Focusing on Business Flexibility
CIOs who implement ERP applications today want systems that provide business flexibility. "Early on, the ERP philosophy was to make sure your business worked around the software, but I don't think that model was very successful," says Brad Manning, CIO at Quaker Chemical, a Conshohocken, Pa., chemicals manufacturer. "The evolution of ERP is to move toward being more flexible and dynamic so you can configure the systems around your business."
Quaker began using ERP in 2001, when it deployed EnterpriseOne XE from JD Edwards (now part of Oracle) to replace an old order-management system that wasn't keeping up with its growth and global expansion and wasn't providing visibility into business operations. One reason EnterpriseOne was chosen was because it was supported on Quaker's IBM AS/400 platform.
Manning has been pleased with the ERP system, which it uses for design-to-manufacture, order-to-cash, order entry, accounting, purchasing, research and development, and procurement applications. However, this year Quaker plans to upgrade to the latest version, EnterpriseOne 8.12, primarily to gain greater systems performance and business flexibility.
XE was the first Web-enabled offering from JD Edwards, but performance and ease of use weren't optimized. The system has since been re-engineered with those improvements in mind. Quaker now wants greater stability. "We have pushed XE beyond its limits, and every time we roll it out to a new site, the stability gets worse, and we end up with more data problems," Manning says. The upgraded ERP system will allow Quaker to take advantage of new capabilities, such as e-commerce and customer self-service features.