Sunset Your Legacy ERP

Interview with Alison Giddens, President of Win-Tech.

Enterprise Resource Planning systems, or ERP systems, have been helping people solve business problems since the 1960s. This often means that many organizations are running on software that was written twenty to thirty years ago. While the adage of “don’t fix what isn’t broken” does hold true, these legacy ERPs are quickly becoming obsolete due to the advantages of 21st-century technology. This has posed a challenge for many business owners who are facing a decision between keeping their working legacy systems and making an investment in new software that could pay dividends.

I interviewed Allison Giddens, President of Win-Tech and an industry leader. Win-Tech is an AS9100-certified aerospace machine shop located in Kennesaw, Georgia. Allison shared her perspective as a business owner on these legacy ERP systems. 

Q: What are your absolute biggest complaints or frustrations with legacy ERPs?

A: Using our legacy ERPs, we are extremely limited in reporting functionality – unless we want to fall back to 1994 and get really good at Crystal Reporting. Currently, I’ve created some Microsoft Queries that I can refresh in a Microsoft Excel document, but even then – I’m terrified that one day, they’ll break, and I’m back to the drawing board on easily tallying some monthly KPIs. Of course, there’s always the concern about garbage in, garbage out, but because legacy ERPs are notoriously bad for being hard to “undo” certain things or remove bad data, it’s hard to be confident that the data you’ve got is usable.

Additionally, legacy ERPs look old.  They have an old-school feel to them, that even with regular product updates, the backend remains, so there is just a color change here and there, and then it’s called “new and improved.”  If I’m going to attract the next generation to work for me, I’ve got to use an ERP that is intuitive and functional.

Q: How does using legacy ERPs negatively affect your day-to-day operations?

A: Many legacy ERPs don’t integrate with newer system-wide technology. For example, if you wanted to put a current on-premise legacy ERP in the cloud, depending on the type of application, you may be limited to something like a terminal server (which, if you don’t have reliable internet, you may experience network hiccups that prevent any actual use of the ERP). Additionally, legacy ERPs often integrate some basic file server sharing, which for some manufacturers operating in the government contracting space, is a cybersecurity risk.

Q: What are three major wishes you have for a new ERP system to include?

A: Besides the price point being right, something that enables my shop floor personnel to do their jobs easily and more efficiently, something that allows leadership to confidently know the status of a job in real-time and plan for capacity constraints, something that can be easily learned by a new user.

Many businesses still rely on these 20+ year old ERPs to run their operations today. However, with rising threats from new manufacturing operations and overseas competitors, shop owners and leaders should be looking for easy-to-use tools—like next-generation software—to power their workforce and enable business growth. 


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