Transforming ERP with OutSystems

Are you working for a company that has spent years implementing one single ERP platform globally as your company’s core systems-of-record? While writing millions of lines of custom code to make reality fit the standard? In the meantime creating a monster that is so hard and expensive to maintain, that even the simplest changes take several months to implement and involve at least a dozen of consultants? If these change requests get approved at all by an army of guardians?

If the answer to this question is ‘yes’, then exiting times are ahead! Huge, monolithic ERP implementations are becoming a thing of the past. Today most companies are embarking on a cloud-first strategy. The vision is to create a central core and connect this core to off-the-shelve SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions that best fit your situation. If done correctly, you will ultimately have a system landscape with specialised solutions with clearly defined purposes, tied together with transparent interfaces. Ideally you would be able to replace any of these SaaS solutions with a different one with minimal effort.

On paper this sounds pretty cool. And it is. However, there is a reason why the old ERP implementations got bogged down with so much custom code: each company has a level of uniqueness that cannot be captured in a standard product. What’s more, chances are that these quirks in your company’s processes are actually part of what makes your company stand out and gives you that competitive edge in the marketplace. So the last thing you should do is try and change your way of working to fit the software you purchase and lose your competitive edge.

So if purchasing these off-the-shelve cloud solutions doesn’t cover your full software landscape? What do you do with those white spaces? How can you adhere to your cloud strategy with a standard core and SaaS products, but also give your company’s uniqueness the place it deserves? This can be achieved by introducing a development platform to complement your strategy: OutSystems. OutSystems is a low-code platform that allows for enterprise-grade application creation that is both scalable and maintainable. With OutSystems you can create custom-built SaaS solutions to fit the white spaces in your landscape: to cover those unique processes that you cannot purchase off the shelve.

On a high level it would look like this:

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OutSystems is the only low-code platform out there that is mature enough to build large enterprise-grade applications that are scaleable, maintainable, performant and secure. OutSystems strongpoints are pixel-perfect UI (web-based, mobile and progressive apps) and integration with everything, while also sporting enterprise-grade error handling, audit trails, DevOps tools and performance monitoring.

One problem with this SaaS strategy is that you end up with many applications your users need to log into to do their work. Even when using Single Sign On, you still end up with many different screens, with non-matching themes and no interaction. To maximise user experience and boost productivity, what you need is a role-based, unifying dashboard that your employees log into to do their daily chores. This dashboard is your user’s single entry point where all notifications, workflows and transactional work can be accessed. So if you are a buyer, you would see the status of your auctions, get notifications of purchase contracts you need to approve and get market info for your specific area. And you would also be able to request time off and fill in your timesheet. It would be much more than a traditional portal, because you can also create workflows that combines input from multiple solutions. And monitor the flow of data from sales to execution. This can all be done using OutSystems’ native integration and app building qualities.

Using OutSystems to fill the SaaS white spaces, create unifying user-centric dashboards and take care of integrations and add localisation, has a number of distinct advantages:

  • there is no limit to what you can develop in OutSystems. There are even companies out there that have successfully replaced their entire ERP with OutSystems.
  • development time in OutSystems is six to ten times faster than with traditional coding, reducing TCO of your IT landscape significantly.
  • you only need one skillset (OutSystems) to cover all these areas, which makes it easier to train talent and switch resources between projects upon need.
  • OutSystems is designed for reuse. When done correctly, no matter how complex your application, it will still be transparent and maintainable.
  • OutSystems is built for scale. No matter how many users the application needs to support, OutSystems can handle it with top notch performance.

If you are interested in a discussion on how low-code can help you in your long term strategy, reach out to me through my LinkedIn profile. Or visit NovioQ’s website at www.novioq.com.

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