• Customizing Software as a Service ERP Solutions. Necessary?
  • Ray Tetlow
  • Customization
Customizing Software as a Service ERP Solutions. Necessary?

We constantly hear software as a service (SaaS) ERP/CRM vendors talk about customizing their solutions and how "easy" it is.  In contrast, we constantly hear legacy software vendors talk about how inflexible SaaS solutions are.  

Well, let us tell you that:

  • SaaS solutions (for the most part) are highly adaptable.
  • SaaS solutions have great API's, are built for the web and are highly configurable towards modern business processes
  • Should you customize?  Not always!!! - but IT likes to :-)

Customization (definition).

To be clear, Tactics defines customization (in modern SaaS ERP solutions) as programming/scripting on metadata that has to be performed in order to achieve a certain business function.  This is vastly different from configuration (point and click) workflow defintions, reporting, custom fields or records.  It is also vastly different from changing source code (and consequently a lot less riskier and upgrade tolerant).

Big myth.

"Most SMBs require customization."  Software vendors like to tell you that of course because it locks you more into their products.    In our experience, it is not as true because modern systems are highly configurable.

The facts.

What customers think they need does not necessarily translate to what they actually need.  In fact, over 75% of all customization requests we see are either not customizations (in the true sense), can be delivered already in the product and/or are simply not needed because bad business practics are being adopted. 

Of the remaining 25%; at least 1/3 of these requests are eventually rejected by the client due to lack of ROI or budget.  

This leave a bit over 15% of requests that actually make it to deployment.

Real World Examples

A good illustration of this is a recent customer said he needed to integrate their product licensing server to a ERP solution - we found out quickly that they only sold two products a week (albeit expensive) and the customization would have cost north of 20K.  Here, obviously there was no justification in spending the money.

Another good illustration was from a new customer that said they were having problems in their ERP account. We found out that someone had put in over 200 customizations. While this created a very happy consultant, best business practices were obviously not followed. 

A more positive outcome was achieved by a valued customer.  This customer needed personalized web pages generated for their clients to buy their product via an email when a lead got entered.  To do this manually, was costing a fortune and would not scale.   A customization was specified, a clear ROI was identified (reduced labor burden by 1000's of man-hours) and finally was developed and deployed in short order.    

Some Final Thoughts

Tactics is unique in that our projects are run by business consultants versus technical consultants. Because of this foundation, and because most SaaS ERP systems remove most technical aspects of a deployment, it stands to reason that Tactics puts heavy emphasis (for the good of the customer) on making sure the customer really needs the customization.

To this end. It goes without saying that software vendors want to you customize as much as you can. Just bear in mind - the more customization you have the more your locked-in to the vendor of course. And we all know where that can lead.

Think before you leap.

  • Ray Tetlow
  • Customization