Why customize your ERP?
You might think that your needs are fairly close to everyone else’s, and you don’t really need customized ERP software. However, Generic approaches miss both simplifications and extra depth specific to your way of doing business. Customization puts you and your staff at the heart of the system.
Large companies have long understood the benefits of customizing their software and spend millions to acheive this goal. What’s new with Revelate is that this level of service is made affordable for small and medium sized companies.
Simple screens that talk your language
When the same piece of software is sold to many clients it needs to cater to many different needs. Not necessarily vastly different needs, but different enough that an extra field here, and an extra field there soon adds up to many more fields. This is why most ERP software screens have many fields you don’t understand, and the one’s that are meaningful to you are dispersed across multiple tabs.
Accomplish a single task in one screen
For example: Some companies have a single person doing payment processing, order fulfillment and packaging as a single continuous task. Other companies have 3 people each doing one of the steps. To be as general as possible, typical ERP software will match the second case. The staff in our first case will end up juggling 3 different screens.
Implicit things in your business should be implicit in the software
When a customer orders your “Premium product with full service package” you’d really like your system to figure out for itself that:
- A consultant will need to be available for 3 days starting the day after the product is delivered
- The delivery company will need a reservation a week ahead of time
- You should pick a consultant based near to the customer or make sure the 3 consulting days aren’t split by a weekend
- The consultant should have been trained on this type of product
More typically you’ll have to manage the various bookings yourself, mentally simulating the consequences and side effects.
No brick walls
Sooner or later, you’ll come across a situation that falls outside the bounds of the software. You’ll recognize this as:
- A missing date, number or checkbox field
- The need for 2 or more fields where only one exists
- The ability to link 2 records in a relationship unknown to the software
As it cannot be handled properly you’ll place the information into a “notes” field, which will “work” until a few months down the road you need to produce a report. This is when excel spreadsheets start appearing to keep track of things.
But other ERP systems claim to be customizable!?
Being fully customizable implies complete flexibility on defining:
- The screens and workflows
- The data model
- The reports
Typical ERP software only makes a half-hearted attempt at 1. and 2. You might be able to add or remove existing fields from a screen, and there might be a couple of “spare” notes fields to be put extra data in.
Custom printed reports are fairly common and make for a good sales pitch. However, nice looking reports are only worth as much as the data they’re based on. Reliable data will be hard to come by if the software’s screen and workflow don’t match your processes. You might also want to inquire about the typical cost of a customized report.