Small businesses that decide to adopt an ERP solution often face an important choice: they can either adapt their business to the vendor’s pre-built parameters or use a custom ERP system so that it better serves their goals of adopting an ERP. This article will discuss what is needed to build a custom ERP solution that is suitable for your business’s unique needs.
What is a custom ERP?
A custom ERP is an ERP application that has been modified on a macro scale to tailor it for the unique business needs of a company. Some examples of creating a custom ERP are:
Benefits of a custom ERP
We understand that choosing an ERP solution for your business can be a complex and daunting task. However, if done right, this can lead to a long and fruitful partnership with your ERP vendor, which in turn can enable the smooth facilitation of a custom ERP. This successive journey is also worthwhile, as a custom ERP will significantly streamline daily operations to suit the unique needs of your business, among other benefits such as:
A competitive advantage
In this era of cut-throat competition, it is always wise to invest in something that gives you an advantage over your competition. The same can be said about a custom ERP. Since no standard ERP system can address all the challenges faced by a business, having a custom ERP is a sure way to cater to the very same. Having a system in place that allows you to leverage all your data and see the bigger picture, is what you need to stay ahead of the game.
Complete product control
You must understand that one of the key reasons for undertaking ERP software is to ensure that all your business needs are met. However, the standard ERP software solution might not work for your business if your business specializes in a certain niche and has unique requirements.
However, signing up for a custom ERP software gives you maximum control over its actions. You can request the ERP developer to configure a tailored solution with all the features you require, and master complete control over it. Your custom ERP will save you from the noise of excessive features that you may not need, so you can focus on the ones that you do use, and get positive results.
Ownership of a tailor-made solution
In the case of a standard ERP, the license is held by the software company - and in the case of SaaS ERP models, a subscription fee is paid to use the ERP system. However, having a custom ERP designed for you means the license and the software belong to you, meaning you don’t need to continue making payments, and you can further personalize and scale the software if required.
Flexibility and scalability
Having a custom ERP software specifically developed to meet your business needs, means higher flexibility and the ability to make adjustments whenever required. As the demands of your business change, you may add more features to your ERP. Only software that is easy to scale can continue to serve at such companies. A major benefit of custom ERPs is the freedom and ability to alter their design and infrastructure as needed.
Seamless data flow for real-time analytics
With a custom ERP, enable custom integrations with third-party tools that can help data flow from one application to another, including to databases that can be used for business intelligence. With big data being a prime (and common) source of raw, unfiltered data for small and large businesses alike, capturing insights from such repositories can offer much needed support for wise business decision making. Self-service business intelligence is also another branch of data analytics that is worth considering for your custom ERP, since staff can build and generate reports without any technical expertise.
How to build a custom ERP
You will want to start by using the ERP solution as intended. This will show you how the system operates and hopefully reveal the various gaps in the system that need to be filled through a custom ERP. Be sure to take lots of notes—it’s easy to forget something when you’re delving into the minutiae.
Once you’ve done this for a few days, you will need to write up a fit/gap document that describes the different issues. You should then send this file to your system administrator and have them determine whether the changes of the custom ERP will conflict with other applications that you are currently using.
It’s also important to check whether the data you’re going to need already exists in the system. If the necessary data is absent, you’re going to have to define new data structures or find a way to modify existing ones for creating the perfect custom ERP for your business needs.
The next step is to decide whether you want to modify the system or simply “bolt-on” the changes. If you modify the system to create your custom ERP, you may have to modify your ERP interface design as well. If you “bolt-on” the system, you keep the existing structure but add new tables, screens and programs in your custom ERP. The system administrator and functional owners can probably offer advice on which will work best.
You will then want to design a series of screens and report layouts. This should take into account the processing rules and data tables that will be involved with the processes. You should also write down potential scenarios that may negatively impact the functions that you are changing in your custom ERP.
You’re probably going to want the expertise of a developer for the next part: you need to make direct changes to the code or write entirely new programs that support the changes. Everything will also have to be thoroughly tested to make sure the custom ERP system is working properly. Be sure to use all the functions—you may have unintentionally caused a problem with the related system components, and you need to know this before you start using the new custom ERP system.
You should also keep track of all the different changes that you are making. This isn’t just for the records - you’re going to need to re-apply them every time the software vendor releases a patch to the system. However, if everything has been done correctly with the custom ERP, this shouldn’t be too big of a deal.