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You bought a shiny new ERP - Now what? (Part Two) To customise or not, that’s the question.

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You just bought a new ERP system and I hope that my previous blog convinced you of the value of an internal change agent to drive your project. A frequent issue I encountered in my consulting and implementation days was the urge to bend, twist and customise the software to match exactly how the business works today. Isn't each business unique? Surely we can't have software that fits hundreds if not thousands of businesses?

Protect your differentiation

Having implemented ERP solutions in a few enterprises, I discovered that most businesses have something specific that makes them successful. This something special can be two or three attributes like "reliable, always on time delivery", "outstanding quality", "great return policy", "fantastic customer service", etc.

Your differentiation is usually known within your business. So when choosing and implementing an ERP solution, it is essential to ensure that the new system will support the attributes that are making you successful. These attributes should under no circumstances be compromised by a new software, and it is here where customisations may be appropriate.

Just imagine if your "we always deliver on time" reputation is downgraded to "best effort" for a few months because of a new IT system. This could be extremely detrimental to your business as you are losing your competitive advantage. You may tell your clients that your new system is giving you problems, but honestly, they don't care. And as we all know, it takes a long time to build trust, but only a short time to destroy it.

Take a closer look at your business process

Everywhere else, I suggest that customisations should be avoided. At Pronto Software, I had a customer who decided to implement their ERP solution with a no-customisation policy. While challenging at times, it forced the team to dig deep and ask questions – to find out why a certain report was needed, why a process was performed, why some authorisation levels where required…

In most cases the solution was quite simple, upon closer look, the required customisation was created by legacy processes or needs that could be easily removed or replaced. A good example was an important weekly report that nobody really looked at anymore.

But there are a few cases where the solution is more tricky because it forced a change in human interactions. Removing an authorisation step in a purchase order approval sequence means that you give more trust to the people that are handling it. Sometimes these process changes are difficult but can be worthwhile as the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

Easier and faster access to innovation

The benefits of an ERP implementation with no or few customisations are huge. From an IT perspective, support, upgrades and training are easier. It will give you access to innovation and technology provided in new releases of your ERP solution without having to go through difficult upgrade and costly projects.


Paul Goepfert

Paul Goepfert

Paul Goepfert is the Marketing Manager for ERP vendor Pronto Software. @PaulGoepfert

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