Healthcare Implementation

Legacy ERP Systems: Maintain, Rebuild or Replace?


A picture of an obsolete computer system.

The concept behind an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is not a new one: ERPs have been around in some form or fashion for the past 60 years. Of course, over this time, the software and systems behind ERPs have become much more powerful and functional, enabling clients and customers to make better decisions, save time, and ultimately increase their management capacities.

However, this rapid technological evolution can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, staff and management can become comfortable with a system, understanding how it works and building upon it to ensure that they can use it to maximize their needs. On the other hand, newer systems may be better able to fulfill these needs, even if they are more expensive. Ultimately, hospitals and healthcare networks have to make a difficult choice: How should they manage these older, legacy systems? Should they maintain, rebuild, or replace them?

 

Maintain: Pros and Cons

You can reap numerous potential benefits if you opt to maintain your current system. These benefits include:

  • Minimizing the amount of staff training and retraining that you need to do.
  • Ensuring that your organization will continue to be able to use the same workflow and processes that you have already developed and likely optimized, thus enhancing your overall efficiency.
  • Avoiding the significant expense of rebuilding or purchasing a brand-new ERP.

Of course, this decision is also risky:

  • You risk losing access to a variety of technological improvements that can enhance the ability of your healthcare organization or hospital to care for patients and save money.
  • You risk having an out-of-date system that may not smoothly interact with computers out of your network.
  • You risk having employees, staff, or other talent think your company doesn't invest in itself. If this is replicated across your organization, you could see your lack of investment in an ERP negatively impacting employee recruitment and retention efforts.
  • If you don't have appropriate technological efficiencies, you may lose the opportunity to save money. 
  • Depending on the age of your system, information may be unnecessarily restricted. This means that you may struggle to share information between departments.
  • Many healthcare ERPs are specifically built with regulatory and HIPAA compliancein mind. If your system is created in such a way, it ensures that your system easily works around HIPAA requirements and still allows you and your team to gain access to the information you need. Violating HIPAA is a major problem for any healthcare company, and your organization needs the right technological tools to comply with HIPAA requirements.

 

Rebuild: Pros and Cons

Maintaining a system may not be possible, but buying a brand-new one may not be within your budget. A possible alternative here is to rebuild that system. Your organization will use the same basic platform but rebuild it to meet your new needs. This approach posits many possible benefits, including:

  • Rebuilding a system will reduce your staff, workflows, and training burden.
  • It allows a system to be recreated and reworked, giving you control over what you want to improve, modify, or delete.
  • Scalability may be possible if you rebuild a system. For example, a rebuild may allow for the addition of users, functions, departments, and more. This will ensure you have a chance to completely improve a system that better suits your expanded organizational needs.

Of course, it also has numerous negatives, such as:

  • If the base system fails to meet your needs, the platform may not be sustainable. A rebuild may help eliminate some problems, but it will not change the fact that the core platform is simply incapable of meeting your healthcare organization's needs.
  • Despite your desire to save money, you may still ultimately spend an expensive amount on rebuilding a system.
  • Rebuilding a system manages to incorporate many of the worst aspects of training: It requires extensive retraining but may not give you as much system improvement as you desire. As such, you may find yourself in an "unhappy" medium.
  • If your current system is unsupported by tech or IT experts, you may run into IT-related issues that simply cannot be solved. As a result, you will lose extensive functionality within your current system.
  • If a system has holes in it — such as cybersecurity gaps— then you simply may not be able to address those holes with a rebuild. Sometimes it is easier and preferable to completely replace a system, enabling your business to start from scratch and get a better system suited to fit your needs.

 

Replace: Pros and Cons

The most expensive option is a complete ERP replacement. The decision about replacing an ERP should not be taken lightly, as there are numerous challenges associated with this selection. However, in many cases, it can best fit your needs.

On the plus side, replacing a system allows you to:

  • Get a completely upgraded and updated system to meet modern challenges, laws, and regulations. With a new system, you can purchase software that is up-to-date in terms of its financials, accounting, and more. Buying a new system virtually guarantees you can purchase one that best suits your needs.
  • Buying a brand-new system means buying an up-to-date system. ERP has improved extensively over time, and a variety of new ERP functions have become available, as have ERP programs that are exclusive to the hospital industry. As such, buying a new ERP gives you access to features that would not have been possible if you replaced or rebuilt your existing ERP system.
  • Workflows have also changed extensively over time. A new ERP system may help you create reports, monitor workflows, and improve employee efficiencies in a manner that you did not have with your older ERP systems.
  • These improved workflows may result in better accuracy across the entire healthcare system, serving everyone from accounting to patient care.

Of course, there are also many negatives here. Potential negatives and challenges include:

  • New ERP systems can be expensive. There are ways to reduce this cost — like negotiations, finding the right vendors, and purchasing only the services you need. A proper analysis of what systems you'll use can make the cost more manageable. Furthermore, you should look at an ERP system not as a cost but as an investment. This perspective ensures you are not just imagining yourself throwing money out the window but actually investing in your business with the belief that a well-functioning ERP will give you what you need at a later date.
  • A new ERP may require extensive staff training. This training will allow your staff to become experts in how a program works and ensure they get the most out of the program. This process can be time-consuming, but again, it should be viewed as an investment.

 

There is no question about it: The decision to maintain, rebuild or replace your ERP can be challenging. What is right for one organization may not be right for another. However, if you have an older ERP with service and compliance challenges, the odds are good that you will benefit from completely replacing it. In that instance, consider an ERP offered by Multiview Financial Services. Our ERP is explicitly built for healthcare organizations like yours. With more than 250 clients in all 50 states, we have the expertise and experience to ensure that your healthcare organization can get a customized ERP that fits your needs.

Ready for more information? Contact us today to request a demo, and let us show you how the Multiview Healthcare ERP can fit your needs.

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