How to customize ERP software to match your business requirements

By Marius Wessels 

As more businesses go virtual, so does the need for them to adapt to systems that ease their operations. Businesses in all sectors at one point need to upgrade to new systems of operation but oftentimes they find the transition quite an uphill task.

But thanks to enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, businesses can make a smooth transition in their IT systems and a seamless streamline of their inhouse processes.

Different businesses have different lines of operation, organizational culture, production volumes, and product types. This means while ERPs are an important element in enhancing operational efficacy as the move into smart industries continues, every enterprise needs an ERP software tailored to its needs and demands. An ERP meant for a soft drink processing company will need different customization from one that deals with phone manufacturing. In essence, every business needs an ERP that best suits how it operates.

For the best automation results, ERPs need to be tweaked to comprehensively adapt to their intended roles to allow businesses to track their products in real time, collect performance data to send back to a centralized system for analysis. This could be information on everything from stock levels to faults in equipment on the production line.

Essentially, customizing ERPs comes with an array of benefits for an organization. It, for instance, provides the organization with full control over its system. In addition, it affords the business the flexibility it requires to make any changes whenever required. This could include instances when the business wants to integrate new processes or upscale its operations.

It also gives the business a competitive edge. Since no standard ERP system can fully address all of an enterprises’ challenges in full, customizing the system often presents a working solution, ensuring it sustains a competitive edge against its competitors.

Also, the organization is presented with an opportunity to fully own the ERP system. The software’s manufacturing company will, as a result, have little influence on how the business uses the ERP.

For the most part, an accurately customized ERP system ensures that it brings out the best outcomes, forestalling any unanticipated failures hence disrupting the business operations. It ensures that the ERP plays the roles that are required, which primarily are to organize, integrate and digitize the business processes.

Therefore to customize your ERP, one first needs to identify their business needs and goals. This comes through analyzing the current processes and establishing the areas that need improvement. For instance, highlighting the functionalities that require improving to ensure productivity and efficiency in the business.

Before choosing an ERP software, there are factors that should be considered. First, the organization’s end goal – or definition of success – must be clearly defined and understood. One needs know what specific measurable benefits the system needs to deliver, and be able to manage stakeholder expectations, and gauge whether the stakeholders, including your employees, management, and customers, are happy with the outcomes

It is also imperative for an organization to determine how much costs it is ready to incur for an ERP system. Most businesses may look at these systems as an expense, hence risk choosing the wrong ERP based on price. In this regard, analyzing different ERP systems helps find the perfect fit for the business.

Conducting research and comparing different features, pricing and even functionalities of an ERP to identify what is designed for one’s industry, and which one fits business requirements is therefore imperative. The input of a consultant is greatly advisable in this entire process.

Determining one’s budget and pointing out which system best suits the organization, then identifying an ERP vendor should be next in the process. Selecting a dealer with experience in installing and customizing ERP systems for businesses within the industry. It also doesn’t hurt to reach out to some previous customers to find out how the system works for them.

Customizing an ERP system involves tailoring the software to fit the specific needs and processes of your organization. A general overview of the steps one can take to customize an ERP system includes first assessing and planning the organization’s requirements. Identify the business’ unique requirements and processes that need customization.

This helps in defining clear objectives for the customization, such as improving efficiency, adding new functionalities, or integrating with other systems. It also helps to determine the scope of customization required, having in mind factors like budget, timelines, and resources.

Then configure it using the built-in configuration options provided by the ERP system to adjust settings, parameters, and options to align with the business processes. Configuration also entails setting the user roles, permissions, and access controls to ensure data security and restrict access as needed.

Then proceed to customize the data by modifying the data structures, fields, and relationships within the ERP database to capture and manage specific information relevant to the organization. Ensure that the customized data structure supports the necessary reporting, analytics, and workflow requirements.

Also, customize workflow processes, approval routing, and automation rules to match the organization’s unique processes, all the while implementing prompts and notifications to streamline tasks and keep the stakeholders informed.

The user interface, look and feel of the ERP system’s can then be enhanced to enrich the user experience and make it more intuitive. This is done by customizing the menus, dashboards, and screens to display the most relevant information for different user roles. Development of custom modules, extensions, or integrations is also important, to address specific business needs that are not met by the standard ERP packages. This entails working with developers or development teams to code and implement the desired functionalities.

Thorough tests of the customized features and functionalities should be ensured to be certain that they work as intended and do not disrupt existing processes. This is easily achievable through Identifying and addressing any bugs, errors, or issues that arise during testing.

When these are done, the employees can then be trained on how to use the customized ERP features effectively. This should entail providing documentation and resources to help users understand the changes and benefits of customization.

After all have been worked out, the customized ERP system can be rolled out to the organization’s users, making sure that everyone is aware of the changes and how these impact their work. This should be followed by continuous maintenance and support, and regularly monitoring and maintaining the customized ERP system to ensure it continues to function smoothly and meets the evolving business needs.

User support and addressing any issues or concerns that arise post-deployment, are integral as well. So is documentation and knowledge sharing about the customizations made including configurations, workflows, and any new code developed or introduced.

However, this customization must be approached strategically to avoid overcomplicating the system and in turn creating future challenges. Careful planning, testing and constant evaluation helps achieve a well-tailored ERP system for the organizational processes.

Lastly, encourage feedback from users and other stakeholders to identify further requirements for enhancement and customization.

(Marius Wessels is the Professional Services Manager at SYSPRO Africa).


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