ERP Implementation and Digital Transformation: Yes, There’s a Difference!

Asking the question: As an IT leader, what can I do to help my company?  

The pandemic forced many organizations to adopt new digital tools to allow users to work from home and efficiently communicate with customers and colleagues. Looking for guidance, many IT leaders turned to ERP solutions providers since they specialized in the field and provided pre-built and configurable tools to address the challenges they were facing.   

With that in mind, experienced IT industry leaders say that it’s crucial to distinguish ERP implementations and digital transformation for organizations who wish to take their business to a higher level because they are NOT the same.   

According to Eric Kimberling, CEO and Founder of Third Stage Consulting Group, they imply different degrees of preparation and results for businesses. So, what are the key differences between ERP implementation and digital transformation? Let’s dive right into it by looking at Kimberling’s descriptions of each.   


Identifying and defining the opportunity  

As shown in Kimberling’s table below, digital transformation suggests fundamental changes on an organizational level and requires much more preparation. In addition, the organizational and cultural aspect of the business transforms to fit the new model, resulting in changing tasks and responsibilities for employees. Since the change is deep-rooted and comes with life-changing benefits for everyone working in the organization, there is substantial risk involved.   

For ERP implementations, the picture is different. Implementing these tools changes the way you work every day but represents a small step in digital transformation. Employees will need to adapt and train in a new system, allowing them to complete their tasks more easily as this path focuses on increasing efficiency and saving on costs. However, as it only affects part of the organization and business processes, the risk remains moderate.    


Making the right decision isn’t easy 

As all leaders know very well, growth takes time. So, whether you feel tempted to make small changes first or go all in to transform your business on an organizational level, you must first see if your organization is ready.   

You must use technology that fits your organization for a successful transformation instead of being cornered by it. As Kimberling says, there is “no one-size-fits-all answer” since organizations can be at distinct stages of becoming digital. For example, some companies might have limited resources to dedicate to change. However, here are some points to consider if you are ready and want to take the next steps. 

Impactful change requires a powerful vision—a vision of helping your colleagues and how you can improve the customer journey and experience. With technology being only one part of the equation, it’s crucial to understand gaps within your organization, just as much as outside.    

That means it’s always a work in progress and requires lots of effort to add value to the communities inside and surrounding your organization. However, through new and connected ecosystems, you will have the chance to collaborate, communicate and respond in real-time, making everyone in your supply chain happy.   

With ERP implementations, you can expect to see quicker results. The new technology will help streamline your business processes, eliminating inefficiencies and reducing labour costs. In addition, with faster results, it’s easier to quantify and track your improvements.   

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Small steps in the right direction   

If you feel like you are late in the game, that’s ok. You are not alone. Only 21% of North American and European enterprises say their digital transformation is done (Forrester, 2018).   

What’s important to remember is, this process takes time, and it is something you must work at every day.   

Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. Expert consulting companies like Third Stage Consulting Group and Vantree can help you analyze your progress and guide you through your journey. We will work with your team to identify gaps, set goals, and help you get there.   

By choosing the right technology that fits your business and partnering with the right team of experts, you will be sure to take the right steps towards your goals.   

The importance of EDI in your digital transformation objectives   

Aside from meeting trading partners’ requirements, EDI automation can help improve the staff’s quality of life by reducing errors caused by manual data entry. By pushing and pulling data from your core ERP, EDI automation improves data accuracy and communication inside and outside the organization.    

That means your retail and e-commerce clients will also benefit. They can enjoy faster order fulfilment, directly impacting the customer experience.   

If you would like to find out more about the importance of EDI in your digital transformation for small to mid-sized businesses, check out our discussion with Leena Poodipeddi and Jim Gonzales on LinkedIn.   

For more questions about how EDI can help you get to where you want to be, visit and ask to speak to an expert.   

Happy holidays!   


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