Although the new year isn’t the furthermost of times for the go-live of a totally new enterprise system what with the insanity of the holidays, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use the chance of a new beginning to refocus on your enterprise software and ERP strategy. It can be easy to settle into a custom daily habit when it comes to ERP as data entry becomes ‘second nature’ as you pull the same reports and make use of the same functionalities and reports every day. Fight back against this type of enterprise software stagnation (which can stifle business growth) by instigating a system of incessant development and process modeling this New Year. Every day must consist of the new conversation with your ERP how can your employees leverage it for more knowledge, more power, and more ROI? You should be bearing in mind all of these factors and more as you plan your ERP strategy for the year ahead. Here are some more key steps you should be taking when it comes to ERP and mapping out where you want the software to be in 2018. 

Consider the Internet of Things (IoT)

While customer devices like smart watches and internet-connected glasses are getting all of the press when it comes to the buzz around IOT, the impression could be just as revolutionary when it comes to your ERP strategy and software that you make use of within your business. For example, it is easier than ever for manufacturers to attach their shop floor and production lines to the web, and thus collect real-time output and equipped data on their lines. Imagine the power this kind of data can hold; you could calculate shutdowns in advance, plan for demand accurately and schedule your production with concrete data on product needed and how you can your lines work to make that product most effectively. IoT is not just a ‘trending’ term; connected devices are going to change how business is done in the near future. If you’re not already adopting the new technology, make 2017 the year you start.

Redefine and identify Your ERP Strategy

The holiday period previous to a new year can be a tough stretch for any major software changes or implementations, but you don’t have to waste that downtime totally. Use it instead to compile a review of your current business processes, your current ERP strategy and really ensure that the two are in line. Is your current ERP becoming too burdensome and unwilling to listen to a growing business? Has your traveling or out-of-office team considerably increased, warranting a move to the cloud for your ERP? Take the lull in activity as a time to reflect on the year and focus on how to refine your ERP strategy to align with where you want your business to grow next year.

Define a Plan for Continuous Improvement

You should be looking to improve your ERP strategy constantly over the next year, not just in huge leaps at the beginning and middle of each year and the key to that progress is setting specific goals. Have a set plan in place that checks KPIs throughout your shop floor and whether your ERP is helping your team improve upon them. If they aren't taking a serious look at why not. Is it a failure on the employee or software end?

Strong continuous improvement means locating areas of waste and unproductively as soon as they happen and eliminating them. Don't dilly-dally around the problems, they will only come back to bite your business even harder in the end. By setting specific, measurable goals with hard deadlines throughout the year (every quarter can be a good place for businesses to start), you’ll arrive at 2018 with much more efficient software.

Consider incorporation

If you haven’t gotten around to integrating your ERP with other enterprise systems like CRM, BI or marketing mechanization, why not? It’s one of the most powerful steps you can take towards increasing the ROI and informational value on all of your software. Consider this the big step you make within your ERP strategy in 2017.

True integration can be invaluable to your Business Intelligence reporting and analytics: giving your team a 360-degree view of the customer, buying data and how your shop floor is able to react to change trends in your front office. Your sales team will be able to give potential customers precise inventory levels and shipment predictions resulting in happier (and returning) clients. Integration can also give you the imminent you’ll need to shift your sales strategy depending on current stock and predicted future trends garnered from BI or historical ERP data. Really, the possibilities are endless when it comes to enterprise integration, and if you don't make steps towards becoming a technically unified enterprise in 2017, you will fall behind.

Encircle positive

You need to have a strong, carefully planned ERP strategy going into the New Year. Yes, the holidays are a period of rest and relaxation for employees and that should not be taken away. However, a solid strategy will ensure that every team member is ready to get off the ground running when they get back into the office and onto your enterprise systems. By considering your current strategy, you can make sure it’s watertight before you add any new innovations like the cloud or integration with another system. Enter the year with a solid plan in hand and the motivation to ensure that by the time 2018 comes around, you’ll still have all the power (and more) of the ERP software you originally paid for.