I’ve run across enough blog posts alluding to the “dangers” of industry-specific solutions that I can’t help but think that there must be some misunderstanding about this topic. At Tensoft, we have specialized in industry-specific solutions for over 20 years. We know first-hand how beneficial our products are to our customers and partners. I suspect that part of the issue is simply terminology.
“Industry-specific ERP” often seems to be used to describe an ERP system that provides a “complete” system (General Ledger, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, etc.) that has unique functionality for a specific industry. By that definition, I would heartily agree that Industry-specific ERP is dangerous, since it’s a huge undertaking to create and maintain a complete ERP system. Only the top tier, established ERP vendors – or a really well-funded newcomer with truly breakthrough technology - can afford to do this well. The problem is that the distinction between industry-specific ERP and industry-specific solutions seems to have gotten muddled.
An industry-specific solution is intended to integrate with one or more of the big ERP systems, extending their core functionality for industries with such unique needs that an out-of-the-box horizontal ERP system would fall short. These solutions are often called “add-ons” or “best-of-breed software.” What Microsoft – and all of the other big ERP players – have known and have been telling their channel for years, is that “industry-specific solutions” are what they believe is needed to deliver the last mile of functionality to their ERP customers. Without these solutions, customers in industries with unique needs have no choice but to: 1) customize their system themselves, at considerable initial expense and in a never-ending spiral of ongoing upkeep; or 2) live with inefficient work-arounds that may end up costing as much as those expensive customizations in terms of lost opportunities and inefficiencies. Industry-specific solutions (or “add-ons” or “best-of-breed) have the significant advantage of being commercial products, with both user communities and a developer community to back them up. This is a huge benefit, especially in the mid-market. Large enterprises can afford to staff and maintain development and support teams for customized back-office solutions but must do so with the full knowledge that it’s a big financial commitment to maintain software solely for their own use.
Tensoft’s approach to industry-specific functionality has always been to determine how far standard ERP functionality will take our unique industry customers, and then to extend the ERP system for the industry’s needs by developing only for the areas that are unique. For example, our fabless semiconductor customers need a “reverse Bill of Materials,” (BOM) so a standard ERP Inventory module is extremely challenging – if not impossible – for them to use. That’s the point at which Tensoft Fabless Semiconductor Management Solution, Tensoft SemiOps, begins. Tensoft SemiOps is added on to Microsoft Dynamic’s core accounting and financial capabilities -- as well as its technology stack -- providing a seamless integration for the customer, and a solution that truly meets company needs. It’s that simple and not in the least scary. Just ask, and we’d be happy to tell you more about how an industry-specific solution can change your life!
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