ERP software vendors often talk about best practices. What’s not to like? The concept is sound. Best practices can help to speed implementations by providing an existing framework. This prevents the need to reinvent the wheel for functionality that’s widely used in other companies. As the word “best” in best practices implies, it also provides a solution that has proven success, which helps to lower risks associated with poor solution design.
The problem with best practices stems from the fact they seldom go far enough to meet all the company’s needs. Going beyond best practices can hurt your business in the long term. ERP software vendors vary greatly in the best practices they offer in an effort to meet the long tail of customer requirements.
ERP Software Requirements Differ by Industry and Vertical
General ERP or even industry-specific ERP is often too broad to be meaningfully applied to your business — they simply don’t help. Vendors that go deeper offering vertical (i.e., life sciences manufacturing) or even vertical segment (i.e., life sciences medical device manufacturing) best practices can provide greater value, but even in these cases requirements met by the software seldom exceed 90 percent because each company has unique needs.
Some vendors try to downplay the value of these differences suggesting that best practices are the right solution. As such, customers should modify their process to align with the best practices. The danger in this approach is often these differences are part of (or support) a company’s unique differentiation, which is what makes them competitive in their market. In these cases, adopting “best practices” in favor of your unique process can destroy the differentiating value a company delivers to the market.
Given the importance of understanding and respecting unique business processes that create value, why would ERP vendors steer customers to best practices? One of the reasons is a lack of suitable alternatives. If you are not going to use best practices, how will you get the system to support your unique needs? Traditionally the answer was customizations.
The True Cost of ERP Software Customizations
Customizations are like a double-edged sword. They promise the fit you desire today, but in return they are costly to create — even costlier to maintain. ERP software customizations can take considerable time to implement, thereby slowing time to benefit and (worst of all) make your system more rigid. Customization is like pouring concrete. Given enough time and effort it will fit any form, but once it settles it’s almost impossible to change. As vendors release new versions of their software with functionality that meets your needs, customizations can make upgrading incredibly difficult. Each customization needs to be tested in the new release; many will break and need to be rebuilt.
Customizations are not sustainable. In essence you’re trading fit tomorrow for fit today. In a world where the pace of change is accelerating, this is not a fair trade.
What if there was another option for delivering the fit required, one that did not involve customizations? There is. At QAD we deliver the ability to create nonintrusive extensions as part of the QAD Enterprise Platform. These extensions allow customers to modify and add new functionality to their solution without code. These extensions maintain the agility of your system, and as new functionality is delivered, they don’t get in the way of upgrades. They deliver on the need to provide both fit today and fit tomorrow.
ERP Software Built for Your Manufacturing Industry
By providing a solution that is focused on only six industries within manufacturing and goes deeper to concentrate on best practices in 24 vertical segments, QAD delivers greater fit out of the box minimizing the gap between the solution and your unique needs. With the QAD Enterprise Platform, last-mile functionality is easier to deliver, maintain and adapt.