In Mary Shelley’s classic novel “Frankenstein,” an eccentric scientist undertakes the bold yet ill-advised experiment of reanimating human life. While he succeeds in his endeavor, the outcome is not what he expected and more horrifying than he could have imagined. Dr. Frankenstein is left to deal with the consequences of his creation, and can only watch as the monster destroys everything that he holds dear.
While a poorly designed ERP system will not hunt down loved ones in a murderous rage, the consequences can be painful, significant, and downright miserable. When implementing a tier two ERP system such as SAP Business One or Microsoft Navision, over-customization and patching a system together with numerous add-ons will almost always lead to an unstable and unpredictable system that is prone to crashes, glitches, and performance issues. The steps below can help to ensure that your tier two ERP system runs like a well-oiled machine rather than a disjointed, unnatural monstrosity.
Focus on the Right Requirements
In any ERP system implementation, selecting the right system is half the battle. Many companies fall into the trap of identifying hundreds of requirements, most of which are only nice-to-haves. They lose focus of the two most important requirements of an ERP system: ease of entering transactional data into the system and ease of extracting data out of the system in the form of reports. Trying to create a system that will meet all of the nice-to-have requirements will often compromise those two most important requirements and will require some Frankenstein-esque manipulation behind the scenes.
The idea of custom development and a system that is specifically tailored to a company’s every wish is tempting. However, a general truth about tier two ERP systems is the more custom development a system has, the more easily it will glitch and break. Over-customization also limits a system’s ability to upgrade, meaning that the company will be stuck with the version of the system they originally purchase and forfeit any opportunity for free improvements in later versions. If a company legitimately does have a large number of custom requirements, they should consider implementing a tier one system, like SAP ECC or Oracle, which allow for and encourage full customization and a ground-up design approach.
Do Your Due Diligence With Bolt-on Products
For tier two systems, there seem to be hundreds of available add-on modules or bolt-on products that offer functionality the standard system does not. While these products are usually built specifically for the base system and offer attractive bells and whistles, they are often developed independently of one another by different partner companies. This means that these add-ons work well by themselves but may not play well together. When add-on modules are combined without proper due diligence, they have the tendency to step on each other’s toes and break each other’s code.
Add-ons are an important and beneficial part of any ERP System, but companies should work carefully to identify add-ons that are complementary of one another and exercise restraint when deciding how many are necessary. Some of the most valuable add-ons are those that enhance the two central requirements mentioned in point one. For example, a company can find significant benefit from a robust reporting tool and an advanced configuration module, which allows customization of the user interface, improving ease of use and user adoption.
Trenegy helps companies select and implement ERP systems that make reporting and analysis easier. The above recommendations can help prevent monstrous ERP behavior resulting from over-customization and a piecemeal add-on strategy.
For additional guidance in selecting the right ERP, check out Trenegy’s “The State of the ERP” handbook for thorough, up-to-date reviews on various tier one and tier two solutions.