"What we're seeing more and more are companies that are saying let's go vanilla now because they can always adjust or change things later," she says. The idea that ERP is a big bandage and that nothing can ever change after you deploy it is going away."
And in practice, this "install vanilla" approach is a good one for many clients, she says. "I think it depends to a certain extent on the application that is chosen. If the application has vertical functionality with role-based sourcing and other possible configuring, then, yes, you're better off going vanilla."
"Clients see this as a less risky move, a more predictable way to deploy ERP and a way that is more likely to minimize disruptions and costs over time, which is even more important."
There are other things to consider, too, such as being sure you find a trusted partner to work with as you navigate the ERP upgrade/replacement waters, she says.
"I hear this a lot from clients," she says. "With ERP, success depends not just on the software but on the partner, too. And selecting a partner means finding one that has enough experience to [to guide you] when you might want to go out of the box and do some customizing. You'll want to find someone who's done that kind of thing before. Then they can help you plan [a successful strategy]."
That's just as important for ERP consultants, because most of them aren't making their money from implementation nowadays, Wettemann says. "They're making it with change management consulting and helping you to make those tough decisions."
It is also just as important when deciding your ERP strategy that you work with the users of the application and get their input.
"The other key thing that we're seeing is people are getting business unit owners and actual end users involved in the process much earlier," she says. "That means not just through an implementation team but through a team that is doing usability testing and getting process feedback. That wasn't as common a few years ago."
So what changed?
"I think CIOs today realize that user adoption is really critical in the success of an ERP implementation," Wettemann says. "Getting users involved early gives you very good feedback so you can solve problems before they really become big problems on everyone's desktops. That way you don't roll out an application that no one has seen before," which can cause massive dissatisfaction and problems with the people who will actually have to be using the software.
Another benefit of early user involvement is that it allows you to show users directly how an application can make their lives easier, Wettemann says. "This approach comes from CIOs who might have personally experienced or marginally witnessed a horrible ERP failure that occurred because of user adoption issues, or they read about such a failure."