‘Too often when upgrading legacy ERP systems, the baby gets thrown out with the bath water!’

Inigo Bridle shares his experiences, tips and watch-out’s from ERP upgrades in the paper industry, as both a customer and implementer of software services…


Upgrading a legacy Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is a huge decision for a company to take. It is usually necessary for one of two reasons:

  1. Organic growth of a company by merger or acquisition eventually leads to a situation where multiple ERPs can no longer be maintained or supported
  2. An in-house built ERP system no longer fulfils the necessary requirements in a modern business environment.

In both cases, the likely loss of business intelligence is a major cause of concern. The legacy ERP system provides a history of the relationship between the customer and the supplier and the significance of this loss of intelligence is often not appreciated by organisations or their software vendors.

The typical response…

Individual employees, who recognise the value of the data they could loose, start to build their own excel based databases, storing the data from the legacy system in their own structures. However, because this has not been carefully designed as part of the implementation, this individual approach causes confusion and misunderstanding across the company. Too often I have witnessed this ‘new world vs old world approach’ to upgrading software, it strikes me that the initial project goal, to improve the flow and quality of information gets lost in the process of delivering new functionality.

A different approach…

If your company has a vision for fully Integrated Business Planning (IBP), retention of your historical data is one of the most important building blocks. This history can provide so much background about the possible future demands from customers. Your IBP project should support your transition, capturing the historical data from the ERP system before an upgrade, and then combining the old with the new to give clear insights into trends, behaviours and seasonality. It is this intelligence will be used to plan the future of the enterprise, intelligence that will take years (literally) to recapture.