Part one in the four-part series “How to X-Ray Your ERP”
About two weeks ago, I went to my doctor to check on a physical injury that was very painful during my morning run. First examining me, the doctor couldn’t find anything worrisome. But to be sure, we decided to order an X-ray to make sure nothing more serious was brewing.
Luckily, the X-ray didn’t indicate anything serious. But the whole experience did get me thinking on the way home: Could the same be done for ERP systems?
Fortunately, we don’t have to wonder anymore.
It’s here: A solution for diagnosing “invisible” ERP issues
An X-ray-like solution called Star + has been developed by SAP partner IBIS to scan ERP systems and visualize them on a computer screen. (Although, I must admit, black x-ray film would be super cool, too.) This tool quickly identifies pain points, bottlenecks, and highly manual processes that would benefit from changes or optimization to the ERP system.
Looking to identify business and IT opportunities to tackle with their transformation enabled by a next-generation ERP, many SAP customers have opted to use Star+ to review the scan results of their legacy ERP system.
Recently, I had the opportunity to review a few of these scan results and discuss the findings with some of our largest customers.
How it works
The ERP scanning technology monitors how transactions – from sales order creation and material requirement planning (MRP) runs to goods issues and account receivable (AR) postings – are executed in an ERP system. It also connects the dots between various transactions across different ERP components such as sales and distribution (SD), material management, and financial accounting.
More importantly, business users can literally see how, for example, customer sales orders are funneled through this integrated flow across the ERP system:
- Created in an SD workflow
- Moves through the MRP engine for production
- Arrives in inventory with goods receipts and issues processes
- Charged as an AR posting for revenue recognition.
Figure 1: Scan of the Material Requirement Process
The scanning technology displays this information in an easy-to-follow visual process diagram, allowing organizations to uncover gaps and bottlenecks in their ERP systems. Decision makers can go from a high-level overview of their process and drill deeper into the individual transaction level to understand how all users are actually interacting with the system.
In addition to business process analysis, Star+ provides an in-depth view of ERP customizations, organizational structure, and master data. This insight allows companies to determine which custom objects, master data, and company codes are being used by the business, versus those that should be retired to increase business agility.
Figure 2: Star+ scan showing usage of custom objects in logistics
Explore the possibilities in my ERP X-ray series
To date, dozens of SAP’s largest customers have put their ERP systems under the scanning tehnology to uncover opportunities for improvement as they look to reinvent their business processes to next-generation ERP such as SAP S/4HANA. In this new blog series, I will share some of their stories and the strategic, business and IT findings discovered during their scan workshops.
In my next blog, we will discuss how X-raying your ERP system can release your business from past IT decisions to further simplify your architecture.
For more on this topic, read “Is Your Legacy ERP Holding Your Business Back?“