How to avoid customer-specific customizations to your ERP solution

Customer-specific customizations to ERP software are losing ground. They are complicated, expensive and often a burden in the future. What can you do to avoid customer-specific customizations as much as possible?

1. Choose a proven successful industry-specific ERP solution

The better the ERP system suits your company, the less need for customization. With a generic, widely applicable system you will miss important functionalities that are important in your industry. Therefore, choose an industry-specific ERP solution that has been successfully used for many years by similar organizations in your industry. Although your organization will of course always have unique requirements and wishes with regard to the software, you can assume with an industry-specific ERP system that the most important needs are met.

2. Consider customization as your last solution

Too often and too quickly, customizations are considered the solution for a missing piece of functionality. Sometimes prompted by the software supplier, who sees customizations as a great opportunity to spend extra hours and increase the customer's dependence on them. It is much better to consider customizations as the ultimate solution. Try to work without the functionality, change the process or working method, try it with a work-around, find an external application that meets most requirements; just a few alternatives that you should try before you start developing customizations.

3. Acknowledge the downsides of customizations

Customizations are still attractive to many people. Getting exactly what you ask for, perfect, right? Maybe for a while, but certainly not in the long run. A few disadvantages of customizations:

  • Customizations are expensive to develop: The design, development, testing, implementation and training of customizations are expensive. A small piece of functionality can require many hours of work before it is ready to use.
  • Customizations delay the project: If you deviate from the standard during the implementation, you will delay the project. Developing customer-specific functionalities can delay an ERP implementation easily for several months.
  • Support on customer-specific features can be a problem: When it comes to support for a standard system, the documentation is complete, the knowledge is available to many people and a solution can be found quickly. With customizations, this is often a lot more difficult.
  • Upgrades are made more complicated with customizations: With every upgrade, the customizations are an extra point of attention. You need to accurately map out how the customizations are transferred to the new version of the system.
  • Customizations jeopardize continuity: For example, when the custom solution communicates with other applications, will this continue to work well when new versions of these external applications are released? And what about changes in hardware, operating systems and internet browsers?

"Sometimes change is good, in fact, sometimes change is necessary."

4. Pay attention to change management

A common reason for opting for customer-specific development is to continue to work in the same way as in the past (“that's how we've always done it, so also in the new system”). While that should absolutely not be a reason! Sometimes change is good, in fact, sometimes change is necessary. New processes, a new way of working. Because times change and systems change too. As long as you get the desired outcome/result. Sufficient attention must therefore be paid to change management. It is not always easy to accept a new way of working. Support employees in this, show empathy and give them time, so that they will see the change as an improvement.

5. Ensure tight project management from start to finish

A clear scope of the project with various milestones, clear agreements and responsibilities also helps to limit customizations. Tight project management leaves little room for new features as part of the project. When you loosen the reins, there is a good chance that many attempts will follow to change the scope, to add new topics to the project and to extend the project limitlessly. So take control of the project from start to finish. That means a clear scope, tight planning and continuous monitoring.