Determining Whether to Customize ERP
The early days of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software were arduous and expensive for manufacturers and distributors. Only large corporations could afford to dish out millions for a fully-customized software solution. All these customizations created scope creep, contributed to budget overruns and added complexity to ERP projects.
Fortunately, times have changed. Modern ERP solutions provide agile functionality that simplifies implementations and meets manufacturing and distribution needs. But that doesn’t mean custom software solutions have completely disappeared. After all, every business is different. While an out-of-the-box implementation will ideally cover about 90% of your requirements, you might have to modify the base code to address the remaining 10%. Plus, changes will have to be made to your software as your business develops.
Nobody should invest a fortune in a home-grown ERP solution, but to gain a system that supports your unique processes, you’ll have to determine the best way to approach customization. Below, we provide our tips to help you determine whether or not you should pursue ERP customization.
Other Options Won’t Work
ERP customization isn’t something you rush into—it’s a last resort if nothing else will work. Customization comes with a set of risks, such as costly errors and project delays. Therefore, it’s advised to look at other options before you touch the base code. If you’ve selected the right ERP solution, you shouldn’t have to undergo too many modifications anyway. Epicor, a leading ERP vendor, provides a wide range of modules to support core manufacturing and distribution processes. It also includes features designed for specific verticals, such as aerospace and medical device manufacturing.
Additionally, modern ERP solutions are designed to adhere to business best practices. Rather than fully customize your system to align with each of your processes, you might want to adjust some of your operations to align with the ERP. Undergo business process modeling to map out your current workflows. This task will help you uncover current inefficiencies that your ERP could smooth over. Adjusting some of your practices to your software will not only cut down on customization costs but also lead to major business improvements.
Another option is to undergo configurations. Configurations allow you to set up fields and workflows without coding. Epicor is an immensely configurable solution that lets you easily make significant modifications, giving your business flexibility. However, after weighing all these options, you might still find that customization is necessary to support mission critical tasks or give your company a competitive advantage. If that’s the case, a customization is a wise decision.
It Adds Value to Your Business
Any IT project your organization undertakes should be intended to deliver improvements, solve current issues or give your business a competitive edge. For example, you might want to elevate your customer experience through implementing web-based self-service portals. By expanding your reporting capabilities, you can gain greater visibility to simplify compliance or expand insights. Embarking on the right ERP customizations could take your company to the next level.
But anything that doesn’t contribute to your company’s bottom line should be nixed from your technology roadmap. Before embarking on your customization, make sure that it’s truly adding value to your business. Perform a cost-benefit analysis, and discuss the initiative with your project team and stakeholders. Ultimately, just because you can customize something doesn’t mean you should. Adhere closely to your business goals throughout your software’s lifetime.
Inefficiencies Continue After Go Live
In many cases, customization isn’t necessary in the initial ERP implementation. In fact, foregoing customizations will help you reach the go-live date faster and at a lower price. Once your solution is deployed, you can take on necessary customizations whenever your company wants. Since no ERP can meet all your unique needs out of the box and your company will undergo changes, there’s a strong possibility you’ll require some form of customization down the line.
A tell-tale sign that it’s time to modify your software is when you notice ongoing inefficiencies. The purpose of ERP is to enhance productivity, so if you find some processes are still taking longer than desired or require tedious workarounds, locate the source of the issue and make whatever changes you need. Since the software offers a wealth of metrics, you should be able to easily identify the root causes of problems and seek out effective solutions.
Maybe some of your users are still having trouble getting accustomed with the system. If that’s the case, further training might be the right approach. But if the problem is with the software itself, don’t be afraid to perform customizations, so you can see all the improvements you expect from your ERP solution.
ERP customization isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. When it comes to aligning software with business goals, customization should be your last resort. However, customization also shouldn’t be feared. If you’ve taken a thoughtful approach to implementing and improving your software, you can feel confident that your customization will add value to your enterprise.
Datix, an Epicor Gold Partner, has helped manufacturers and distributors through every stage of their ERP journeys for over 20 years. From out-of-the-box implementations to custom software solutions, our certified consultants have done it all. We understand manufacturing and distribution practices and know how to bring your operations and your software in line.
Let our experts work with you from start to finish to transform your business through software. Contact Datix today to learn more about our ERP customizations and solutions!