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Why customizing ERP software is usually a bad idea

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To get the functions and flexibility that support your organization’s competitive edge, try these five solutions first, before customizing ERP as a last resort.

 Any reputable consultant, and anyone with experience using or supporting packaged ERP software, can tell you that customizing ERP is a very bad idea for several reasons.

  • Custom code is a lot more expensive to build and maintain than packaged software.
  • The required development time delays the the time-to-benefit for users.
  • Unlike packaged software suites, custom code will only address perceived current needs, with no additional functionality for growth for as-yet-unidentified future needs.
  • Modifications to a packaged system threaten the reliability of the vendor’s system and invalidate any claims to integrity and auditability the vendor may have provided.
  • Most importantly, modifications make continuing the support and upgrade process difficult and expensive.

Given all of the above, why do companies still persist in customizing ERP systems? The simple answer is that they have determined that the package does not meet their needs, and these additional functions or altered capabilities are necessary and cost-justifiable.

Considering the highly competitive nature of the ERP software market, and the decades of development by many hundreds of software vendors, one might think that all possible functionality would be out there and available. And that’s mostly true.

Today’s ERP has more functionality and flexibility than any company could possibly use. But that, in itself, presents another problem. Tailoring the system (and altering that tailoring as needs change) can be challenging — but not nearly as difficult or expensive as custom modifications.

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