Blog May 15, 2018

Is openness integral to your ERP’s vision?

By Brian Zrimsek

The ninth point in our “Ten ways to tell if your enterprise software provider is open” series is on the topic of openness and connectedness being an integral part of the vision of the enterprise software provider.

When you ask your provider to articulate their outlook for an open and connected ecosystem, you should find a future state vision and the related product roadmaps to achieve the vision. Additionally, people across the organization should be able to articulate this vision-to-execution plan and the benefits it provides.

Clear Vision

Some vision-related questions to consider:

  • Can they articulate a vision for an open and connected future state?
  • Is this vision an integral component of their corporate direction?
  • Do they have a strategy to achieve their goals and realize their vision?

Embracing an open and connected approach to enterprise software must permeate an organization as it impacts how products are built, how they are sold, and how they are supported.

Further, as it is a departure from tradition, sponsorship must come from the highest levels in the organization. That sponsorship must be active in order to align all parts of the organization to the vision so that it can be achieved across all its levels.

Executives set the tone, communicate priorities, and allocate resources. If these steps are not taken, then the vision will not be achieved, strategies will not be crafted, and resources will be tasked with more important work.

Execution Plans

Many technology professionals are familiar with the saying “plan the work and work the plan.” To achieve the open and connected vision and to make the enabling strategies come to life, your provider needs clear plans of action and all the associated processes and resources that make any initiative a success.

Some execution-related questions to consider:

  • Have they operationalized their strategy?
  • Are they taking action now?
  • Do they have plans to further evolve their open and connected capabilities?

Without plans for action, you are left with just words, and words alone will not change an organization’s approach to being open and connected. Two famous quotes come to mind on the topic of words and actions:

“I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.” ― John Locke
“Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.” ― Alfred Adler

Throughout this series, we have looked at a variety of areas to find evidence of both strategy and execution of an open ecosystem. We have looked for words and for actions.

Through your analysis, you should be able to determine which of these three categories your provider fits into:

1. They want to – If you can see it in their strategy and in their tactics, then you have a partner that is committed to being open and connected. They are proactively dedicating resources to progress while also providing thought leadership on the topic.

2. They have to – If you see it in their tactics but it lacks a strategic focus, then they are likely approaching integration and connectivity in a case by case, feature by feature fashion with motivation coming from client/market pressures. Additionally, heavily acquisitive organizations may be forced to continue to provide integrations between acquired products and competitive ecosystems in order to maintain clients and the associated revenue.

3. They don’t care – If you don’t see it in strategy and you don’t see it in action, then the conclusion is clear. Your provider is not interested in being open and connected. They are operating and thinking like a traditional, monolithic provider of integrated software and the onus for managing integration falls on you.

Hopefully, your provider matches your own enthusiasm for being open and connected. If not, you should look for a partner who is talking the talk you like and walking in the same direction you want to walk.

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