It’s not uncommon for an IT team at a midsize organization to have about five support personnel on staff. Collectively these individuals may be assigned as many as 70 different roles, including ERP responsibilities. To reduce both the cost and the complexity of maintaining an ERP environment, midmarket organizations often deploy solutions that are highly templated and offer little customization, but those who need a more robust ERP deployment face increased support challenges.
In its ERP Support Strategies report, Gartner found that these midsize enterprises are not providing the proper level of support, or are spending more money than they should. IT leaders reported to Gartner that the lack of skills and staff are the biggest barriers to achieving their ERP support objectives.
Roles Needed to Support ERP
Most midmarket IT teams are generalists and not specialists. ERP support requires the IT staff to not only be versatile with their technical skills, but must also possess a business acumen that is not easy to find. This can create a challenge for IT leaders as they attempt to assign ERP support roles based on skill sets. Without a good understanding of the roles, IT leaders may be improperly assigning responsibilities or rushing to outsource them — both approaches are likely to lead to suboptimal results and create unnecessary barriers to a stable organization.
Gartner provides a staff planning tool as a framework for identifying the roles, services and skills needed to support ERP deployments. Three types of roles are recommended:
- Application Maintenance and Management — These roles are required to maintain the application itself.
- Operations (Infrastructure) — These roles support the technical layer on which the application runs.
- Business Services — These roles are end-user facing and require a high degree of business knowledge.
Considering Outsourcing Options
Leveraging outside expertise and resources can help midsize organizations meet ERP support demands and contain costs. While the trend is to outsource non-strategic functions, Gartner identifies several rules of thumb:
- While application management can be outsourced in its entirety, organizations must consider the risk of losing critical system knowledge, including how the configuration supports business requirements.
- Services in the business category, such as business process analysis and organizational change management, should not be outsourced.
- Training can be outsourced when using the right vendor, but organizations must consider the benefits and limitations first.
For optimal ERP performance, internal staff should be assigned a quality-control role to ensure back-end technical governance continuously meets the organization’s quality standards.
OneNeck IT Solutions is a leading ERP hosting and application management provider who supports most major ERP applications including Microsoft Dynamics AX, SAP, and Oracle E-Business Suite. Our promise to you is to provide a single point of accountability for your ERP infrastructure. For many of its customers, OneNeck is the sole organization responsible for managing their entire enterprise application environment.