I was reminded last week that Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) isn’t just about the technical side of things. One of the things I’ve struggled with for years when dealing with infrastructure experts (technicians) is the limited scope of their knowledge. Yes, it’s technically correct to keep all the software up-to-date in order to prevent virus infections, etc. However, when your shipping software or ERP software hasn’t been updated to support the latest version of Windows, it’s critical that you not do the update.
In order to adequately implement ERP, and to support it the following skills are useful if not absolutely necessary:
- A general understanding of infrastructure including operating systems, security, networking, cloud computing, etc.
- A thorough understanding of the business function you are trying to automate. This is perhaps the most important requirement; more often than not, a company that has trouble with ERP implementation is having trouble because someone doesn’t know enough about the business function. Sometimes it’s the employee; sometimes it’s the implementer. This is an area in which many infrastructure consultants failed to develop expertise.
- An understanding of how software works. This doesn’t mean being a software developer or programmer (although that’s helpful). It means having an understanding of how data is stored in files, how computers think in rules and formulas, and how data stored in one place influences the result in another place.
- An appreciation of the complex relationships between various pieces of software, and an understanding of how to troubleshoot problems of this type.
- An understanding of the term “vendor supported” as it relates to software. Specifically, a piece of software may work on Windows 8.1, but the software vendor may choose not to support it. This means that if you have a problem, you’re on your own. From experience, software support companies know that any issues that arise in the future will be blamed on the fact that “unsupported” software is being used.
Businesses should be careful that they don’t expect their IT staff to understand and support every piece of software which they may use. While I may be completely confident in ERP software, I’m not the person you need to talk to about AutoCAD (computer aided design software).
Be careful most of all of the person that does not know and does not know that he does not know.