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When Gartner speaks, we all tend to listen. So when Gartner characterized 2014 as the dawn of post-modern ERP – where the enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite is de-constructed into a more federal, “loosely-coupled” ERP environment – I not only listened, but agreed. Because this is exactly the trend we are seeing in the market for enterprise software in the demanding aerospace and defense software industry.

Budgets for big information technology (IT) programs always come under scrutiny – some because of cost concerns, some because of concern over size and complexity and others because of relevance to perceived needs or risk. In turn there is a rich history, particularly in the public sector, of large and complex enterprise software, “big bang” programs, struggling to reach the originally set out goals, resulting in cost overruns, or extending to a point that organizations have matured or evolved beyond the original requirements set.

There is now a pent up demand to address and solve important issues across the enterprise.

In the Gartner Report “Predicts 2014: The Rise of the Postmodern ERP and Enterprise Applications World,” analysts Ganly, Kyte, Rayner and Hardcastle describe a movement towards hybrid ERP environments that combine cloud point solutions and on-premise core ERP  as enterprises require fast and agile re-configurations to meet changing business needs. The hybrid approach is one way to deliver what Gartner describes as a “Pace-Layered Application Strategy” — a methodology for categorizing, selecting, managing and governing applications to support business change, differentiation and innovation.

The Problem with a Solution

Traditionally, problems have arisen in balancing a matrix of ever-changing user requirements, rigid contracting relationships and equally rigid enterprise software technology within a program capable of delivering results.

Historically, an enterprise software program has been based on a team pulling together specific user, business or operational requirements from a broad spectrum of functional areas across the organization. The project team then seeks to obtain formal buy-in (and sometimes investment) and drive these into an enterprise structure to enable contracting and procurement processes to secure a single rigid software solution.

The common issue is that users’ requirements change on an exponential curve. Each time the requirements change, it unbalances the business case, the software solution selected and ever complicates the mapping of requirements for ROI. It has been done this way for many years because various methodologies have been championed to accommodate the delivery of rigid enterprise solutions.

IFS SOA

 Now modular approaches to ERP such as the IFS Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) approach are enabling organizations to move faster and become more agile through incremental capability provision, delivering the sort of solutions that Gartner is predicting.

The situation in Aerospace and Defense

In aerospace and defense (A&D) today, agility and responsiveness are key to mission success – and not just for troops, but for the support organizations that help form the wider capability. Processes and technologies need to be able to adapt and be managed quickly and effectively to whatever situation develops.

Unlike the traditional monolithic and rigid ERP solutions, modular, component-based Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) solutions allow users to quickly and cost effectively add new functionality by using “pick and mix” modules to enhance and extend their existing solution infrastructure.

Modular ERP solutions give organizations the ability to:

  • Tackle urgent IT requirements as quickly as they arise
  • Avoid the need to implement a broader and more rigid solution than is necessary at that time
  • Align the internal approvals process, requirements maturity and program risk
  • Flexibly enhance and extend their existing solution infrastructure
  • Flexibly evolve in markets key to their success
  • Reduce business disruption and costs
  • Provide the opportunity to evolve to a full enterprise solution over time
modules

Future proof your IT investment

A modular EAM solution has the advantage that it is often able to integrate with a wide variety of existing applications in the enterprise which, while at some stage in the future might require replacement, will serve adequately for the time being.

This technology lends itself to a situation where a large organization needs only to invest in the modules required to solve their immediate pain points, knowing that when these slivers of functionality need to eventually talk to each other or expand into an integrated enterprise without the challenges of wider system integration they will be able to do so via pre-integrated modules.

With IT budgets seeing minimal increases this year, it’s essential that organizations get the best value for their money. A modular solution provides agility, flexibility and future-proofed investment to help these organizations to deliver the capabilities required in defense today, and into the future.

This way, organizations can embrace a low risk and timely approach to solving their specific individual problems while being automatically architected for the future.

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