We live in an age where customization is king. You can get almost everything tailored to your unique specifications, from your coffee order to your house blueprint. 

Naturally, people like to customize their enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, as well.

While customization can be advantageous to an extent, it’s easy to overdo it. In fact, over-customization is one of the most common themes we see in ERP failures.

Today, we’re sharing the disadvantages of customizing an ERP system.

A Failed Payroll System Implementation

Panorama’s Expert Witness team was retained to provide a forensic analysis and written report to the court regarding the failed implementation of a major software developer’s ERP/payroll system.

5 Disadvantages of Customizing an ERP System

1. It Can Impede Your Implementation

By nature, ERP customizations are complex. Customized ERP systems tend to take longer to implement than out-of-the-box solutions. They also come at a higher price point.

If you need to go live with your system as soon as possible, then you could be looking at a major setback if you decide to make additional customizations outside of your initial scope. 

In these cases, you’d have to go back to the drawing board and make changes that impact every aspect of your workflows, which could heap time and costs onto the implementation. 

While you don’t want to rush into an implementation, you also don’t want to unnecessarily slow it down or make it more expensive than it needs to be. 

2. It Might Not Meet Your Business Goals

With too much customization, a system that was once designed to align perfectly with your business goals becomes a monolithic beast that’s basically non-functional. It might technically work, but it does little to help you reach your short-term and long-term objectives. 

While you don’t have to keep every aspect of your platform exactly as-is, consider only customizing areas that will give your company a competitive advantage. 

3. It Could Disrupt Core Software Features

When you’re overly focused on augmenting your core ERP system, you could miss out on the main features that the basic solution provides.

Most ERP software comes with built-in best practices that are designed to make the software work for your industry. If you alter it too significantly, you may lose the ability to make use of those practices. 

4. It Could Introduce Bugs

With the right team members by your side, you don’t have to worry as much about introducing bugs into your ERP solution.

However, it becomes more difficult to manage this risk as you add more features to the product.  When you stray too far away from the system’s core features, it’s easier to run into operability issues, including errors and defects.

This is simply the nature of software development. When you make the work more involved, it’s harder to maintain oversight and keep project controls in place. 

5. It Can Make Post-Implementation Upgrades More Difficult

ERP vendors regularly release new versions of their ERP platforms. These upgrades offer significant changes and improvements over the current versions, making the solutions more usable, secure, and functional.

While you need to stay on top of upgrades to keep your system operating as it should, it can be difficult if your system is overly-customized. Upgrades require you to rewrite portions of the software code, which becomes riskier if yours is complex. 

For this reason, many companies with custom ERP solutions choose to hold off on software upgrades, sometimes even deferring them indefinitely. While doing so might save you a headache in the short-term, it can lead to a host of operability issues down the road.

Then, employees will be less likely to use the system, and you’ll struggle to derive business benefits from it. 

Over-Customizing Causes More Difficulty Than it’s Worth

ERP customization allows you to ensure the end product is one that meets your organizational needs, and this can make the change more palpable for employees. 

However, the disadvantages of customizing an ERP system often outweigh any special features that the bespoke platform might offer.

If you’re unsure how much to customize your solution, it’s always best to trust the opinion of an experienced ERP consulting team. Contact us below for a free consultation.

About the author

As Director of Panorama’s Expert Witness Practice, Bill oversees all expert witness engagements. In addition, he concurrently provides oversight on a number of ERP selection and implementation projects for manufacturing, distribution, healthcare, and public sector clients.

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