How an ‘Easy’ ERP Customization Can Cost You in the Long Run

In general, most people searching for new accounting software understand that customization is bad and out-of-the-box functionality is good. But is that always true? What if the person creating the customized option seems to understand your needs better than you do?

My response is simple: Don’t fall for their trap!

In the early 2000’s a large medical insurance firm selected Dynamics SL due to the project accounting capabilities that came out-of-the-box with the software. They almost went with a customized product instead because a competitor was able to mock up customizations to make their product look like it would do what the prospective client wanted.

When the prospective client asked enough questions, it became evident that the functionality was not built yet and would be expensive to build. This firm had expensive analysts on staff to make sure they did not fall for the tactic of customizing a demonstration to make it look like difficult functionality was within easy reach.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen prospective clients misled down the path of an “easy” customization. The seller promises, “It’s not that hard to create exactly what you want.” While this is not exactly a lie, the full truth is that major customizations, which may be implemented simply enough, can rarely be upgraded or supported easily.

We experienced this fact firsthand a few years ago. A former partner had gone out of business so we purchased a list of their clients with the belief that we could quickly pick up new clients with little work.

We soon learned that rather than make smart customizations as needed, some of these prospects had allowed their partner to change the product too much. We are beginning to work with some of these organizations, and we are introducing process changes so that they are not held ransom to us or anyone for support or continuing to upgrade their software.

Some customization is normal and necessary. However, the best partners understand the value of helping a client adjust process and maximize what the software does out of the box before looking to customize.

Massively customizing software can be a money pit for a long time. That’s why it’s important to buy software designed to work the way that you do — even if you have to do more research, make the salespeople work harder and ruffle some feathers on your own team.

To learn more about Microsoft’s middle-market ERP and accounting products, contact Carol Simonson at 763-412-4315 or to set up an appointment.