Customer communities can provide a great way to extend ERP value. Vibrant communities provide a venue where users collaborate on everything from desired roadmap functions to best practices, processes, templates and tricks of the trade.
There is a major obstacle, however, that legacy ERP system users encounter in taking a practice, template, idea or tool from peers and implementing it in their own environment: version inconsistency. Many of you reading this have been part of user discussions or customer advisory boards for legacy ERP products and have heard comments like, “we could really use that in our environment but it looks like we’re on 5.9 and you’re on 8.1, so I don’t think it will work.” This leaves users feeling isolated, their company running on a different version than others, effectively left to wander alone in the wilderness having to find the right tools that work in their unique software environment.
These tools could be anything from newly available features to templates and processes. But with varying versions of a given ERP system available, there is not only a lot of work determining if some capability will work but quite a bit of resulting frustration once it becomes obvious that it won’t. And even if a capability is made to fit after considerable consultant money and time spent, it still may not survive the next upgrade intact and fully operational.
In contrast, modern cloud ERP systems offer the distinct advantage of version consistency, with the best solutions offering totally version-less ERP. Version-less means that all customers are running the same code all the time. This benefits customers within that community as there is no guesswork or investigation as to what version is required for a particular capability – if it works for customer A it will work for customer B.
A native cloud ERP solution, developed for manufacturers exclusively in and for the cloud, offers additional advantages in not having historical on-premise software baggage and diverting resources to support old versions. In effect, the cloud ERP user community becomes a built-in support and consulting group offering insights, practical support and even sharing libraries of user-created forms and templates.
Today’s manufacturers are lean and don’t have the time to spend any unnecessary cycles chasing solutions that don’t work. Consider the importance of the user community when thinking about your company’s software future. User communities, done right and with the right solution, greatly expand the value delivered by ERP solutions.
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