There’s an age-old question that will likely continue for many, many years… In buying your next, incredibly expensive ERP system, how much should we customize the system? First, some definitions:
Configuration – Highly configurable systems offer tools and options that provide numerous permutations to meet the functionality and process of your business. Normally, these configuration options are not impacted by upgrades since they are part of the core system.
Customizations – Customizations generally require coding. The inherit benefit is the customization provides functionality or process changes that not only closely match a company’s needs, but also contribute to its value proposition or allow it to compete better. The downside is the cost to customize and often the complexity of conflicts during an upgrade.
In talking with Plastic Manufacturing companies (it really is across extruders, molders, thermoformers, etc.), most talk about “wanting to stay as vanilla as possible.” But configurable, and staying “vanilla,” also means that some straightforward functionality and processes may take many more steps than a straightforward customization might allow. And, if you’re performing this with enough frequency by enough employees… well, you get the idea. The existing system might “handle” the requirement and process, but it certainly does not help productivity as one plods through this highly configurable but with too many seemingly unnecessary steps to complete some routine tasks.
The point is, the need for customizations is not just a question of whether the ERP system has the functionality or can accommodate your process which are important considerations. And, consider the change management considerations as employees struggle with the additional steps, options, and time often required with highly configurable solutions. Great goal (“vanilla” implementation), but this is not as simple as it might seem.
Microsoft’s Enterprise ERP System, now called Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, has historically been a highly configurable and easily customized system. For those taking advantage of this, it has meant generally painful upgrades or re-implementations when moving to the latest and greatest.
Fortunately, that’s changing with a new architecture intended to not just address this, but also usher in a new era of Digital Transformation where data and applications will reside anywhere and on any device. For more on this, see our previous blog post – Dynamics 365 for Operations: Overlayering Out, Extensions In… For Good