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How to make the Choice Between Customization and Standard GP

The choice to customize Microsoft Dynamics GP or use the standard functionality is a big one.  Before you can make this decision, you should follow a few steps.

  1. Identify the requirements and how you perceive this can be accomplished.
  2. Once the requirements are identified, you should ask yourself: Do you really need to customize your ERP system to make this happen?  Can this be accomplished through configuration and using the standard functionality within Microsoft Dynamics GP?  Is there a third-party product that interfaces with Microsoft Dynamics GP that fulfills the need?
  3. If none of the above are available, then you may need to customize the software. If you need to customize Microsoft Dynamics GP, there are a few things you need ensure. You must identify how to best perform the customization to make sure it fulfills the need, does not interfere with other parts of the system, and is upgradable with the standard Microsoft Dynamics GP

Let’s dive a little deeper into each of these steps.

Identify the requirements

Identification of the requirements should always begin from the desired result.  In other words, what data and metrics do you want to report on or what process needs to be created?  Beginning from the desired end results enables you to fully understand where you are going and be better equipped along the way.

Once the final results are identified, then you can look at the general ideas as to what data and processes are already in place to accomplish this need.  With the existing environment defined, you can then look at what additional data or processes you need to create in order to realize the requirements.

Do you really need to customize your ERP system?

After the requirements are identified, you should first review if customizing your ERP system is really a need.  If the answer is yes, then you should look at what is already available that can be utilized without re-inventing the wheel. Re-inventing the wheel proves to be a difficult process many times with obstacles along the way.

Can the requirements be fulfilled within the Standard ERP system through configuration?

Microsoft Dynamics GP has a lot to offer and often we are not aware of everything it can do.  The requirement could be found by marking a checkbox, utilizing a user defined field, creating an internal Microsoft Dynamics GP workflow, or adding or turning on an additional Microsoft Dynamics GP module.

Working within the Microsoft Dynamics GP framework is always the best choice as it works within the designed framework of the software. It also further enables the system to have the fewest upgrading issues. It is recommended that you should always consult with your Microsoft Dynamics GP consultant at first, to identify if the requirements can be filled by using standard Microsoft Dynamics GP.

Is there a third-party product that already is designed to fill the need?

If the requirements cannot be accomplished through standard functionality of Microsoft Dynamics GP, then the next item to look at is third party packages.  There are numerous add-ons to Microsoft Dynamics GP that have already been designed to accomplish your current requirements.  The chances are that if you have the requirement, others have dealt with the same needs.  There are many Microsoft Value Added Resellers that have designed products made specifically for Microsoft Dynamics GP.

If Customization is required

Once the options have been reviewed with no other possible alternatives, then the requirement may need to be customized.  In other words, none of the following can address this issue:

  • The requirement is a genuine requirement and must be addressed
  • The requirement cannot be fulfilled using standard Microsoft Dynamics GP configurations
  • There are no third-party packages that interface with Microsoft Dynamics GP that fits the need

Identify how to best perform the customization

When the choice has been made to customize your system to meet a requirement, you should first look at the customization alternatives.  Customizations through the internal system generally work better than outside alternatives.  The main areas people like to customize are reports, forms, and processes.

For reporting needs in Microsoft Dynamics GP, there is a Report Writer tool that enables the customization of all Microsoft Dynamics GP reports.  When the report is modified, the user can print the modified report instead of the default report.

There are SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) reports that can access Microsoft Dynamics GP data through an ODBC driver and display the desired data and format that your organization requires.  SSRS reports are accessed through an internal hosted web interface.  There are several reporting tools that can be utilized especially with the use of an ODBC connection.

Forms can also be modified within Microsoft Dynamics GP, utilizing the Modifier tool. The Modifier tool has built in functionality to customize your form design to display the information you require.  The form can be further enhanced with VBA scripting to make the forms work as you desire.

Other form options can be accomplished with packages such as eOne’s Extender.  This package allows you to add additional functionality to forms without complex modifications to the base Microsoft Dynamics GP forms.

Does not interfere with other parts of the system

When any customization is created, it should be fully tested within your Microsoft Dynamics GP environment to ensure it does not interfere with your standard processing.  Microsoft Dynamics GP has key processes that need to process in order to ensure data integrity.  Your customization must not interfere with the key processes.

Is upgradable with the standard Microsoft Dynamics GP functionality.

The last item I would like to discuss in this blog is the customization’s upgradability.  Microsoft has developed tools to upgrade your system and database to ensure your ERP system can grow with you.  If you customize, you want to make sure your customization can upgrade also.

When you use the internal processes within Microsoft Dynamics GP to customize your system, they should upgrade as well.  Most third-party additions have upgrade paths as well to ensure the reliability of your system.

Looking for help navigating this issue of customization vs. standard in GP?

Contact us. At KTL Solutions, we easily deliver the right tools and at an affordable cost.

As a technology consulting firm, and a Microsoft Certified Gold Partner, we offer total solutions with a variety of services, add-on software products, and software development for any organization’s unique needs.

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