Nothing stays the same forever. This certainly holds true in the world of software, where the term “application erosion” was coined some 20 years ago to describe the deterioration over time of the value to an organization of a software solution, such as ERP software. Truth be told, most organizations suffer application erosion to some degree, even though they may not recognize it. In any instance it’s crucial to have a software functionality evaluation.
Application Erosion and Software Functionality Evaluation
An organization is experiencing application erosion when the functions of a software solution that has largely remained unchanged are being used less and less over time for no apparent reason.
What causes application erosion?
There are two key causes of application erosion with ERP software and often they are both chipping away at the same time.
- The software has remained static in an environment of technological change. Clearly, we are living in a time of rapid technological change and sometimes software solutions do not keep pace, either because their conceptual framework and functions are no longer relevant or upgrades are inadequate. Associated with this phenomenon is the perception that a software system has fallen behind the times, even if, for all intents and purposes, it remains highly functional and of value to the organization that has invested an immense amount of time and money in it. When a new software solution enters the picture and makes a big splash with rich new features, there’s a tendency to perceive it as being leading edge, making it more attractive than a productive stalwart bedecked in less sexy wrapping. The software business can be brutal in this regard. A software system does not necessarily need to be leading edge to be of tremendous value. After all, it’s the data in the system that should be considered top priority.
- Even more than technological change, however, it’s people that are the key causes of application erosion. It’s common for users of ERP software to fail to take advantage of many of the functions that are available with their existing software or that are available from the vendor of the software. With regards to the former, generally this is not a conscious decision. Rather, system users often simply forget about all the functions available to them or forget how to use them. They are, after all, people—people with flaws. Who knew that people were not perfect!Another factor in underutilizing software functionality is staff turnover. Unless there is a formal training program for newcomers, training gets done by existing users who, as outlined above, may have forgotten about many functions. And before you know it, these newcomers who were not comprehensively trained themselves become trainers for the next round of newcomers, further diluting knowledge of an ERP software’s capabilities, diminishing the solution’s value to the organization.
How can an organization avoid or reverse application erosion?
When an organization starts to question the utility of its ERP software it needs to conduct an internal analysis to determine the sources of its problems with the software and then formulate a plan. Often this process leads to the conclusion that more and better training of its ERP software users is required.
A formal training program for new users of ERP software can go a long way towards preventing application erosion. Retraining of existing users can be a critical step in reversing application erosion. Training is time-consuming and hence costly, but it is invariably less disruptive and expensive than implementing an entirely new ERP software solution.
When organizations first get their ERP software installed they usually have employees who are system experts with whom other less knowledgeable users regularly consult. Invariably, however, these experts move to other positions or organizations, creating a knowledge vacuum. When this happens, it behooves organizations to identify users who have the requisite enthusiasm, knowledge and communications skills to become an ERP expert—and to create of new generation of system experts for their organization. The expertise of these employees needs to be formally recognized and a system for the ongoing training of new experts needs to be established.
Six S Partners and Epicor ERP software training
As a certified Platinum Epicor Partner, Six S Partners doesn’t just sell an organization Epicor ERP software and then disappear. We work side-by-side with organization from project initiation through to completion and beyond. Six S Partners fully appreciates that optimizing the value to an organization of Epicor ERP software requires ongoing training and has a team of trainers from many industries that can leverage the training that Epicor has to offer. We will be happy to perform software functionality evaluation if required as well. If your organization is not getting the value you expected from your Epicor ERP software or have experienced staff turnover, Click here to contact us to learn how we can help you prevent or reverse application erosion in your organization.