Enterprise Resource Planning. It’s a term that has been in the manufacturing industry for more than 25 years, and it has become a key component of either competitive advantage or organizational strain. Enterprises that have remained anchored to decades-old, monolithic technologies are feeling the pain. However, ones that have adopted modern, cloud-based ERP are today realizing the benefits of innovation, flexibility, and speed across their manufacturing operations.

According to leading research firm Gartner, companies are redefining ERP to create business capabilities that enable and empower teams at the most granular levels. Instead of pushing you to leap to another new technology, however, composable ERP is a new approach to enabling your operations using elements of the ERP you already have.

And it’s on the radar of manufacturers. A recent Gartner study found that nearly three in four executives want to accelerate digital strategies to deal with constant disruption. To achieve such resilience and agility, the firm recommends a composable IT strategy.

But what does composable even mean? And, how can manufacturers realize the benefits of composable ERP? Let’s explore.

What does composable mean?

Everything is moving faster. You’ve been reading that for decades, and you’ll continue to read it for decades to come, especially as technologies and data continue to accelerate at this pace. This oft-repeated fact, however, forces manufacturers to constantly deal with change at nearly every level. To keep up, you must also make decisions quickly and adapt your operations to every new scenario.

To remain competitive, manufacturers need to quickly create, adjust, and extend their tools and solutions—in essence, compose new tools—to fit the needs of your operations today. And, then just as quickly, you may need to recreate, readjust, and reextend tomorrow to meet new unexpected demands. In other words, to achieve such agility, your organization must become a composable enterprise, creating a network of applications, data, and solution providers which work seamlessly together to fit any business need.

Drilling down, a composable enterprise is powered by business applications that are flexible enough to be reconfigured to whatever capabilities you need, when you need them. Here’s how Gartner’s model for the composable enterprise works:

  • To achieve new business capabilities (i.e., the business need),
  • You leverage applications and ecosystems (i.e., the people, processes, technologies, and data),
  • To build an experience (i.e., the use case),
  • Using a technology platform that can support the entire enterprise.

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What is composable ERP?

A composable enterprise can quickly and easily build and adjust applications to support needed capabilities. So then, composable ERP enables manufacturers to create, modify, and extend their ERP system to meet— with speed and agility— whatever dynamic needs they might have.

Composable ERP is not a new type of ERP, but a strategy to give you the power to change your ERP as your business needs change. That is the crux of composable: instead of a static, monolithic system, it’s a flexible, agile solution built for the needs of today’s changing business.

Gartner explains this shift to “ERP’s Fourth Era” as going from “built to last” and moving to “built to change.”

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How can composable ERP help?

Composable ERP can change as your business changes. When you identify new opportunities, you often need new capabilities. In this new model, you compose what you need when you need it. Here are a few examples of where composable ERP can help you quickly build custom apps for changing needs:

  • Take advantage of today’s APIs, cloud connectors, third-party apps, and modern enterprise technology platforms seamlessly so you can benefit from other solutions you already use or quickly extend by bringing on new solutions.
  • Democratize the power of ERP by enabling easy, low-code/no-code creation of applications for everyone inside and outside of operations, from Finance and HR to Sales and Marketing.
  • Build new mobile experiences to empower workers across the factory floor, warehouses or in the field.
  • Quickly enable new dashboards for visibility into any area of interest and at any level.

Gartner has written extensively about composable ERP. The research firm refers to the output as “application experiences,” which are essentially custom apps you build on your ERP. But what is critical is the foundation on which you create these application experiences. It must be flexible, stable, and capable of supporting the hundreds or thousands of application experiences your business requires.

How to Deploy Composable ERP

Manufacturers cannot just find a vendor and purchase composable ERP. Composable ERP is more of an approach and strategy versus an off-the-shelf solution. However, having the right ERP vendor on a flexible platform is required to support your composable ERP future.

Gartner guides on developing your own composable ERP strategy. The recommended steps include:

  1. Define the business outcomes.
  2. Define ERP.
  3. Define integration, data, and user experience strategies.
  4. Enhance skills.

In step 1, you identify the specific business capabilities you want, and the measurable improvements you desire, and by when. In step 2, you develop an ERP strategy around an ERP or business platform that enables you to achieve the goals set out in step 1. In step 3, you consider the existing and needed tools, points of integration, and the users themselves to guide the creation of the eventual application experiences required to achieve your goals. Finally, in step 4, you elevate your approach to focus on the data, whether from ERP or other systems, needed to empower your workers.

Rootstock for Composable ERP

Rootstock Cloud ERP was designed from the ground up to be a flexible manufacturing solution that drives agility across all operational areas. Being built on the Salesforce platform provides native integration with CRM, service, marketing, quote-to-cash, and other capabilities, both from Salesforce and its massive AppExchange. Rootstock Cloud ERP gives manufacturers a transformational platform to run everything from sales to customer service, engineering to production, supply chain to inventory.

Rootstock Cloud ERP also provides an ideal platform for an even more extensible composable ERP. Our wide range of software partners provides capabilities for accounting, quality, compliance, field service, and more. But, even more so, the low-code/no-code capabilities of Rootstock and the Salesforce Platform enables you to quickly, easily, and efficiently build the application experiences you need to respond to your business’ next unforeseen challenge.

To learn more about the composable ERP benefits of Rootstock Cloud ERP, request a personalized demonstration today.