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Resist the temptation of the specific development in the ERP

By Jean-Baptiste Sachot, 11:30 AM on November 3, 2016

Your business is unique, as is its organisation. So you think that it's impossible to function without a custom ERP system. Don't be so sure. Let us explain why you should avoid specific developments.


Standard or custom ERP? The choice of ERP software is not made overnight, it involves much soul-searching. Start by making a list of must-have features for you business as opposed to those that it would be nice to have but that you could do without. These specifications will tell you which direction to take in your ERP project. Whatever happens, you need to know that it's unrealistic to expect a solution that 100% meets your expectations in terms of features. Your objective should be to get as many of those features as you can at a price you can afford.

This is where the choices come in: on one hand, you should go for a business ERP rather than a generalist one. A solution designed for your business will come as standard with more features ready for your business model. Next... There is no next! Don't get your publisher started on specific development in the ERP, you might lose more than you win. Here are the main reasons why:

A specific development will tie you down

 At a time when your business should be agile, so should your IS. Plus, version upgrades become more difficult and take longer with specific developments. In fact, the publisher/integrator isn't always able to guarantee upward compatibility of his upgrades with your specific system. It will have to be validated every time the solution is updated...

In addition, a specific development will not evolve with the rest of the application. Which means it may rapidly become less efficient. You will also be billed for any upgrades, because specific developments aren't usually included in upgrade maintenance.

A specific system always calls for more specificity.

When a company's teams are used to being fully assisted by customised software, it's hard to ask them to give up that luxury. You can bet your bottom dollar that they'll always ask for more and are sure to submit repeated requests for additional functions that would have to be dealt with by new specific developments. Ultimately, once you start on the road to a specific development it's like being caught in something of a vicious cycle.

On the other hand, with a business solution with no extras, you'll find that the majority of your needs are covered. Your teams should find ways to work around the few features that aren't covered. The result is radically different: In this kind of scenario, your operational staff will be delighted with all the things the management solution can do and will be capable of compensating for any missing features. No demands, no costs!

Specific development is incompatible with the objective of an ERP project.  

The cycle of specific developments results in everything that your ERP project was supposed to spare you from. As it happens, if you've chosen an ERP, it's usually to avoid investing a fortune on a digital services company that will satisfy your every whim.

The moral of this story

It's better to cover 80% of your needs with a standard vertical solution, than 90% with a specific solution.

Any company that's tried it will tell you the same!

The only exception to this rule: the layout of your information system. Your ERP is a genuine collaborative management platform and should obviously communicate with other internal software and even with your clients' software and/or your suppliers'. Specific interfaces between systems are sometimes necessary. But once again, you should try to favour 'standard' APIs.


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