to the larger cloud solution with the more advanced core. This adds robustness and the option for additional, more advanced functionality modules. But businesses also can keep using the existing modules that are critical for the company’s business processes, making a clean and relatively easy migration path as a company grows. Gone are the days of implementing an entirely new system and migrating from one large software solution to another.

All of this adds up to an ERP solution that an organization can rely on both now and as the world evolves. Business ByDesign and S/4HANA Cloud Public Edition are future-proof ERP solutions.

To learn more about the BTP or SAP’s range of future-proof ERP solutions, call one of our experienced ERP consultants at (801) 642-0123 or by writing us at info@nbs-us.com 


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