4 ways to tell if your ERP system or business systems are overloaded
For most ERP systems and business management software targeted at SMEs there are some simple indicators that they are becoming overloaded. Once you’ve started to notice these symptoms, there are immediate actions you can take. However, generally speaking, it is never a good thing to let such an important business system get to this point in the first place because these symptoms indicate a reasonable degree of stress in the system.
Overload symptoms in ERP Systems and Business Management Software:
Your system responds slowly and crashes more frequenly
Firstly, you need to establish whether this is your server / environment which is causing this. Network overload can make this happen too. Once these are ruled out, then you can look at your ERP software itself. Crashing and slow response are very good indicators that the system is being asked to work beyond its normal load. First thing to consider – is this happening at a specific time of the day / week / month? If so, then you might want to reschedule work so the load is more even. If not and it is unexpected crashes or continuously slow, then you might need to consider a completely new system. If your business is growing and is making significantly more transactions, then outgrowing your ERP system is a natural consequence of success.
It does not support the number of users you have or need
This is a typical issue for rapidly expanding companies who purchase ERP solutions which they simply outgrow. Some systems are specifically built for a maximum number of people and, once exceeded, you get to the point where you have wait to log in. For SaaS systems, you might have exceeded the number of seats you have rented and it is possible to simply increase the total number of seats. But for other on-premise systems, this will probably require some kind of upgrade which will be both expensive and lock you in. Unless you are very satisfied with the user interface and functionality, it is likely that a new system will provide a much more efficient working environment and will carry you into the future rather than lock you into the past.
You are using spreadsheets and other work-arounds to augment what your ERP system cannot do
This tends to be the main driving reason and most commonly the symptom of an ERP system being overloaded or exceeding the specification for the ERP system. Finance departments are normally very good at understanding the functionality they require. With ERP systems, this can be a bit more of a challenge because access might expand into operations and customer service too. As more and more seats use the systems, then the load goes up and the system response time goes down. As this happens, some departments find work arounds to allow them to complete their work. However, this is not always a good solution as information is lost to the system and the benefit of having a comprehensive view on how the business is operating is compromised.
You are exceeding the maximum load for certain procedures
Most publishers will not tell you this, but their systems are optimised for certain numbers of different transactions. This is quite important because exceeding this figure means you will almost certainly need to buy another, more powerful system. This can be critical for retailers or others who carry large amounts of stock because this is a typical overload. Another is for certain financial transactions – if you process a certain number of invoices or deal with large numbers of small suppliers, this can cause difficulties for some medium sized systems.
What are the options if you are suffering overload?
First thing to do is make sure it is the ERP system which is at fault
Then check to see if the processing load can be time shifted to a lighter load time. An example of this is moving batch processing to happen overnight or at other low load periods. Beyond that, if you can’t or don’t want to upgrade or pay for a new system, then your only option is to learn how to adapt to your situation.
If this is not possible then you might want to look at an upgrade to your current system or the purchase of a new system altogether. The benefit of a new system is that it will give you much more functionality at a stroke. There has been quite a bit of system development recently – especially with the increase in popularity of online sales channels for both B2B and B2C – and these will be better supported by a new system.
We know that replacement cycles for ERP systems is generally around the ten year mark. If you are nearing this, or suffering from some of the symptoms above, or if you are about to start a new development which itself will increase demands on the ERP software, then you would be well advised to look at replacing your system now.Some other worrying signs you might want to look out for:
- There is no longer an upgrade path or updates being made for your particular ERP system
- The publisher’s / reseller’s salesmen do not visit or call as frequently as they used to
- You are on first name terms with your systems support team – and not in a good way
If you suffer from any of these worrying signs then the last thing you want to do is replace your ERP system and then find your systems outdated again. That’s why we have put together an easy guide to the steps you need to take when implementing a new future-proof system.