ERP systems, in recent times, function as the backbone of an enterprise. The move from manual to automation for the many processes covered by ERP improves efficiency, but decreases flexibility. ERP systems offer very limited customization and may be too rigid and too difficult to adapt to the specific workflow and business processes of some companies. In addition, as these systems are designed for enterprise-wide usage and focus on the big picture, small, niche or specific needs of certain functions are often unaddressed. These factors can result in end-user dissatisfaction, and in the long run, can have an impact on organizational performance
ERP end-users across industries have sought to bypass this problem and plug the functionality gaps of the ERP by utilizing End-User Computing (EUC) applications. As the name implies, EUC applications are designed, implemented and controlled by the end-user rather than the IT department. EUC has emerged as a vital component of the overall information resource in the organization, consuming typically somewhere between 25 and 40 percent of the total IT budget. The introduction of 4G languages and scripts has given a further impetus to its growth. It is now expanding even beyond the four walls of the organization, due to increasing mobility and wireless connectivity that allows end-users to create more EUC solutions.
End-users can respond quickly to the need for change in functionality due to changes in market conditions, product portfolio, as well as to regulatory and/or audit requirements. EUC solutions can be developed quickly, since the end-user controls the time schedule of the development, and usually utilizes his/her own time and budget, circumventing the need to wait for budgetary approvals and scheduling by the IT department.
However, there are significant risks that can result from an operational or financial reporting standpoint due to EUC. Firstly, since many EUC applications are developed by non-IT users, they are by definition not subject to the same development, monitoring or documentation, leading to unintentional errors. Secondly, there is the risk of data breaches and/or employee fraud. Third, scarce end-user resources (money or employee time) are diverted into developing these applications, taking them away from their strategic objectives. Finally, management usually has limited visibility into the various EUC applications being developed, leading to potential regulatory compliance violations. Other risks include operational impacts and losses due to errors, data redundancy and version control etc.
Organizations embracing EUC applications need to bear the following in mind:
- EUC in an organization should not be allowed to evolve by accident; in order to successfully
manage and control EUCs, a holistic enterprise-level strategy is necessary.
- Next, the Enterprise Architecture (EA) themes and patterns should be defined so that EUC
applications have some guidelines to follow.
When a holistic Enterprise Level EUC Strategy is defined, all the white spaces in the ERP from process automation perspective are identified, and EUC applications are designed in alignment with the overall IT Strategy resulting into operational efficiency.
Have you taken the first step towards bridging the gap between ERP and EUC?