ERP & Service Management: Bridging the Engagement Gap
ServiceNow’s Financial Analyst Day in May '23 highlighted the overlooked gap between Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Service Management. This gap impacts an organisation's capacity for customer and employee engagement. ERP systems are tailored for back-office tasks and often struggle to adapt for relationship-building, whereas Service Management platforms excel in this regard. In this blog I will explore the benefits and challenges of bringing these concepts close together.
ERP and Service Management Overview
ERP systems are adept at automating internal functions such as HR and finance but often overlook customer and employee engagement. On the other hand, Service Management platforms prioritise these aspects, offering agility in customer service. By merging ERP's operational efficiency with Service Management's focus on engagement, organisations can improve customer satisfaction without losing operational strength.
This merger brings together the best of both worlds: operational efficiency from ERP and elevated customer and employee satisfaction from Service Management. Nonetheless, the path to successful integration is fraught with challenges—from technical and financial issues to governance and change management—that must be addressed. Navigating these challenges is crucial for establishing an ecosystem that is both operationally efficient and rich in customer and employee engagement.
The 10 Challenges
Before getting into the specifics, it's important to understand the various obstacles that may emerge during the integration of ERP and Service Management systems.
- Technical Complexity: Bridging ERP and Service Management requires customisation, which can be costly and time-consuming. This not only risks ineffective integration but also undermines customer and employee experiences.
- Data Silos: Separate data storage in each system complicates a holistic view of business operations, affecting both customer service and financial reporting.
- Vendor Lock-In: Reliance on a single vendor can limit flexibility, leading to costly workarounds or even system replacement.
- Cost: Cutting corners in the integration can result in 'technical debt', affecting both future adaptability and long-term customer satisfaction.
- Unclear ROI: Difficulties in quantifying benefits can stall projects, necessitating a robust business case for stakeholder buy-in.
- Organisational Inertia: Resistance to change can derail projects and necessitates a strong change management strategy.
- Skills Gap: A lack of specialised expertise can hinder progress, raise costs, and complicate the project.
- Priority Misalignment: Departmental conflicts can dilute focus, affecting the level of customer and employee engagement and requiring clear communication and executive backing.
- Change Management: Without a comprehensive change strategy, the project may fail, wasting resources and failing to improve operations.
- Governance and Compliance: Meeting compliance requirements, such as GDPR and HIPAA, complicates the integration process. Failure to comply can risk not only financial penalties but also the trust of customers and employees.
Navigating the Complexity
Successfully merging ERP and Service Management requires a well-designed, business-aligned roadmap that addresses both back-office operations and customer-facing processes. Initiating this roadmap is an AI-powered analysis, which goes beyond basic reporting. This comprehensive analysis includes lean process analysis to identify waste and streamline operations, as well as customer journey mapping to understand the touchpoints that shape customer and employee experiences. By going deep into both structured and unstructured data sources, this intricate analysis is instrumental in uncovering hidden inefficiencies and setting the direction for future actions.
Service Management platforms fill the engagement gaps often left by ERP systems. Features like customer-focused self-service portals not only enhance user interaction but also streamline internal processes.
Critical decisions around technology should prioritise seamless integration and scalability. Compliance with industry standards is non-negotiable for maintaining customer trust.
Lastly, ongoing adjustments through pilot tests and performance metrics should align with business objectives. This approach enables organisations to manage complexities efficiently, resulting in a more effective and customer-centric ecosystem.
Customer Spotlight: Tailored Success
Global Energy Leader
Schlumberger, a global energy leader, faced challenges such as data silos and skill gaps when rolling out SAP HANA. Our first step was an AI-powered analysis that incorporated lean process analysis and customer journey mapping. This in-depth review helped Schlumberger understand not only their back-office inefficiencies but also the touchpoints affecting customer and employee satisfaction. We then revamped their service catalogue to be more user-friendly, aligning it seamlessly with their existing ERP system. This project laid the groundwork for ongoing optimisation and took an initial three months to complete.
Luxury in Automotive
For Porsche, GDPR compliance was a significant concern. Again, our AI-driven analysis, featuring structured databases and unstructured information, was instrumental. The analysis included reviewing customer journey maps to ensure GDPR compliance without sacrificing customer experience. We also provided training programmes to build the skills necessary for maintaining this new standard. This project not only helped Porsche swiftly meet GDPR requirements but also transformed their customer data collection processes. This initiative was wrapped up in a single month and strongly underscored the importance of a data-driven approach for business alignment.
Successfully merging ERP with Service Management is a strategic imperative that brings customer and employee engagement to the forefront. Our collaborations with many large enterprises show that a data-driven strategy not only solves operational challenges but also enhances customer-centricity. The complexities are real, but the rewards are significant: improved operational efficiency and more meaningful interactions with both customers and employees.
Explore how our data-driven roadmap can solve your challenges. Read our whitepaper on 'Transforming Customer Experience'.
Chief Strategy Officer