The best ERP Solutions are designed and developed based on industry best practices. People with domain knowledge are engaged in designing the product. ERP customers see the implementation as a way to streamline their functions across departments in the organization and ensure that the different parts of the organization are more cohesive. Use of best practices also enables compliance to regulatory requirements such as those of GAAP, FAA, EASA, SOX etc.
ERP systems are designed with lots of configurable options which would enable the customers to model the ERP software to their existing processes. Instead, ERP implementations kick off with the notion of ''adapt your processes around the ERP solution'' (i.e. to industry standards suggested by ERP solution). The reason to avoid customization is to use the solution as it has been designed as it incorporates the industry best practices.
Implementing ERP requires changes in existing business processes and it usually has a significant impact on people, processes and practices.
By the time implementation crosses the solution definition/Blueprinting phase, the project team would have a list of gaps/customizations, which may be due to multiple reasons, most common of which are:
- Resistance from users to adapt to the new processes, due to fear of change. The legacy system is rooted deep within the organization and hence the new processes are perceived as painful overhead by the staff. The users of ERP software are veterans in their business and they do not want to be dictated to by the new ERP system.
- Scale of the organization also impacts the level of customization. Many companies have a single person managing multiple roles, say, order to invoice cycle, whereas a big company will have 4 to 5 people managing these functions. ERP products, being generic in nature, are generally designed to cater to customers with a substantial workforce, leaving the smaller customers with no option but to customize. ERP application screens will have many controls spread over few tabs which would cover even large customers, whose data capture and control requirements could be high, whereas this may be usability overhead to the smaller customers. In such cases, there could be a need to simplify the screens or even add few controls here and there to ease data entry.
- Report requirements. All ERP systems come with a set of predefined reports which are unique to the organization based on their requirements and hence calls for customization. Information or visibility of data across the organization is a key objective of the ERP implementation.
- Specific and unique business requirements that can’t be addressed by any other way.
Though out of the box implementation is seen as the fastest and cheapest way to implement by top management, it leaves the product less flexible and hence the product has very low buy-in from end users.
On the other hand, customizing the ERP product increases the implementation time, resource cost, difficulties in future upgrades but can greatly enhance the user acceptance.
So, in order to scale and reach maximum potential, extensibility of product, without impacting future upgrades and implementation time, becomes a key feature of advanced ERP software products.
Extensibility is a key feature of Ramco's solution. Ramco empowers implementation teams and customers with a wide range of extension tools like EDK, ITK, PDK, Dcube, Advanced reporting tool etc... to extend the standard product based on customer needs. These tools enable the implementers, partners and customer IT teams to extend the product to,
- Append new user interfaces / new modules to existing business processes
- Design and develop new reports
- Modify layout/format of existing user interfaces or reports
- Add or modify business validations in transactions
- Rename controls
- Interface with external systems
- Restrict access to critical information in screen
- Design and develop dash boards for top management
Naturally, the fear of maintenance overhead comes with any customization on software products.
In case of Ramco’s product, since the extension tools are also developed, delivered and maintained by Ramco, these tools make the extensions work seamlessly with the core ERP product.
The tools are built around the core platform Ramco VirtualWorks, on which the product is developed and delivered and hence extensions can been made quickly and easily which implies less time, less effort and less cost.
The technology behind these tools make the extension deliverables stay outside the core product, upgrade friendly but work in an integrated manner for the end user. This ensures that the regular upgrades from the product team retains the customization made in the core product. These tools offer various models where the IT team can develop the extensions which can be maintained in future by the product organization and vice versa. The beauty of these tools is that they also work on our cloud offering.
Every organization, every business is unique. So, however big or small, in reality, it becomes a necessity to customize ERP product to enhance the user experience and ROI. Also these tools help in adapting the ERP solution to changing business environment, even after implementation!
GAAP - Generally accepted accounting principles
EASA - European Aviation Safety Agency
SOX - Sarbanes-Oxley Act
FAA - Federal Aviation Administration
EDK - Extension Development Kit
ITK - Implementation Tool Kit
PDK - Portal development Kit