“An ERP must be customizable without involving an army of consultants”

Integrated management software, or ERP, is the backbone of companies. Sébastien Weill, Product and R&D Director of Forterro, editor of an ERP for industry, defends in this forum the idea of ​​a management software package integrating the functionalities necessary for the majority of customers, in a Saas platform, configurable without having to call on armies of consultants.

At a time when the re-industrialization of France is becoming a priority, manufacturers are facing increasingly significant challenges in a period of high tension on supply chains. They must respond to post-pandemic recovery and face geopolitical uncertainties.

In this context, how will ERP software, Enterprise Resource Planning or integrated management software package, the main building block of the information system of our industries, have to evolve over the next few years?

All integrated or ‘Best of breed’

First of all, should we opt for an “all-in-one” ERP or a ‘Best of breed’ solution, ie assembling various software components from independent suppliers? This is a fundamental question for the future of ERPs. There is no one answer that fits all businesses. Several criteria are decisive in the choice of an ERP solution when faced with a business problem. Having a maximum of “integrated” functionalities in the same software facilitates the management and development of the information system. At the same time, for certain very specific needs, opting for expert solutions in the field, ‘Best of breed’, can prove to be a valuable advantage.

ERPs must integrate functionalities to meet the majority of customers

ERPs must cover a broad functional spectrum including purchasing, sales, inventory, production management, quality, finance, etc., but they cannot be experts in all areas. They remain the backbone of the information system and facilitate the evolution of the whole of the latter. This is why ERPs must integrate the functionalities making it possible to respond to the majority of customers in order to avoid ending up with an application layer cake which would be very complicated to develop.

It is also essential that these ERPs are open in order to allow communication with expert systems when necessary. These exchanges will have to be increasingly standardized and effective in real time. The use of web services through APIs will replace traditional interfacing methods between systems. In addition to security and the exchange of information on demand, this will facilitate evolution.

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The ERP of tomorrow will be SaaS

We are moving more and more into a world where property is replaced by the service rendered. This notion, common in personal life whether it is to have a car or a telephone, is becoming more democratic in the professional world. Everything evolves so quickly that the manufacturer must have a scalable, up-to-date system that meets the latest technological requirements. SaaS allows this.

SaaS meets the challenges of flexibility and telework

Companies must be flexible on working conditions, with in particular the democratization of teleworking, and flexible on the IT resources they need. SaaS responds perfectly to these challenges by allowing easy adjustment of the necessary IT resources in addition to connection flexibility.

Finally, a major challenge for companies is to succeed in combining openness and security. Information systems need to be more and more open and communicative, without neglecting security. As a reminder, cybercrime has become the 3th Mondial economy. Here again, SaaS responds to this problem, because openness and communication are facilitated while ensuring an optimum level of security. Cloud players are now able to implement reinforced security means, inaccessible to SMEs in the industry on their own.

An agile ERP at the service of users

The average retention period for an ERP in France is between 10 and 15 years. However, it is illusory to think that business processes do not change over such a long period of time. Our companies and more particularly our industries must be reactive and agile, the same goes for their information system and more particularly their ERP.

The company must be able to configure the ERP without having to involve an army of consultants

The ERP of tomorrow will be easily configurable. The company will have to be able to configure and personalize it in complete autonomy without being obliged to systematically involve an army of consultants. Agility will also translate into the means of accessing it. The time when accessing and retrieving information was done through a computer is over. Phone, tablet, connected objects are as important as PCs and must have access to ERP.

In conclusion, and this is undoubtedly the major element, the ERP must be at the service of users. We are entering a time when industrial companies need to attract the right candidates and retain their employees. It is essential that they have an efficient and effective information system. Here again, the configuration and flexibility of the system will be key to adapting to the needs and use of all employees, as well as the user interface, which will have to look like 21st century software.

Sébastien Weill, 10 years of experience in the French ERP market

Sébastien Weill has been Forterro’s Francophone Product Development and Research Director since 2018. He has 10 years of experience in the French ERP market. Since becoming Director of R&D, Sébastien Weill has implemented the Scrum methodology for Forterro’s French and Swiss products. Sébastien Weill also played a key role in the transition of certain products to the Cloud, evolving the product architecture to a Cloud architecture on AWS in 2019. He also contributed significantly to the establishment and management Forterro nearshore development centers in Morocco.Sébastien Weill graduated in 2010 from the University of Arts et Métiers ParisTECH.

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“An ERP must be customizable without involving an army of consultants”

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