You have to differentiate yourself to gain a competitive edge. The modern landscape evolves rapidly and is becoming increasingly saturated. In this world, businesses that don’t make moves to stand out are likely to disappear into the crowd.
In the ERP software market, customisation has become important for success among forward-thinking businesses. There are many ERP solutions at your disposal, but you might find they can’t offer you exactly what you need from an out-of-the-box configuration. However, if the customisation process is not handled properly, the long-term viability of your ERP could be at risk. Compatibility with future software updates needs to be accounted for. It sounds daunting, and that causes some businesses to sidestep customisation and try to compete with a base installation.
The solution is planning. A carefully-managed ERP customisation mitigates risk while maximising the return on your investment by giving you exactly what you need and differentiating you from the crowd.
Understanding The Different Types of ERP Customisation
ERP customisations come in many forms, but they must be distinguished from configurations. There is a subtle yet substantial difference.
A configuration is a tweak to the settings of an out-of-the-box solution. They make small changes to things like custom fields, preferred units of measurement and access control. Generally, you choose these things before implementation begins (sometimes from a preset list of options). They don’t involve any alterations to the underlying architecture of the ERP.
Customisations, meanwhile, have a broader scope. They usually involve substantial modifications to the ERP’s code to make it a truly unique platform. A lot more work goes into customisations and there is virtually no margin for error. But if they are done right, customisations yield many benefits. Amongst the many types of ERP customisations, you will find:
- Documents and Forms: The format and content of invoices, order confirmation, delivery notes and more can be entirely bespoke.
- User Interface: Changes to the appearance of the UI based on your preferences.
- Modifications/Extensions: The source code of the system is changed to add or enhance features.
- Integrations: Connect third-party software to add to the core ERP.
Customisations should only be used where they are needed. Creating more of them will make the system become infinitely more complex and critical software updates may be harder and harder to install.
Customising MT (Multi-Tenant) SaaS ERP
SaaS ERP systems like NetSuite ERP usually come with frequent and simple upgrades. This brings new functions and features rapidly, leveraging the benefits of cloud computing. But the drawback is that customers are not allowed to customise the core system. Essentially, you limit your ability to customise in favour of easy access to vendor-delivered capabilities and various other benefits.
Newer systems offer the latest technologies and pleasing interfaces but you may encounter gaps in functionality. Fortunately, SaaS vendors often provide opportunities for low/no-code integration. This means new capabilities and subtle customisations are quite easy to implement – we call this Composable ERP.
Nevertheless, if you don’t handle the customisations right, you can end up with a mess of code attached to every periphery of the ERP suite. This can be hard to untangle. But with controlled customisations, you can make SaaS ERP work for the specific needs of your organisation. All that, and you still reap the benefits of easily updatable systems and user-friendly interfaces.
Key Considerations When Customising ERP
- Adopting new vendor releases consistently to take advantage of evolving technologies.
- Keeping user experiences front and centre. Value comes from enhancing experiences, not from simply adding new features just because you can.
- Democratising governance. Take a disciplined and democratic approach to customisations so that the whole organisation plays a role in deciding what customisations to add.
- Reorganising your IT and ensuring they have the tools they need. The role of IT may need to shift from controlling to advising as business functions become more self-reliant.
- Embracing change is important because it will happen frequently. Many customisations will have shorter lifespans as new vendor features keep arriving. Be disciplined enough to remove custom code when it becomes obsolete.
- Leveraging EAPs (enterprise application platforms) as they enable a flexible and composable application suite. Keep IT and support staff trained on tools for configurations and integrations.
- Take advantage of marketplaces to buy rather than build when that is the more logical option.
Customising On-premise ERP
Modern on-premises ERP suites are very flexible because customisation can delve deep into the core code. This can be very beneficial, but it can also be disastrous if something goes wrong.
Customisations can sometimes be incompatible with updates and upgrades. This can mean that, when an upgrade becomes available, many customers put it off to avoid the difficulty and expense. The problem with this is that systems will not be enhanced by vendor-delivered code and functional gaps may simply keep growing.
In the right hands, customising vendor-delivered code on an ongoing basis can overcome this challenge. The only problem is that it may get quite expensive. Discipline is required to stay on top of things, with the major advantage being that you have an ERP system that is fine-tuned to your unique needs. It requires a commitment to maintaining the customisations and modifying them to scale up and evolve as necessary.
If you are using on-premises ERP, here are some reasons why you should be considering customisations:
- Filling Functional Gaps: ERP suites almost always need to gain new features over time. Industry-specific functions are often needed as the needs of organisations are not met by the base ERP suite.
- Usability and Efficiency: If the user interface you have is not ideal for your needs, it can be frustrating and inefficient. This leads to a negative impact on productivity.
- Opportunities to Innovate: Customisations can create processes and capabilities that give you a competitive edge. In the right hands, they can provide you with unique intellectual property in the ERP landscape.
Emerging technologies and capabilities of ERP software are powerful ways to boost productivity. But you need to have the right ERP customisations plan in place to take advantage of them. Take the time to strategize effectively if you intend to implement ERP customisations. It is often beneficial to have expert insight from consultants and even use specialist ERP customisation services to get the best results.
Just because there is an option to customise your ERP software doesn’t mean it should be done. Take time to consider what elements of your ERP system aren’t delivering what you need and go from there.
Why choose Eventura as your ERP implementation partner?
Eventura has been providing robust business solutions to countless organisations for over two decades. We are ERP experts and can identify all of your business needs, and deliver a comprehensive ERP solution that works for you.
As Sage 200 Partners and NetSuite Solution Providers, we can help you identify which solution will fit your business needs the best. Our expert team of business analysts, developers, consultants, technicians and support staff can guide you through your entire project, from initial scoping through to implementation and on-going support.
We’re also managed IT service providers meaning we can help you identify your entire IT infrastructure requirements from day one. If you would like to speak to one of our ERP experts to discuss your options or request a free demo, you can request a free call back here.