Custom ERP vs Prepackaged Software: Which one is the winner?

Anyone who has to make purchasing decisions regarding enterprise resource planning applications has a pretty big task in front of them. If you’re deciding on whether or not to go for a custom ERP software, then you’re probably thinking that prepackaged applications are much easier to work with because you won’t have to make as many decisions when configuring them. They might also look less expensive because no customization has to be done.

Before you make a final choice, however, you might want to take a closer look at both options to reap the profits of using an ERP system for your business:

What advantages of ERP customization should IT managers think about beforehand?

If you’re an IT professional, then you’re more than likely bombarded with a ton of slick advertising telling you which products purport to be the best.

Brainstorming ERP Benefits

Before you make the final decision on whether you want to use a prepackaged solution or not, you’ll want to think about the following benefits of custom solutions:

  • Custom software is always unique to a specific company’s workflow rather than focusing on every possible workflow a firm could use.
  • It never comes with any unnecessary features.
  • Since you can regularly add features to it in the future, it can actually offer better value over the period of time you use it.
  • You can customize nearly any aspect of it during the design phase, and you’re only limited by the platform you deploy it on.
  • Instant access to data makes co-location easy as well as secure.
  • Different departments can ask for reports in different ways.
  • It offers a competitive advantage over using the same generic ERP applications that your competition uses.

Going the Prepackaged Route

Certainly, there is a list of excellent prepackaged applications that can do everything that custom ERP applications can do.

Choosing the Right ERP Software

Even those who do stress customization the most never deny this, and they even admit that prepackaged solutions are sometimes the best in certain situations. They’re easier to work with for companies that don’t have their own IT professionals in some cases. Since they’re always standard, every department will work with the software in exactly the same fashion. You won’t have to cross-train anyone in the methods used in other departments to file reports.

Some companies have opted to go with these solutions simply because it makes the process of making purchasing decisions easy. There used to be a saying among coders that no one ever got fired for opting to go with the most obvious hardware vendors. This kind of thinking might not be very adventurous, but it tends to be widely-held in the world of information technology.

How to Reach a Purchasing Decision? – Custom vs Off the Shelf ERP Software

It’s a good idea to take a look at the specific needs of your business because some benefits of custom ERP software can actually cancel out the benefits of prepackaged solutions depending on what you have to work with.

Take for instance, the idea that prepackaged solutions are easier to learn. This is mostly because they come with a bundled support package. If you have your own IT department, then this kind of thing becomes more of a liability than anything else.

These solutions also have to come with bundled support packages because they’re often complicated. Not necessarily true, but they usually come with features that you won’t use is why they must have support in the first place. People often get in touch with software vendors to ask them questions about options that they don’t actually use. If an option is there but never gets used, then it often confuses operators who think that they might have missed something when becoming oriented with the software.

Understanding the Needs of Every Enterprise Department

Stopping to ask questions of course wastes time that could be better spent on productive work. This also relates to how different departments can have different methods of filing reports. As was mentioned before, one of the reasons for using prepackaged solutions is that everyone will be entering data in the same fashion. This really sounds like it would make things easier for people in different departments as they would all have to learn the same procedures regarding data entry.

It doesn’t always work out this way, however, because different departments have completely different planning needs. Design, research, development, engineering and manufacturing processes are all very unique. This means that they implement ERP techniques in their own unique ways.

If you outsource any part of your business activities, then custom solutions might be a better way to go for this reason. Internal business units would want to make up a plan that can be executed by someone outside of your own enterprise.

Normal ERP software doesn’t allow people to do that at all. These sorts of situations mitigate most of the benefits that come with using prepackaged solutions, so you would more than likely want to begin looking at custom ones. Portability is something that can come along with this decision as a bit of a side benefit.

Data Collocation & Portability

Custom ERP applications can be written in such a way that they’ll function natively with the specific collocation carrier hotels you’re working with. Regardless of whether you have your own data center or contract with a server farm, you can have coders put together a package that’s designed to meet the needs of your data center. This means you’ll be able to store almost everything in the cloud, which opens up some very interesting possibilities.

Data Collocation And Portability

Modern digital businesses have to work with people all around the country and even the world. Allowing staff to communicate with a distant data center and maintain a business plan can make this kind of a transaction go much more smoothly. As such, managerial staff should be able to access their ERP accounts regardless of where they are physically located.

We’ve gotten to the point where even mobile Web browsers are sort of like operating systems unto themselves. People have started to write entire books about how Web browsers could support an ERP platform by themselves. HTML5 and JavaScript are really old news, but they’re starting to be used in very innovative ways that weren’t possible before because of hardware limitations.

If you have a custom ERP client written in these kinds of programming environments, then your staff can access it on pretty much anything that has a browser installed.

People working with various types of Unix software will be on equal footing with those using smartphones. Anyone involved in your business process will be able to pull out their phone or tablet and check the plan right inside of their browser. This kind of technology also works extremely well with open-source desktop environments.

Considering Custom Solutions

Choosing a custom package over a prepackaged one can be a difficult decision, but it might very well be one that streamlines your business operations. With the dizzying array of devices and data centers now in service, it doesn’t make sense to go with a one-size-fits-all approach any longer.

Building a custom ERP solution ensures that you’ll be able to cut down on unnecessary features while keeping a competitive advantage over other companies that use applications tied to the older paradigms.