ERP Today recently ran a brief editorial insight entitled ERP at the Center of Sustainability and Human Impact which caught my eye because ERP is generally not at the center of anything that is not manufacturing but yet should be at the center of sustainability data because it’s the ONE system that should be accessed, or at least be accessible, organization wide. However, in most organizations, all it stores is the manufacturing / order data, purchase orders, and invoices.
The article states that, within some organizations, they are providing the financial clarity to drive meaningful environmental and human impacts, however it only lists TWO (2) (Blue Marine Foundation and Oracle), and the doctor‘s experience, which is similar to other analysts he’s worked with, is that, for the vast majority of companies, this is JUST not happening.
Why? A few reasons, but the main ones are:
- most ERPs don’t store complete financials; they’ll store POs and Inventory, but the complete financials will be in the organization’s AP/I2P/P2P systems
- most ERP’s don’t store/calculate ANY sustainability data and
- most ERP’s weren’t/aren’t configured to store ANY sustainability data
This means that, for an ERP system to provide financial clarity around meaningful environmental and human impacts, an organization needs to
- integrate it’s accounting systems with the ERP and push all invoices and payments into the ERP
- get subscriptions to third parties with the sustainability data and push that into the ERP after
- updating the ERP configuration to store all of the relevant data around sustainability and responsibility that the organization wants to track
And while this will be doable with most modern ERPs, it could be expensive and force an organization to use another platform, such as a modern SRM (Supplier Relationship Management) platform as its core sustainability and responsibility platform instead. But it would be nice if the ERP could be the one platform that at least stores all of the organization’s golden records, because data warehouse, lakes, and lakehouses aren’t the answer (as all they do is duplicate data and make it harder to find the single source of truth) — the answer is a central source of sustainability and responsibility data that is, or could be, accessible organization wide so everyone can know the impacts of their (financial/supply) decisions. And while it could be the ERP, given the sheer cost of any customization work on any of the big ERPs, the doctor doesn’t think it’s very likely.