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Implementing ERP successfully is about configuration, not customisation

6th April 2020,  Daniel Jones

As a species, we tend to be resistant to change, particularly in the way in which we go about our work. So for every business implementing an ERP solution, the principal aim is almost always to facilitate the same way of working as under the previous system. But which is more important – customising ERP, or configuring it in the first place?

Configuring ERP systems

If ERP is going to perform in the way that managers and employers hope, the system needs to be appropriately configured. Regardless as to which ERP system you decide on, they all have a huge array of possible settings, all of which need to configured in accordance with the aims of the business.

ERP configuration settings establish the defaults, as well as limiting possible transactions in a variety of helpful ways. For example, users can opt to either prevent or allow negative inventories, which isn’t always as straightforward as you might suppose. If negative inventory results in stopping an immediate transaction, it takes time and effort to identify and correct the inventory error before the transaction completes.

It’s important to keep in mind that one of the ERP analyst jobs that can’t be reversed is the initial configuration of the system. Although it’s usually possible to modify configuration choices as the business grows or changes, some settings will always result in default transactions, which will require manual intervention at some stage.

Customising ERP systems

To customise your ERP solution, you’ll need to make changes to the source code supplied by the ERP software developer. This automatically creates a more bespoke ERP, which is carefully aligned with your specific business model. This enables individual businesses to add features that they consider particularly important.

For example, some organisations might wish to know the exact time at which a production job was initiated, in which customising allows time stamps to be added. By adding date and time tables, it’s possible to track any changes made during production and log events taking place within the sales procedures. Yet this won’t in any way alter the inherent functionality of the ERP system.

The risks inherent in customising ERP

Although businesses can customise their ERP solution to ensure that it perfectly matches the needs of the organisation, there are a number of risk factors involved. And the first hurdle is finding someone with the necessary skills to create the new code. Not only do they need to understand how to write effective code, but they must also have an excellent understanding as to the impact that any changes will have on the original ERP system.

There are a number of validation rules that govern the customisation of ERP. These security protocols ensure that your valuable business data is protected and that it can be easily retrieved via reports or other alternative outputs. Failure to abide by these customisation rules could result in corrupted data, defeating the point of the exercise completely.

So it’s really important to keep in mind the best practices that have been used by the ERP developer in the first instance. ERP analyst jobs require employees to make only those changes that will add valuable features to the software, rather than potentially causing mayhem to inbuilt systems.

Customisation of ERP solutions can also quickly become a slippery slope. As the business grows and develops, some additional customisation will almost certainly be needed. And if it’s not performed correctly, the customisation process could invalidate your support package, putting the onus on your own developers to fix any damaged or unwanted code.

Configuring ERP is risk-free

In contrast, when configuring your ERP solution, your ERP team will use the software’s own native code. This means that you won’t upset the system in any way, regardless as to which configuration settings you choose, and your support licence will remain valid.

With ongoing support always available, your ERP will benefit from an upgrade path and the developers will always be on hand to deal with any problems or issues, which isn’t necessarily the case with customised ERP.

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