Customization Series, 2 of 4: Costs of Customization

As mentioned in our previous customization blog, customization may not be as great as vendors may have you believe.  Although it may seem wonderful at first to customize ERP solutions, doing so can be cumbersome and expensive.  So before being sold on the glamour of customization, first consider the below myths and points on the potentially hidden costs of customization. 

1)       It’s easy – Really?  What programming knowledge will you end up needing to make the “simple” customizations to the product?  Maybe some of the personalization we mentioned in part 1 of this series is easy, but true customization rarely is.

2)      Because it’s so easy, the cost to you is minimal. – Again, really?  Once you realize the depth of programming required to make your “simple” customization it becomes clear you are in over your head and as the vendor knew would happen you’re contacting them for help.  Cha Ching!!  Here comes the unexpected added expense round one.

3)      So now you’ve done your system customizations.  Whether one custom or a hundred and one the next issue is where it can become a real problem for you.  Your vendor comes out with an update release and it affects the core programs you modified and your custom programs will no longer work.  What does this mean to you and your company?  Either you can’t move forward, thus missing out on possible new enhancements you may benefit from OR you have to pay your vendor yet again to take your custom programs forward.  More investment you didn’t plan on!!

Avoid Unexpected Costs

There is most likely no solution that will give you everything you need out of the box, BUT there are solutions that will come pretty close if the offering is robust enough and flexible enough for your business.  Remember to do your diligence when investing in an ERP system to include seeing everything that is important to a successful implementation.  Don’t take the vendors word for it!  See it live, if possible, with your data, and then you know it will work for you without having to make unexpected customizations.

An ERP investment is significant enough without adding unplanned costs due to lacking functionality or misrepresented functionality causing you to customize beyond expectations.  Unfortunately, these issues and their added costs will typically surface when you are too far down the road of implementation to do anything about it.

So, now that you know the potential costs you may run into, you can ask the right questions when weighing options.  If a system requires a lot of customization to do what you really want it to do, maybe you haven’t found the right system for your company.  Our next blog in the series will discuss figuring out if customization is the right fit for your company. 

Posted by Ken Hayes, Vice President, ProfitKey International

3 thoughts on “Customization Series, 2 of 4: Costs of Customization

  1. Don Hebert

    Good article. One way I gauge the effectiveness of a “customization” is if it addresses a user behavior that happens frequently and not easily accomplished in the base software. For example if user has to access the same sort of information in the same way multiple times a day, every day, then a customized method of doing this is likely to be well worth the cost and aggravation of maintaing it on new releases.

    ERP systems face a lot pressure from ever-expanding expectations from users and administrators of these systems are constantly being asked to make the system fulfil these expectations. This is often the impetus behind customization efforts.

  2. Pingback: Customization Series, 3 of 4: Finding the Right Fit | Navigating ERP

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