The second broadcast in our monthly online talk show Ctalk is about next-generation ERP, the new generation of ERP systems. Host Fabienne de Vries met with experts from SAP Netherlands, Oliver IT and the football club PSV Eindhoven. Together, they discussed why next-gen ERP is essential for future-proofing.

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PSV Eindhoven may be a football club, but it is also a company. And, in fact, it is no different from other companies. Like elsewhere, IT plays an essential role at the club, explains Roy Smits, ICT manager at PSV. “It’s common knowledge that we use technology to track the performance, form and health of our players. But ticket sales, maintaining partner relationships and our day-to-day operations also rely on IT. The core of our IT landscape is the ERP system, where everything comes together.” 

What is next-gen ERP? 
“Traditionally, your ERP system was the centre point of everything,” explains Gerben Moerland, partner at Oliver IT. “But this is now changing thanks to current IT developments. Users have become more mobile, because they increasingly work using smartphones and tablets, which completely changes the user experience. In addition, we are increasingly turning to cloud-based features.” 

These developments impact the way we set up ERP, states Moerland. “Core processes that do not change very often will remain in your ERP. A company’s financial process is a good example. But for processes that evolve, like an app, you want to have these in a flexible shell around your ERP. This means your core processes continue to reflect the standard, thereby allowing you to improve them more easily, which makes you more agile. Next-gen ERP makes this possible.”

Next-gen ERP changes the role of users 
Leon de Groot, solution expert at SAP Netherlands, explains: “Through these developments, ERP is changing from an administrative system where you record your business operations to a system that actively helps you to make better choices, streamline your processes and differentiate yourself in the marketplace. In future, the system will manage us rather than the other way around.” 

Smits: “Until now, as an end customer you purchased an ERP system and hired consultants to set up the system to match the needs of your organisation. With next-generation ERP, you can make rapid progress on an agile basis. You employ people yourself to do this. This means you can quickly start working with new features and respond to new developments more effectively.” 

That also places demands on the software developer, points out De Groot. “At SAP, our job is to enable you to connect applications in your flexible layer to the standard core processes in your ERP.”

Think in terms of the future 
According to Smits, not everyone sees an urgent need for next-gen ERP – even though they should. “Although our current systems are good enough for what we do now, I need to think about where PSV will be in ten years’ time. For example, a season ticket is a strong product right now, but what if the next generation don’t want to commit for a season, but would rather decide on whether to go to a match the day before? This absence of commitment has implications for the way we sell tickets and do our marketing. This places demands on the IT infrastructure.” 

“It’s important to make sure now that your IT will soon be flexible enough to respond to trends like this,” emphasises De Groot. “This way of thinking also helps to justify your investment in next-gen ERP. In other words, the starting point is: the stadium needs to be full. That represents income. And to earn that revenue, you need to keep your IT up to date.” 

Tips for change management 
The panel guests all agreed on the best path toward net-gen ERP: plenty of consultation with colleagues and advisers. De Groot: “Analyse your current processes and locate the pain points. Metrics programmes are available to measure this. If they show that your purchase orders are amended ten times on average, you should ask yourself whether there is a more efficient way to go about it. Set your priorities based on the results and improve step by step, not all at once.” This is in line with the philosophy of Oliver IT, where Moerland works: “Your processes are the basis for digitalisation, not the other way around.”

Analysing which points in your processes need to be improved comes with another benefit, states Smits. “Metrics programmes help to show you why change is needed. People often resist change simply because they are used to their current way of working. This is why you should let your most important users join in and help make decisions when you redefine your processes.”