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ERP Experts Survey | TEC 2019
Part Two: Expert ERP Project Advice From A-Z—The Inside Scoop

Software Customization vs. Business Process Adaptation


An important step before beginning the implementation of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution is to assess your company’s readiness for the new system. This includes choosing between software customization and business process adaption.

We asked our respondents to what extent they agreed with the following statement: “Organizations should modify their ERP software to meet their unique needs, rather than significantly adjust their business processes to fit the software.”

Strongly agree 13.51%
Partially agree 40.54%
Neutral/undecided 10.81%
Partially disagree 8.11%
Strongly disagree 27.03%

Our respondents were split roughly down the middle on this question, but of the half who agreed, most supplied cautionary comments. As Branislav Djurkovic, CEO of Apollo, wrote, “In most cases they don’t really have ‘unique needs’ but rather old habits. Customizations increase costs, slow implementations, and limit the company’s ability to take advantage of product enhancements.”

Ned Lilly, CEO of xTuple, noted, “It’s easy to fall into the trap of over-customizing, especially with open-source. The most successful implementations work with standard processes and methodologies, and make modifications only where the business need can’t be met otherwise.”

A quarter of our expert group strongly disagreed with the statement, though it doesn’t mean all customizations are ill-advised. Every ERP implementation will have customizations. But most ERP vendors aim to design their solutions to be flexible and adaptable to different verticals and various business needs, so organizations can leverage industry standards and minimize costly customizations to just a few unique processes. Moreover, ERP vendors are continuously innovating, but businesses can’t easily take advantage of these changes if their systems have been highly customized.

Worth noting is that 11% of the ERP professionals we surveyed selected “neutral/undecided,” which came as no surprise: this is a difficult issue that not everyone is prepared to slice and dice.

However, TEC’s perspective is quite clear, summarized here by Mehdi Aftahi, CTO: “Companies embarking on ERP implementation projects should avoid customizations, which means identifying unique and critical requirements before acquiring the ERP software, and ensuring the chosen solution not only has coverage for those specific processes, but can offer best practices to improve them. One of the strategic reasons to implement an ERP system is to take advantage of the best practices it enables, and this can only be achieved by changing the old ways of doing things.”

Software Customization vs Business Process Adaptation

“It’s easy to fall into the trap of over-customizing, especially with open-source. The most successful implementations work with standard processes and methodologies, and make modifications only where the business need can’t be met otherwise.”

—Ned Lilly, CEO of xTuple

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