In the ERP space, we talk a lot of “customization”. Often, certain fields, reports, and screens need to be tweaked to make the end-user experience more enjoyable and to fulfill a specific business goal.
We tend to call these customizations but really, they are configurations.
This brings me to my first tip…
Tip #1- Identify Customizations vs. Configurations
The first tip is to identify whether something really needs to be customized. Maybe it could be handled with a simple configuration. But… what is the difference?
Customize is defined as “modify[ing] to suit a particular individual or task”. Configure is defined as “arrang[ing] or order[ing] so as to fit it for a designated task”. While these terms are very similar, in regard to software implementation, they mean completely different things.
In software development, when we talk about customization, we are generally referring to something that is an update, a change or new piece of code. Customizations alter the way the system natively functions. True customization will be done by a business software developer and it will change the way the system functions and behaves.
On the other hand, when configurations are mentioned, these changes are considered simple set-ups in a system. To configure is to make the system work for the end user’s day to day task. This could be changing the layout of a screen, renaming a filed, etc. These changes can be done by a consultant and do not require any new code to be developed.
Taking your requirements and parsing out customization and configurations will save you so much pain and time. Be sure to know up front what you are going into, and from there you can assign tasks and reach out to developers accordingly.
Tip #2- Make Sure There Isn’t a Third Party That Does “that”
If you look at the Microsoft Dynamics ERP Space, there are thousands of third-party tools available. Many of these solutions are simple add-ons to make a change or streamline a process inside the ERP system, like our KTL FASTAP.
Other tools are much more intensive systems, like Solver BI360 for CPM, PaperSave for Document Management, or Integrity Data for ACA Reporting.
The fact remains, when you are looking into customization, it is important to explore the market. Look into COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) products.
Instead of jumping into hiring a developer right away, take your time, you may find that a simple COTS product can accomplish what you need.
Tip #3- Design End to End & Document
Often, we get new Dynamics GP customers who have had other partners who customize the system for them. All too often, we get started on upgrades and find undocumented code in the system. This is a huge issue as we do not know what this code affects and how it will work in an upgrade situation.
If you are having your system customized, you should request that the developer first give you an end to end design document. Once the customization has been upgraded and completed, they should provide you with all of the documentation related to the customization. Also, they should provide you with the source code files.
With these few tips in mind, every ERP customization should be a successful one!
If you have any questions about this process or want to learn more about KTL Solutions and what we offer. Feel free to get in touch with us today, we’re here to help.