A couple of weeks ago, a client came to me with a list of ideas they had to help streamline some things in the accounting part of their business. There were a few projects that could only be solved with Prophet 21 Business Rules. The client contacted Epicor for a quote on adding business rules to their implementation. After receiving the quote, the client sent me a one-line email:
“Is it worth it?”
A Quick Overview
Epicor has done a pretty admirable job of adding some pretty deep extensibility to the Prophet 21 ERP system. Prophet 21 Business Rules are a big part of that functionality. That said, the ability to affect the way Prophet 21 executes and processes data comes with a price. Most of the time, when a client prices out the cost of adding business rules, they get a little bit of sticker shock. What’s more, the cost doesn’t end there. Once you buy the add-on, you still have to develop the rules.
I have worked with some companies who physically could not operate their business on P21 without having rules. Other clients have no use for them at all. As with all technology investments, the answer is of course: “It Depends.”
What are Prophet 21 Business Rules For?
For distributors and other businesses on P21, technology should be there to support and accelerate your business processes. Prophet 21 Business Rules can help you get this done; however, the decision should not be taken lightly. My advice to this, and any client who has looked into business rules for Prophet 21, is that you need a solid plan for getting return on investment. The business rule add-on is not a feature, it is a path to advanced customization. Think of it like the foundation of your house. You cannot live in it, but you need it so that you can have a place to live.
My other advice to those considering this investment is not to think about getting ROI in a single project. That is usually not how it works. Most of the time, it requires several projects to recoup the cost of buying Prophet 21 Business Rules. For that reason, I recommend that companies have a clear plan for a series of projects, each of which will deliver cost savings or new efficiency that you can assign a value to.
The projects you want to focus on first will be those that help automate a repetitive or time-consuming process. You might also find that there is return to be gained from a project that prevents errors on a high-volume transaction. The amount of rework that can be eliminated by this can add up to substantial cost savings quickly. Finally, you may have a business process that doesn’t fit the way P21 works. Business rules can be used to build extensions of the P21 system to make your process fit into the system better.
Wrapping It Up
Bottom line, if you are considering Prophet 21 Business Rules, make sure you know how you are going to get return on the investment. It is a great part of the system. Used well, you can make P21 do some amazing stuff. I have been fortunate to work with clients who have moved their businesses forward in leaps using rules. They often help you solve those little nuances of your business that prevent you from getting the most from Prophet 21.
Make a list of things that are real issues for you with P21. When you make that list, do your best to assign a value to each issue. Once you find out if these issues are candidates to be solved with Prophet 21 business rules, it will be much easier to decide if you can justify the expense, and how long you can expect it will be to get your money back.