As an organization that has been implementing Microsoft Dynamics solutions dating back to the DOS era, this is one of the toughest issues we face when bringing on a new client. Throughout the sales process we constantly hear “this is how we do it and if the software won’t do it our way, we need to look elsewhere”. Our experience tells us that some of these functions are must haves and will need to be addressed, but many are unnecessary. Sometimes making modifications just to please the “that’s how we always do it” mentality can be a bad thing.
As we begin discovery with a prospect we always weigh costs, especially customization costs. It can be very detrimental to customize a system to meet the “that’s how we always do it” mindset. In the end costs soar and when it comes time to upgrade costs balloon again as we try to upgrade customizations that are complex and quite honestly shouldn’t have been done. There is a fine line to consider when deciding what to customize and we’d like to offer some food for thought to consider as prospects weigh their options.
The first thing is if the software won’t meet a critical line of business process. That is a no brainer for us; the customization should be done. However, if the software has the functionality to get the job done, but the customer doesn’t like the process or way in which the software does the process that is another story. Clients must be open to changing how they do things versus always changing the software. Microsoft Dynamics solutions have controls built in to ensure data integrity and proper accounting controls. Breaking those processes or controls is a dangerous road to travel. It can be costly on so many fronts and can lead to many problems. We highly encourage our customers to weigh those costs as implementation decisions are made. The first question to ask is if productivity will be lost by conforming to the software. In many cases the answer is actually no. In fact the opposite is true and there are productivity gains to be had. The second question is about control and security. In many cases we are asked to make customizations that will weaken accounting controls. We try to encourage our clients to have an open dialogue with their accounting firm to determine if there is accounting risk associated with making changes. In many cases that third party can play the “trusted advisor” role and show the client that they truly should conform to the software. And finally, cost is another factor to consider. Customizations are expensive for the life of the software. Not only during the implementation, but upgrades, service packs, year- end updates and any hot fixes now become events that could have major implications. Unneeded customizations can greatly affect ROI of the system for its entire lifecycle.
As you evaluate ERP systems, we hope you will take some of these points and use them in your decisions on whether or not to customize your system.
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