If you’ve been on the hunt for an ERP system in the last few years or simply work in the IT industry, you’ll have heard the buzzword “postmodern” floating around. Gone are the days of the traditional legacy ERP; the future belongs to agility. It belongs to flexibility and the ability to upgrade parts rather than the whole. It belongs to the postmodern ERP.
Traditionally, ERP software consisted of gigantic monolithic systems that generally adhered to a “one size fits all” policy. These software packages would be run by medium to large-sized businesses (i.e. manufacturing, distribution, construction companies) and would manage the core aspect of each business’s industry.
ERPs have come under some criticism in recent years and we understand why. Brand name vendors have been selling old software with deceptively new interfaces. They’ve been grossly exceeding budgets during implementation. They’ve been supplying businesses with ERP systems that not only fail to work, but that cost companies a small fortune. All of this combined has given ERPs a bad name.
But all is not lost. There are a number of boutique firms out there who are listening to the needs of their customers. They’re taking on the challenge of creating something new and innovative and the result is a direct response to the inflexibility of traditional monolithic ERPs. And Reflex is one of these companies.
Image courtesy of SoftwareAdvice.com
Termed by Gartner in 2014, the postmodern ERP is the answer for businesses looking for software that can adapt, change, grow, and be updated—all while meeting the various needs of a business’s industry. There are many different kinds of postmodern ERPs and different levels of deployment and structure, depending on where you’re looking. Gartner argues that postmodern ERPs are hybrids, based on “A technology strategy that integrates a set of business functions, such as finance, HR and purchasing, with operational aspects, such as manufacturing or distribution, through tight linkages from operational business transactions to financial records.” 
But what does that really mean? Essentially, postmodern ERPs offer a variety of moving parts, all of which can be tightly integrated depending on what functionality is required by the client. Forrest Burnson states in an article on Software Advice, “The goal of a postmodern ERP strategy is to use the best applications possible in each particular area, while ensuring they adequately integrate with each other when necessary.” 
So, instead of a full one-size-fits-all solution, with parts that might not even apply to your company’s business, you can now select a solution comprised of exactly what you need, each part of which can be removed or exchanged or replaced or updated whenever the need arises.
The best analogy I’ve seen compares ERPs to cars: a traditional legacy ERP is like buying a brand-new car every 10 years.  Give it some time and it becomes dated, old, increasingly dysfunctional, and will eventually break down. You have no choice but to replace it. A postmodern ERP, on the other hand, is like buying a brand-new car that allows you to replace each of its parts as time goes on. This way, the car remains modern and well-functioning, and can continue to be a top-of-the-line model even decades down the road.
This was the goal we had in mind when we fully rewrote our Reflex ERP software, which we went to market with in 2010—four years before Gartner even coined the term “postmodern.” After decades of working in the software and ERP industry, Reflex’s founders chose a new strategy, one that focused on long-term agility rather than a one-size-fits-all mentality.
It was a huge investment and, for a good chunk of time, our offices focused solely on software development. The result of years of hard work was a postmodern ERP that offered operational functionality alongside administrative functionality in such a way as to give customers everything they could possibly need in a software solution, while also providing the flexibility so often missed in traditional ERP systems.
What does that mean, exactly? Reflex comes with a number of different functions for operational or administrative management. Depending on your industry, you can select the ones that your organization needs. For example, a construction company might select all the construction features, financial management, and HR. Want to add field services later on? No problem. We spent years developing a software solution that was both agile and fully integrated.
We made sure, of course, to address the complexity issue. In his description of postmodern ERP, Burnson states that “a postmodern ERP system will likely be comprised of applications from two or more vendors, and may include multiple deployment models.”  If a postmodern ERP involves more than one vendor, it can increase the complexity not only for implementing the system, but for ensuring that everything is integrated or connected enough for the software to function at full capacity. For Reflex, this is not the case. We worked with industry experts to build everything ourselves from scratch, so that our customers deal with one vendor and one solution—just like the days of traditional ERPs, except with the ability to grow and change like never before.
This is, in fact, one of the downfalls of other postmodern ERPs, according to Gartner Research Director Denise Ganly. She states that “Most organisations aren’t prepared to manage multiple vendors and sourcing strategies,” and that “This alone increases complexity.”  Olga Annenko states in an article on Elastic.io that “postmodern ERP, while bringing a substantial amount of flexibility, often comes with complex integration requirements and most likely multiple vendors to manage.”  Implementing a connected solution from multiple vendors can certainly be a risk, which is why we chose to eliminate this risk by offering all moving parts ourselves under the Reflex brand.
Based on our research on postmodern ERP systems, we’ve found a few determining factors that qualify an ERP system as “postmodern”:
There is still a core ERP with administrative functionality.
The core ERP can be hosted on-premise or as a cloud solution.
The core ERP can be extended with specialist solutions that cater to industry.
These specialist solutions are fully integrated to the ERP and can be added or changed at the whim of the customer.
Continuous product improvement and innovation based on industry trends, customer feedback, and technological advancements.
Agility and flexibility are at the core strategy of the postmodern ERP.
A postmodern ERP may offer hybrid deployment, with part of the system deployed on-premise and some functions available on the cloud.
One of the added benefits of Reflex as a postmodern ERP is also one of the key features other software packages are rushing to develop and offer: in-memory computing (IMC). According to Ganly, “The real future of ERP lies in [IMC]. It breaks down the wall between ERP and business intelligence…Postmodern ERP using IMC will be a key technology enabler in digital business because organisations will be able to react to business moments in near real time by identifying their potential impact on strategic business objectives.” 
Not only does Reflex offer an agile solution in response to the legacy ERPs of old, we’re also proud to offer cutting edge IMC with built-in real-time business intelligence and analytics. Thanks to our decision to start fresh and create something different, we now offer one of the most functional, flexible, and technologically advanced postmodern ERPs in the marketplace.
With technology, the opportunities are endless. We’re excited to continue growing and developing our Reflex software so that we continue to remain at the forefront of innovative business software solutions.