Q:

What are some benefits and challenges of enterprise systems?

A:

The most compelling benefit of an enterprise system is that it enables collaboration and efficiency among the departments in an organization. The significant investment often required in infrastructure and organizational processes, along with the burden of strategic planning and cross-organizational teamwork, are challenges.

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When successful, implementation of an enterprise system offers the potential for major competitive advantages. Organizations can outpace competitors with more efficient resource utilization, better overall management of customer relationships and improved operational efficiency. Some companies have a system that connects sales forecasts to production budgets and materials inventory, for instance.

Enterprise systems are driven by software platforms. Building up an optimal infrastructure, including the right software solution, is a major investment for many companies. Putting the right system into place from the beginning is a concern. Some companies fail to take the time to plan strategically from the outset, which increases the risks of a bad investment. Others either don't get strategic planning involvement from enough department leaders or they build a failed strategy. Even with a careful strategy, implementing a system that aligns technology with involvement of all workers across the organization is an obstacle. A culture of collaboration enhances the chances of success, but clear communication and work flows are necessary as well.

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