Customization is no better than standard implementation.

For many IT implementation processes, the adage is to apply as little customization as possible. Cost and time arguments are particularly important here. But often customization is more applicable and the better solution.

The first question is what you want to achieve with the ICT implementation? Is that simplifying processes and the related efficiency improvements, offering new products or services to your customers, improving chain collaboration or optimizing your ICT structure that threatens to become uncontrollable due to extensions and adjustments?

In this article I want to focus on realizing efficiency and effectiveness improvements, whereby the organization positions itself better within the chain and ultimately wants to serve its customers better. Matters such as better Time-to-Customer, lower costs and higher reliability apply.

After much deliberation, your organization decides to purchase a new ERP package, which manages your operational processes from end-to-end with the latest technology, including Cloud. This includes a good translation to your financial administration.

You draw up a complete business case together with your implementation partner. Analysis of your organization and processes. Determine objectives and implementation process. In the plan of approach it is agreed, from the point of view of manageability, costs and uniformity throughout your organization, to minimize the customization.

The viper is in the package. The current ERP packages are absolutely equipped with the most diverse features and possibilities. Few companies are able to get the most out of it. But is it correct and does it match your organization’s objectives?

Ultimately, you want to serve your customers as well as possible. However, the software you purchase is not written on your specific organisation, but an average package. It meets a certain standard approach, which is not necessarily the best for your organization or a good fit.

It is not uncommon for companies to see their service levels drop after implementing a standard package because the service that was previously provided and that your customers are familiar with suddenly becomes a lot more difficult. Your customers suddenly have to submit their request via a specific portal, where they previously had direct contact with your employees. Or the options in the old portal have suddenly been replaced by completely new ones.

The ‘coercion’ of the package requires that your business processes are aligned with the possibilities of the package. But that does not mean that your processes are optimally geared to the wishes and requirements of your customers. On the contrary. There is a good chance that your processes will become more distant and that your customers will experience as less flexible. That is the consequence of uniformity. This will not only frustrate your customers, but also your employees, who will try to work around the system.

So is it useful to go standard? Because the cost savings of the package, which often turn out to be much lower than in the business case, outweigh the drop in service, frustration among your customers and the workarounds [efficiency loss!] Among your employees?

And how often do you switch ERP packages? Not every 5 years. Earlier every 10 years. And after that period it is often wiser to purchase a completely new package. So don’t blindly focus on standard packages. Customization is also easy to manage, even with software upgrades. You pay more for the implementation, but then you have a package that is optimally tailored to your customers and the associated business processes.