How Can Businesses Make the Most of Bespoke ERP?
Bespoke ERP software refers to any custom-built application that is effectively written from the ground up to suit the particular needs of a company. Predominantly the remit of large, complex organisations with big budgets and very specific requirements, it is still seen by some companies as the right investment for them. But there are other options available today that we want to demystify for you in this blog.
With the advancement of technology, many out-of-the-box, flexible and modern ERP software solutions on the market today now incorporate customisation tools tailored functionality. And with a wide variety of industry-specific solutions available, it is now easier than ever to get an ERP system that caters for your particular needs. And all without the cost and time required to build and maintrain a fully bespoke ERP solution from scratch.
So how can you make the most of these new customisable, off-the-shelf ERP solutions? We discuss this and highlight the benefits of bespoke ERP in this blog. We also briefly outline the pros and cons of packaged ERP vs bespoke ERP and offer some advice when deciding which option is right for you.
- What is Bespoke ERP?
- What Are the Benefits of Implementing Bespoke ERP?
- Package vs Bespoke ERP: Which is Right for Your Business?
- How to Implement a Bespoke ERP System
- Key Takeaways
What is Bespoke ERP?
Bespoke ERP (also known as customised software or tailor-made software) refers to ERP software that is specifically developed for a client or organisation to meet their exact requirements. Often built from the ground up using the company’s own resources and dedication, it is tailored to accomplish their own specific business processes and goals.
Traditionally, bespoke ERP was seen by large or complex organisations as their only route to accommodating their particular preferences and expectations. Commercial off-the-shelf solutions were often found to fall short of their requirements.
Times have changed however and technology has advanced tenfold. The lines between a fully-bespoke ERP software that’s been built from scratch and an out-of-the-box solution that can been tailored to meet your specific needs has narrowed massively in recent times.
Today there is little requirement to build a Bespoke ERP solution from the ground up. Many modern ERP solutions now offer off-the-shelf ‘Bespoke’ or ‘custom-made’ functionality features that go beyond generic ‘one-size-fits-all’ ERP solutions. They offer industry-specific ERP software that provides all the essential tools for accounting, finance and business management. But they also offer features and capabilities tailored to your industry and operational needs. Some go even further with in-built personalisation tools that empower you to configure your own rules and controls without having to revert back to your vendor. And this is where you can really make the most of these new-age bespoke ERP systems.
For the purpose of this blog therefore, when we refer to ‘bespoke ERP’, we will predominantly be referring to modern-day, out-of-the-box, flexible ERP software that comes with customisation and personalisation tools that can be tweaked to your specific needs.
What Are the Benefits of Implementing Bespoke ERP?
With the flexibility provided by the latest ERP software solutions, it is now possible to get the best of both worlds; a standard ‘out-of-the-box’ configuration that comes pre-loaded with industry specific functions and features that can also be quickly and cost-effectively customised to suit your exact needs. And the benefits are huge:
Make it personal and productive – Modern, flexible ERP software gives you the tools to easily customise each employees’ screens to ensure minimum keystrokes whilst restricting their access to only what they need. This way, you create a more empowered and productive workforce whilst maintaining maximum control through end user security policies.
Automate and save time – Business specific workflows, triggered alerts, scheduled reporting, user-specific dashboards, security policies, audit trails etc. set up by you can enable you to manage by exception and save users many man-hours trawling through data or reviewing manual business controls.
Integrate with ease – With cutting-edge REST APIs, you can quickly, easily and seamlessly implement best-in-breed solutions for any specific problems not addressed by your ERP, e.g. unique warehouse functions or logistics etc.
Easily Extend and Scale - Modern bespoke ERP platforms are robust, flexible and configurable. They can adapt to the ever-changing needs of a growing business enabling you to quickly and easily meet market challenges, pivot and take advantage of new opportunities. Solutions such as Intact iQ allow you to make changes to your system without impacting your upgrade path and we provide you with the training required so you can implement these changes yourself in a secure, controlled manner.
Embrace ecommerce and mobility. Today’s ERP systems embrace all things ecommerce and mobile with webshops, customer account portals, mobile apps etc. all easily added to and seamlessly integrated into your solution.
Package vs Bespoke ERP: Which is Right for Your Business?
Every business is unique. They come in all different shapes and sizes, supply every conceivable industry and serve an endless array of clients. For that reason, many companies went down the route of developing a totally custom, bespoke ERP software solution. Commercial, out-of-the-box or off-the-shelf ERP solutions were often found to be too restrictive and required fitting their business into a one-size-fits-all package. This is no longer the case. There is a wide variety of out-of-the-box solutions that incorporate customisable tools and tailored functionality to the mid-market. And you can clearly see in our pros and cons list below, that packaged ERP now compares very favourably against traditional bespoke ERP.
- Individually crafted solution
- You own the software and pay no licence costs or maintenance
- You can continue to develop upon it as you grow and scale or as your needs change
- It can be expensive and time-consuming with no guarantee that it will be a success
- If further development or tailoring is required, including integrating with 3rd party platforms or satisfying new regulations, the costs can be significant
- On-going testing is required to ensure it functions as expected
- The upgrade path can be complex and costly
- In-house skilled personnel is a prerequisite
- Narrow vendor pool
- Flexibility claims can be superficial to win the sale
- Wide range of solutions available with some catering for industry specific nuances
- Tried and Tested in the marketplace
- Generally accommodate a range of functionality, configuration and customisation capabilities.
- Out-of-the-box solutions tend to be easier to implement and more cost-effective
- Systems are supported, documented and an upgrade path is available
- Often sold on a module basis so you only pay for what you need. When required additional functionality can be quickly and easily added, including ecommerce, mobile and 3rd party platforms
- Regulatory compliance is provided and usually free of charge
- You can upgrade with zero restrictions (but please check with your vendor as this may not be true for all)
- The ERP vendor owns the software
- The capex model can be an expensive outlay initially. It is however worth asking your vendor if they offer SaaS options.
- Out-of-the-box ERPs usually can’t fulfil all business requirements as they are built for a mass market rather than a specific company. REST APIs would be vital here in order to seamlessly integrate best-of-breed solutions.
Implementing or changing an ERP system takes time and a lot of planning. That’s why we’ve written an eBook on it! But once you’ve got your planning out of the way, and you’ve selected an ERP software and provider, you’re ready to implement your new system.
And while we can’t comment on the implementation processes undertaken by any other vendors bar ourselves, we thought you might find it helpful if we outlined the steps we go through with our customers.
Business Process Review – Here we spend time understanding how our client’s business operates. What’s working? What needs improving? This enables both teams (theirs and ours) to design and sign off on a scope of works for their project. From here we can map out their project journey with accuracy and clarity. Don’t rush this part of the process.
System Design - Our team designs and builds a business software solution that’s the perfect fit for our customer’s business. The outputs from phase one form the basis for how their system should be configured to reflect their settings, forms designs, reports, process workflows, ledger settings etc. During this phase individual user/role/company interfaces are personalised.
Pilot Phase - To ensure adequate functionality is in place for go-live, their Intact consultant will lead each department head through their business processes in Intact iQ. This is done in test mode using sample transactions.
User Acceptance Testing - To enable a smooth transition to the new system, the client’s project team get to use the system. This is their opportunity to get first-hand experience with the system and note any revisions. We encourage them to ask questions and gain a deep understanding of the software and how it is configured to support their business.
Operational Readiness - Now that the system has been checked, piloted and tested by their project team, we prepare their business to transition to their new system. This entails a final check and tidy of their system and sign off on items such as forms and screens. We also ensure sufficient end user training has taken place and that all hardware/ printers are in place.
Go Live – Our customers officially ‘go-live’ once we have completed the detailed implementation plan. Our Pro-Serve Consultant Team are onsite assisting and monitoring their success with the solution and providing any necessary assistance to ensure business operations are not disrupted.
Hypercare – Our consultants close out any remaining scope of work items, address any teething problems, facilitate month-end and handover the project to our customer success office.
Bespoke ERP has, in the past, had a bad rap. And rightly so. It was expensive and time-consuming with no guarantee of success.
But standard ERP software solutions have evolved massively, providing greater flexibility, customisation and integration capabilities.
There is no need now to think that building a bespoke ERP software from scratch is the only way forward for a business looking to cater for unique requirements.
There are a wide variety of options out there today including industry-specific or vertical-specific solutions that are built for your sector and satisfy industry nuances.
However, if you are looking to gain a competitive advantage through a standard, out-of-the-box ERP, it’s important to ask from the outset what capabilities your software has and the vendor’s process in providing them.
Not all are built on the latest technologies or included codeless customisation tools such as Nexus, Intact iQ’s tool that empowers your system admins to manage by exception using the ‘If This, Then That’ principle.
Therefore, if you’re looking to make the most of bespoke ERP software, our advice is to do your research, select an industry specific software package that enables you to start with the functionality you need today and scale with additional functionality when ready.
But more importantly ensure your system offers advanced levels of control and autonomy to facilitate continuous improvement and extends the life of your system.
We hope you found this blog useful. If you are still wondering whether your current business software is fit-for-purpose you can click here to take our quick ERP needs analysis test and find out if your current ERP or business software system leaves you open to failure or destined for growth.