Customize your ERP or adapt to it? What's your strategy?

By Todd R. Weiss, CIO |  Software, ERP

It's also important, she says, not to underestimate the technological prowess of your users in the workplace today, even when you are showing them new things.

"The flip side of early user input is that the consumerization of technology means that telling a user, 'oh you don't know how to use this' isn't acceptable anymore," Wettemann says. "Now they'll tell you "I set up my wireless network at my own house. Don't you dare tell me that I don't understand how this system works.' Users are getting more experience everywhere."

As you explore your ERP strategy it is a good idea to get involved in user groups where passionate discussions are likely going on about the products and vendors that you are considering, Wettemann says. "You'll get feedback from real users who are already using the things you want to implement. They can give you an honest, unwashed assessment of their own experiences."

No matter what route you take, there are several key questions to ask yourself as you proceed, Wettemann says:

1. Does the application that you are reviewing already have vertical functionality in it and is it configurable in the ways that you need to massage it for your business processes? Will it be able to do what you are asking it to do? Will it work for your users?

2. Does the vendor and partners have references from businesses and industries like yours? Do they have to do any customization as opposed to configuring? How much customization did that involve? What did they have to do?

3. Is this a CIO led initiative or a business led initiative inside your company? If you have strong business sponsorship, you can push greater change management, which will mean less customization of the code. That happens because then you have a cheerleader on the business side who is telling people that this is the right new way to do things.

There is no wrong route to take here.

Whether you upgrade, customize, go vanilla, rip and replace or use a combination of options, your ERP path has to fit your company, your business and your needs to make it a success.

One important thing to remember in all of this is that you and your enterprise are not alone in your ERP decisions. Many companies from large to small are facing similar issues.

"It's really mixed, with lots of mid-market companies deciding to deploy ERP for first time, while in larger organizations there's a lot of add-on going on in the market," Wettemann says. "In the Oracle world, most everyone is looking at upgrades at this point and waiting to see what happens with Fusion, their next-generation ERP application. In the SAP world, we aren't seeing a lot of new SAP deployments right now. What we are seeing are add-ons like Business Objects for existing customers."

Originally published on CIO |  Click here to read the original story.
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