It’s been estimated that out-of-the-box, enterprise software will fulfil around 80% of a business’ needs. The other 20% can be overcome in a number of ways: adjusting the process to work around the missing capabilities, using other software to fill the gaps, or system customisation.
Depending on your needs, ERP software can be customised as lightly or as heavily as you like. But beware – this can end up being a big undertaking with significant knock-on effects down the line. There are a few things to bear in mind – particularly around Epicor customisation – before you go jumping in and start playing around with additional functionality and changing code.
Start with the process
When it comes to setting out requirements for an ERP system, we have seen many a document which essentially reads as a list of requests for shiny new features, bells and whistles. We always start an ERP implementation project with the question: what do you want to achieve? Once we dig into this question, more often than not the business will find that there is a much simpler solution to their problem – and it is usually a process change or remap. We have discussed in previous posts, that when you are so involved in the day-to-day, it can often be difficult to spot inefficiencies or opportunities for streamlining. After making adjustments at the process level, suddenly the need for heavy customisation has been reduced. This reduces spend on implementation and technical or functional consultancy time, makes sure that you are as efficient as possible straight out of the gate, and reduces reliance on heavily customised software to carry out core processes.
While there solutions in place to allow you to migrate customisations over from one version of ERP software to the next (the Cirrus toolset in the case of Epicor) – adding layers and layers of customisation can make maintaining, upgrading or migrating difficult further down the line. This is particularly challenging if you are migrating to a new system, and you may be painstakingly trying to recreate all of your customisations within new software. Heavy customisation may also cause conflicts with patches for your current system, which is obviously problematic.
The phased approach
We are a big proponent of the phased approach when it comes to ERP deployment. Spending upwards of 18 months on implementation project to roll out the system in a “big bang” style often has its issues, namely budget overspend, scope creep and the lack of demonstrable ROI for the wider business. Rolling out the system in stages can help with these challenges, but it can also help you address whether or not you need to customise the system to get where you need to be. By deploying it in small pockets and keep a close eye on results and productivity, you can gauge which parts of the system need to be amended to better meet your requirements, or where the process needs to be adjusted to map better to the new system. This gives you more control over the level of customisation, as well as helping you to identify for more opportunities for streamlining.
Customise with caution
All that being said, every business is different, and has different needs. No ERP system, however powerful and however much functionality and capability it has out of the box, will be able to completely fulfil every single business’ requirements. There may be some very special circumstances that unfortunately cannot be overcome with process redesign or the alternative routes we explore before getting our customisation toolkit out. In such cases, an experienced and knowledgeable consultancy team like ours can advise you on how and where to customise your ERP system in order to get where you need to be.
If you would like to discuss an upcoming ERP project, get in touch.