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…selecting and implementing enterprise software would be a lot easier.

Sure, you would still need to ensure that whatever enterprise resource planning (ERP) or enterprise asset management (EAM) software you select would meet your immediate functional needs.

vision for business agilityBut enterprise software tends to stay in place for a decade or more. Over that time, a lot can happen. In fact, a lot will happen. And has happened. Over the past 10 years for instance, the manufacturing industry become more international, with an emphasis on outsourcing and project management. Manufacturing in industrialized nations has become more diverse, with shorter runs and a greater focus on engineering and collaboration. The oil and gas exploration sector has seen explosive growth, along with new business practices that place a premium on risk mitigation and asset integrity. Businesses of all stripes have seen customer- and government-mandated requirements for corporate social responsibility (CSR), traceability and health, safety and environmental (HSE) controls. Stakeholders are aggressively managing expenditures on capital assets, even as much of the world’s key industrial infrastructure ranging from process manufacturing to power plants to oil refineries is long past its planned lifecycle.

The point? If you expect your business and the software it runs on to remain in a static state for very long, you’re dreaming. Your business will change. Will the long-lived information infrastructure you put in place to run your business be able to keep up? Or will you find you have hamstrung yourself with a rigid, overly complex business system that costs so much and takes so long to change, your more nimble competitors will eat your lunch?

At IFS, we are adamant that business solutions like ERP, EAM or  field service management software should help rather than prevent you from adapting to even the most structural changes to your business.

In this new video, part of the vaunted Business Agility series, we lay out the ways in which enterprise software must facilitate execution on your vision of the future and provide insight into change as it unfolds around you.

Some  of the changes heralded in this video are ones your stated business vision or strategy may deal with. If you plan to grow by acquisition, you had better think about how your ERP software will contend with adding new divisions with various business models and handling intra-company transactions. If you plan to expand into your value chain by acquiring suppliers or customers, or adding after market services, you need to consider in advance the changes that will mean for your enterprise software environment. What opportunity cost will your ERP software present for each of these changes? How can enterprise software be developed, selected, planned and implemented to maximize business agility while lowering total cost of agility?

Other changes will come at you from out of the blue. Yes, we all think we are omniscient, but guess what. We’re not. Let’s say civil unrest shuts off your access to a key overseas supplier. Or a competitor is teetering on bankruptcy, and you need to determine how to gear up to take advantage of the opportunity. Perhaps new regulations, or a major customer, require you to track your environmental impact or chemical composition of your products in new and demanding ways. The simple business cycle of recession and recovery can leave you reeling as you try to interpret business signals well enough pull back as a recession hits and scale back up as market confidence returns.

But you tell us … what structural changes are you anticipating in your business? What types of unexpected changes keep you up at night? Do you have the vision to see what is coming next for your business, and the confidence in your existing enterprise infrastructure to help you cope with both planned and unplanned changes? And how well is your enterprise software helping you keep up with the rapid and inexorable pace of change?

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