The Power Community-Driven Product Enhancement

Submitted by Plex Systems, Inc.

We’ve found that over the last decade or so, manufacturers traditionally implement ERP software solutions delivered by vendors through static versions. Vendors release ERP version upgrades over a period of time— often annually.

The manufacturer receives software disks and updated product documentation. Then, the manufacturer analyzes the new version to determine which processes have changed and how those changes will affect their current procedures. Teams must be formed in order to determine any necessary retraining, forcing the manufacturer into a time-consuming and costly project that becomes inflated beyond original expectation.

For the manufacturer, this cumbersome process makes it a challenge to keep up with the latest version of the software. Many companies fall behind on implementations and support, relying on outdated features and functions from potentially outdated product functionality.

With low incentives to keep current with upgrades, manufacturers bear the risk of the obsolescence of their software solution.

Running Behind

Researchers have found that over a third of small- to mid-sized manufacturers operate two or three releases behind the currently available version of their implemented ERP software system.

Leading manufacturers, however, are far more likely to be running on the latest version of the software. They are able to manage rapidly changing conditions and customer requirements with an ERP system that is flexible and can change with them.

Push Versus Pull

An equally complicating factor with traditional ERP development is that very often, vendors subscribe to a “push” model when enhancing their solutions. In essence, the vendor anticipates and builds features they assume will be desired by the market.

In many cases, product enhancements are based on features designed to win new business. In other words, a legacy vendor will push to the customer base what works better for the ERP vendor itself rather than what works better for the ERP user.

A New Approach

Today’s winning manufacturers have discovered a new approach. They implement IT systems from developers who do not guess what a user needs related to enterprise software features and functions.

In this new approach, the developer seeks out and puts emphasis on partnering with users who want to move the product and the services forward.

This “pull” delivery translates into less waiting time for features that are truly needed by users.

Rapid Application Development

This “community driven” product enhancement model signals the end to the static version upgrade process.

When a user requests a new feature that cannot be met with existing settings configuration, today’s leading vendor can deliver it in a fraction of the time due to Rapid Application Development capability. The vendor does not wait months to deliver product enhancements and performance improvements in a service pack, a feature pack, or a small release or major release.  Features are developed using an iterative process and deployed when they are ready.

The Power of Community

The change-on-demand capabilities allow companies to quickly realign their ERP and business processes, and to continuously embrace change without consuming costly IT resources.

With the “Living System” approach, product enhancements are community-driven, giving every user a constant stream of opt-in feature improvements accumulated from the real-world knowledge of the ERP user community.

For more information, visit Plex Online at www.plex.com

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