Why ERP Customization isn’t a Dirty Word

Over the years, I have heard many customers and prospective customers suggest that customization is a bad word. People of change, ERP vendors, sometimes customize the software to the nth degree and then struggle to deploy the latest and greatest of their existing platform.

After being in the development world for about 25 years, I sometimes think I have seen it all, only to find, somewhere along the line, that I have not.

It is hard to take all these years of experience and cram them into a single blog about what customization should or should not be. So to at least provide an overview, I will break up my years in this industry as best I can.

In the early 90’s – my daughter calls it the dark ages – we dealt more often than not with data structures not really normalized in a way that suited relational databases. Software was mostly single tiered and character based. It was impossible to change the behavior of an entry form without changing the code.

Time moved on and ERP technology pioneers began to see glimpses of the future with the first GUI based interfaces moving into a multi-tiered environment. The user experience changed but still, to change the behavior of a form, you had to change the back-end code. Everyone had events to execute external processes, but problems arose when a trigger did not exist. And so we customized. Actually as developers we changed the code and thereby gave companies their own personal version of an application.

So, in the dark ages, we didn’t get it right and the word customization was one that turned into a pretty bad word … for good reason.

In today’s world we sometimes still use the word customization when we actually mean personalization. I wrote a blog a while back about what I believe to be the 3 areas where technology applied. The interface or user experience, the back-end logic and of course the data engine. When it comes to personalization, it should never affect the back-end logic or the data engine. This is sacrilege.

It has everything to do with the user experience. This is where SYSPRO often outclasses the competition.

We can change the user experience by inject scripts in the user interface, execute outside applications, process transactions to the database all without customizing the core application. At SYSPRO we call it Power tailoring. Our users have the power to tailor their experiences without having a customized version of SYSPRO. Customers no longer have their own personal versions of the ERP, but users have their tailored experiences that maintain data and application integrity.

SYSPRO has even extended this personalization to our Mobile Platform Espresso.

In all cases SYSPRO has provided these options to allow customers to comfortably move to newer ports and stay in line with latest releases without concern for application and data integrity.

We have also exposed our business logic to external applications via SYSPRO e.net solutions, our Service Oriented Architecture. (SOA) Thus allowing external applications to talk to SYSPRO without undermining the data or application integrity.

So next time you hear the word customization, qualify and clarify the intent … is it to personalize the user experience or to provide a personalized version of your ERP?


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