How can you manage your ERP customization?

Date: July 08, 2016
By: Stephen Thomas

The following video of Illumiti VP of Consulting, Steve Thomas discusses how to manage your ERP customizations.

Video Transcript

In the world of best practices of ERP implementations the objective is to achieve most of your business objectives through implementing pre-configured or pre-anticipated scenarios that your partner has anticipated you'll need and has built a solution for that. There are often cases where your needs go beyond that, where you will have something unique to your organization that delivers specific competitive differentiation and where you need to move beyond the basic solution. There are several proven strategies for doing that without getting into long-term total cost of ownership issues.

First and foremost, it's important to understand the philosophy of an ERP solution.  Understand how it looks at a particular business process and how the software vendor and your partner have considered how to move forward. Once you understand that philosophy, you can customize within the framework of that philosophy. In many cases, the software solution particularly SAP can surprise you with just how many configurable options there are to tweak or change parameters in the solution without any code to adapt to unique situations.

If that's insufficient, strong ERP solutions such as SAP will provide leans to inject small bits of custom code, small bits where the software vendor anticipated you'll have unique requirements. Pricing rules are an example or managing a distribution network and understanding which products shipped from which locations under unique circumstances.  In these kinds of cases, hopefully the software vendor has provided a specific point in the code where you can add little bits of custom logic without having any impact on the future upgrade ability of the software and total cost of ownership.

Finally, if that's not enough and if you have some totally unique processes, for an example a situation where two or three steps that the software package normally assumes are actually executed by your organization in one step in a highly efficient manner.  What we strongly advise, rather than trying to modify the solution or trying to change it to mirror you, you can create a custom front end to all of that, a custom interaction for the user where in behind the scenes it's calling the standard ERP functionality. This way you're staying true to the basic philosophy but making the whole process more efficient. Staying true to the whole philosophy, your total cost of ownership stays lower because  you are fairly well certain that process is going to work .

At the end of the day, when the standard solution isn't sufficient and doesn't meet your needs:

  • Understand the philosophy of the software product
  • Look to privatization or changing configuration options
  • Look to specific little call outs and specific additions of business logic that are upgrade dependent
  • Custom front in the behind the scenes call the standard functionality

Related Topics

Why leveraging Geoffrey Moore’s categorization of process is critical?

Why do some ERP implementations fail?

Deciding What to Change is Key to Successful ERP Implementations

About the Author

Stephen Thomas

A graduate of the University of Waterloo, Stephen is a senior consulting executive with more than 20 years of SAP software implementation experience across a diverse range of industries including high tech, chemicals, commodities, mining, Mill and EC&O.

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