Are modified ERP systems holding aerospace and defense companies back?

Profile picture for user Edward Talerico By Edward Talerico July 13, 2015
Summary:
Highly modified ERP systems in aerospace and defense may no longer be responsive and agile enough for today's business needs, writes Infor's Edward Talerico

Fighter jets in tricolor display formation © Enzoart - Fotolia.com
The aerospace and defense (A&D) industry is known for breakthrough technology advances in aviation, space exploration, and weaponry. However, the same pioneering attitude doesn’t always show up in their internal IT departments. The companies that manufacture, supply, and service some of the most remarkable high tech equipment in the world often run their own internal processes on outdated ERP systems that have been heavily modified.

A&D manufacturers originally viewed these high levels of customization as a benefit of their ERP systems, enabling them to support highly differentiated business processes that suited their very specialized operations. This was once of significant value to the business, but in recent years, changing market pressures and expectations have demanded additional flexibility from A&D companies.

An accumulation of complex modifications now represents a challenge for IT departments, as it creates a barrier to change. It creates complexity that makes it difficult for A&D companies to perform upgrades, enhancements, and add-ons to these mission critical systems as they strive to keep up with the speed of business.

Nowadays, the idea of “best practices” has become much more iterative than it was in the past. Something that may have previously been a best practice can become outdated today, and the old, modified ERP system may not be responsive and agile enough to keep up with newly emerging requirements.

Head to the cloud

For many of these companies, the quickest way out of the modified ERP system quagmire is to head to the cloud. Cloud-based ERP systems can help A&D companies meet changing customer expectations, increasingly stringent compliance mandates, and their need to control costs and complexity to remain competitive, despite increasing market pressures.

In “Ten Ways Cloud Computing Is Revolutionizing Aerospace and Defense,” Forbes contributor Louis Columbus describes where the industry is heading. He explains how the cloud has become “a viable option” in helping A&D companies reinvent the way they approach operations, workflows, and information sharing. Other benefits, according to the article, include:

  • Enhancing mobile device management beyond dashboard support for smartphones and tablets can help product design and managing production.
  • Better collaboration, at lower costs, with a more enterprise-wide approach to managing information systems helps break down functional and service-unique barriers.
  • Automating MRO workflows using cloud-based systems that include mobility support helps reduce inventory levels and increase service levels.

Cloud deployed ERP systems are designed to remain adaptable to change and are operated by the provider in a way that allows them to be continuously enhanced with the latest innovations. When built for a specific industry such as aerospace & defense, they already include many of the specialized capabilities that the industry requires, while allowing for extensive configuration of those capabilities to meet specific business requirements. In this way, they take the benefits of modified ERP systems and enhance them.

With a cloud deployed ERP system, A&D companies can still manage their data and configure the business process their distinctive business approach requires. Plus, they can do all of this more quickly and flexibly — while being able to more easily approach new markets take advantage of whatever the latest best practices may be.

Image credit: Fighter jets in tricolor display formation © Enzoart - Fotolia.com.