ERP Customization Help

By Neil Zawacki
Updated: September 13, 2011

Small businesses that adopt an ERP solution often find that they want to make changes to the software to meet their specific business requirements. This can be a somewhat difficult process since it increases the complexity of the code and may result in unforeseen complications.

Here are a few tips to help with your ERP customization:

1) Wait a few months before modifying the ERP solution.

You might be tempted to start your ERP customization immediately. It’s generally better to wait between one and three months before attempting to do so, however, so your employees have sufficient time to get to know the system and figure out any limitations that the system might have.

2) Define your business requirements.

ERP customization projects are notorious for their lack of direction. You should determine your specific goals at the outset and use that as a roadmap throughout the customization process. This will also help you when you are selecting the ERP solution for your company to use.

3) Make sure you have strong project controls.

You should set up an executive steering committee that will determine the specific changes that are needed to the ERP system. They can prioritize the most important modifications and run a cost-benefit analysis to determine which changes are simply too expensive to perform.

4) Limit your customization

The more you customize the ERP solution, the more problems you are likely to face. You will need to write up complex training manuals for everything and the code may contain hidden errors that reveal themselves at inopportune times. You should therefore try to use the standard ERP configurations whenever possible.

5) Document every single change that you make

You need your IT department to log every modification that they make, no matter how minor or inconsequential it might seem. This information will be vital when tracking down bugs within the system and you will need to know the changes if you want to make upgrades to the ERP solution.

6) Know the difference between ERP configuration and customization.

ERP configuration and customization are two different things. Configuring the ERP solution involves making standard changes to the parameters, workflows and fields. Customizing the ERP solution involves making changes to the actual code (and in some cases, rewriting huge portions of it). It could turn out that you only need to configure the solution in order to meet some company requirements.

7) Beware of runaway costs

If you’re not careful, the cost of the ERP customization could quickly spiral out of control. You might need to hire extra personnel to make the changes and ERP specialists to solve problems with implementation. Set a specific budget for the ERP customization project and make sure the team sticks it.

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