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The Top 10 Ways ERP Software is Like Thanksgiving Dinner

Published on by Adam Bluemner

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Really? The top 10 ways an ERP project is like Thanksgiving Dinner?

Thinking ERP and Thanksgiving might be more apples and oranges than long lost brothers?

Well, guess again! After reading this list, you’ll wonder how you ever told ERP projects and Thanksgiving Dinner apart!

Alright, alright. Maybe not. But the truth is that there really are some interesting similarities between the feast of all feasts and the largest of enterprise software suites. So given that Turkey Day is tomorrow and there’s no time like just before the start of a new calendar year for an ERP project, let’s have some fun and check out what the two have in common.

Corny similarities between ERP software and Thanksgiving

1. There are more choices than ever before.

The original 1621 feast included turkey, venison, seafood, berries, pumpkin, and squash. No cranberries, potatoes, and stuffing? Nope! When ERP was born out of the manufacturing sector, it was also missing some of the core components we now associate with it. Today, you’ll find a cornucopia of enterprise applications available on the ERP menu—including later additions like project management, customer relationship management, and human resources modules. Not only that, but there are hundreds of different commercial products on the market catering to all different types of companies.

2. It brings everyone together.

Your family might live in different cities, root for different sports teams, or even vote for different candidates. But Thanksgiving pulls everyone back together. ERP software serves the same purpose. Your business development team, for example, might not always see eye-to-eye with accounting. But once they’re sharing an application database and a common system for exchanging info, it’s the next best thing after a good bottle of red to at least keep the conversation flowing.

3. It takes time to get it ready.

No matter how hard you try, you can’t cook a 20 lb turkey in an hour. And a rushed ERP project won’t give you any better results. An ERP implementation really is the Thanksgiving Dinner of software rollouts. It’s the big one! To get it right requires planning and attention. The best advice for the rookie Turkey Day chef is the same as for the first time ERP project leader. If you’re short on experience, take your time!

4. Setting it up is more than a one-person job.

What’s more in the spirit of Thanksgiving than everyone pitching in? Mom directs the kitchen. Dad carves the turkey. And, you’ve always got one dedicated trooper willing to keep everyone up to speed on the score of the football game! Having functional process owners evaluate ERP systems and putting them in train-the-trainer type roles lets you maximize the strengths of your team. Just like having Captain Armchair call you into the living room when your team needs to convert on 4th and goal to get the win!

5. One of the major decisions is who will host it.

Where’s Thanksgiving Dinner for you this year? Your house? The folks? The in-laws? There are probably a few options in play. But not so long ago, you couldn’t have said the same thing about your choices for hosting your ERP software. Things have changed though. Today, there are many software as a service ERP options on the market. Even traditionally server-based programs can be hosted externally in a 3rd party data center, if you’d rather not deal with server maintenance issues internally.

6. It’s hard to make big changes to it.

Tell Margie in billing that she’s going to have to learn a new receivables program and she’s likely to respond about as well as Uncle Frank would if you told him mashed Potatoes and gravy are off the menu. The point is, choose carefully! Your ERP software—just like your Thanksgiving traditions—is something you’ll be living with for years to come.

7. One size doesn’t fit all.

Apparently, there’s an event hosted annually in London called the “Heaviest Turkey Competition.” (Bonus points for specificity, if not creativity, on that contest name.) Anyways, I mention it because in 1989 a gobbler named Tyson took the title of heaviest turkey ever, weighing in at 86 pounds. Yikes! No doubt, it’ll be a smaller bird on your family’s dining room table this year. But turkeys aren’t the only things that can vary in size. “ERP” is a term that was once was associated with only the largest companies. Today, it doesn’t take millions to invest in a Tyson sized ERP behemoth. There are ERP options designed for small businesses starting in the thousands.

8. It should balance the staples with what works for you.

It’s hard to imagine a Thanksgiving Dinner without the turkey, stuffing, and potatoes. But depending on where you are, you might find some unexpected dishes on the table to match the taste of the diners: pecan pies in the South, crab on the Atlantic coast, or roasted corn in the southwest. Customization is a part of the ERP equation as well. The idea with an ERP system is to meet your information system requirements as comprehensively as possible. And that often means configuring reports to measure your most critical KPIs, tweaking processes to accommodate your workflows, and adding other customizations to adapt to your unique needs.

9. Nobody said it’s easy.

Doing the shopping, cleaning, prep, and cooking to put together a feast for 15 or 20 people? That’s a lot! Similarly, it’s no small task to take on an ERP project. Just like you won’t wake up on the fourth Thursday of November and flip a feast on the table, it’ll also take a bit more effort to make sure your ERP project is a success. What Thanksgiving is to fast food, ERP is to apps. It’s a different ball game entirely. What prep will go into making your ERP project a success? To start with, careful evaluation of your own internal business processes, a thorough review of your software options, and a disciplined implementation.

10. It’s tough to beat when you do it right!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think there are a whole lot of feelings better than enjoying an amazing meal with the people you care most about in the world. And, no, of course ERP doesn’t have that type of magic in it. But it’s also not a stretch to say there’s something special about it. Your ERP system will have a massive impact on the way you do business. It will touch every part of your business, from sales to accounting to production to service. Every hard-won efficiency you work out in each refined workflow, every extra interdepartmental communication link, and every opportunity you create to base business decisions on data instead of hunches will deliver value year after year. And, that’s not a bad tradition to get started!

Happy thanksgiving from all of us here at Find Accounting Software!

Adam Bluemner

is a Managing Editor at Find Accounting Software. He's been helping software buyers make informed investments in business software for over a decade.

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