The words configuration and customization can be equally challenging to understand. As related to ERP software - the challenge comes from the fact that every software company builds and defines their software a little differently.
Configuration typically refers to the ability of a software to natively perform a certain function. A general way to think about customization is building, coding or modifying something within the software that didn’t originally exist.
When selecting ERP software, an important goal is finding software that than be “configured” to meet most of the needs of your company. There are determining factors in assessing configuration, i.e. identifying the software that can best meet the requirements you’ve defined.
Here are some helpful points to keep in mind about configuration that we’ve discovered as independent ERP consultants:
After reviewing these points, you have a better appreciation of why software configuration and customization aren’t as clear cut as one might expect. The takeaway is sometimes the promise of a configuration really needs to be a customization, or worse, perhaps the wrong software was selected. At Third Stage Consulting, we’re of the belief that customizations should be reserved for the most unique differentiators of your business.
As this blog points out, it’s not always that cut and dry. Even if your ERP business requirements are complete and validated (and most are not), you are at a disadvantage when trying to understand the capabilities of new software i.e., what is truly configurable in a way that would work well for your organization.
As this video points out, ERP software best practices and out-of-the-box configuration need to be balanced with the tension to further customize the software:
We’ve been called to help customers trying to save derailed implementations because the software was “configured” but wasn’t performing in a way the company could live with. We’ve also been hired to address customizations that didn’t work out as expected. These issues should have been flushed out during ERP software testing - Unit, System, Integration, User Acceptance, etc. but were not.
Part of the struggle between configuration and customization comes down to understanding the wide range of software options available in the marketplace. Identifying which of the top ERP systems best fit the defined needs of an organization is a critical factor in why businesses require expert assistance to choose an ERP system.
We have seen the aftermath of ERP projects where organizations who implement systems that are not well-suited to their business will pay more, take longer, and receive less benefit from the system. Often this is not discovered until an initiative is overbudget and well into an implementation.
Let the unbiased resources at Third Stage Consulting have the ERP configuration vs. customization conversation with you. We are here to help educate you on this and all things ERP related.
Please contact us to arrange a time to brainstorm with one of our consultants. We are happy to help in your digital transformation journey!