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The Next Generation of ERP

By Bob Violino  |  Posted 05-06-2008 Print
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Scaling for Growth

Though flexibility obviously plays a key role in any successful ERP implementation, it shares the stage with scalability, which supports corporate growth. A scalable ERP platform has enabled Novartis Consumer Health, a division of the Swiss pharmaceuticals company Novartis, to increase its business and manage multiple acquisitions.

In fact, an SAP ERP system has been "the backbone that has helped our company grow at the rates we have historically enjoyed," says Greg Meyers, CIO, Americas.

In the past, Novartis Consumer Health viewed ERP as a platform to allow its regional commercial operations to work seamlessly as self-contained units. "As our business grows and continues to globalize, we see a benefit in moving toward a more global instance that allows us to better share product and customer master data across regions," Meyers says.

With a global ERP capability, the company plans to improve integration among key business processes. "Whether we're attempting to deploy a global supply chain or provide better customer service, a global ERP instance helps us achieve many benefits," he says.

Novartis Consumer Health continually faces decisions about whether to stay within the SAP suite of
applications or adopt a best-of-breed application. Meyers explains the dilemma: "With almost every new
application--data warehousing, advanced planning, MRP [material requirements planning], warehouse management--there is an inevitable debate that occurs. Do we stay with our ERP vendor and use its capabilities, or go outside and use a boutique solution?"

In many cases, the boutique solutions are more financially attractive and have greater functionality. "However," Meyers says, "after reviewing total cost of ownership, and in the interests of maintaining a harmonized landscape with the best-quality data integrity, the existing ERP solution ends up being the wiser of the two."

CIOs face a major challenge in choosing, implementing and maintaining an ERP system. Are you ready?

Also see:

Five Questions Before Upgrading Your ERP System

ERP: A Morphing Market

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