As a pillar of a company’s record-keeping and business process management, ERP systems are intrinsically complex. That complexity, evidently, leads to confusion and a failure by many companies to take full advantage of what their systems can offer.

In a survey a small majority of ERP users, only 54% said their system is “easy enough” to work with but might be improved. Analysts said this reflects widespread stoicism in “making do” with what’s available while hoping for something better. 

The comparison reflected the slow development of the ERP software category. Only one in five 19% of respondents said their ERP works very well, somewhat better than the 12% in 2006. More than three-quarters said usability is among the most important criteria to consider when selecting ERP software. 

“We conducted this research because, after more than a decade of steady developments, ERP systems have begun to change fundamentally,” “Growing accessibility of new technologies  such as cloud computing, database design, collaboration, mobility, analytics, and planning means there is a potential to address shortcomings and the most common complaints about today’s systems.”

The analysis found significant functions in which current ERP systems fall short. Automating processes from end-to-end, for example, can ensure data quality, speed transactions and free up employees for other tasks. Yet most organizations do not use ERP to facilitate automation: Only 30% fully automate their order-to-cash cycle in some or all of the company, and just 23% fully automate the procure-to-pay cycle.

Organizations use separate applications for core processes that could be handled in a unified ERP suite. Three-quarters of users have an HR application that comes from a vendor other than their ERP supplier. There were separate systems for project management (57%), e-commerce (54%), maintenance, repair and overhaul (51%) and expense management (45%).

Key Takeaways:

• ERP users stoically “make do” with what’s available while hoping for something better.

• Usability is a key criterion in choosing which ERP suite to buy.

• Few companies fully integrate all their IT functions into a unified ERP suite.