ERP, Technology, and the Danger of Knowing Too Little

There is a new phenomenon I’m experiencing lately: the danger of knowing too little about ERP and technology. I don’t mean the danger of Photo of a person at a desk with head in hands.knowing too little, I mean the danger of businesses knowing too little. Or perhaps individuals in those businesses knowing too little. Or perhaps IT advisors knowing too little.

Here’s what I mean: it’s not enough any more to know the technology. There was a time when our clients were amazed if we could just get things to work (that was a long time ago). Now we need to know much more. Not only do we need to know technical details to make things work, we need to know business processes. It’s more likely today that an IT specialist can make things work; it’s not likely that a business can take advantage of everything that is in the software.

Let’s take a simple example: inventory levels. Simply, that’s how much inventory to order, when to reorder, and how much should be on the shelf at any given time. It also involves deciding which products should in fact be in inventory, and which should be special ordered. Many businesses still use some version of average sales to get to this number. I can tell when I ask, “How do you decide what to order?” If I get the answer, “We have this report that lists the sales for the last 12 months,” I know we’re using average sales at some level.

The fact is that this isn’t the state of the art in inventory management. It’s not about state of the art software. It’s about knowing what is possible (from a business standpoint) and selecting a tool that can produce it.

The problem is that many businesses hand off the (entire) selection of the business software to the IT folk. Many IT folk know too little. But they’d never admit it. So we see ERP systems that half work, and don’t produce the ROI they were designed to produce. Oh, they work from a technical standpoint. It’s the business standpoint where they fail miserably.

The danger of knowing too little.