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Own ERP Best Practices, but Don’t be a Slave to Them

Posted on 16 May 2014 by Odete Passingham

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Some ERP companies like to say that the way their ERP does things is a best practice, and that businesses should therefore conform to their system.

The International Standards Organization (ISO) is an example of an authority on standards or best practices. Their members debate on standards for months, and not until two thirds vote in favour is the standard adopted as an ISO standard. The point being that best practice surrounding any process is a matter for thoughtful analysis of the particular practice.

I’m sure many businesses benefit from following these so-called best practices, but pretending that there’s only one right way to run a business is like saying all businesses are the same.

Call me a cynic, but when an ERP company says that the world should do things the way they say, I see good marketing covering for an inflexible product rather than solid business advice.

Best practices is an imprecise term. We should really call them what they are, an easy way to pre-configured ERP systems to support the ERP functions.

SYSPRO just celebrated our 35th anniversary. Our lineage traces back to the prehistory of ERP. Your industry may have evolved over a longer period as have your business practices. In a lot of situations, you will have business systems in place that are designed to meet niche needs.

Music fans may recognize one of our clients, the cymbal maker Sabian (pdf). Sabian’s manufacturing processes are a secret. The founder is a member of the Zildjian family which has kept their processes and alloys a secret since the times of the Ottoman Empire. They are part of a rich manufacturing history that has refined and evolved over time. Sabian has customized SYSPRO to suit their mature manufacturing processes over the years.

While your business probably doesn’t have the same kind of history and secrecy as Sabian, there’s a very good chance that your processes have been refined over time and there are some things that you do that you probably know better than anyone at SYSPRO or any other ERP vendor.

There are things that ERP systems do better than your custom processes. Usually it’s the stuff that everyone else has to do like managing inventory and suppliers and people.

So should you conform to your system or customize it?

That decision depends on how important your custom software and processes are to your business. The less you need to customize, the less ERP will cost you. But you will want to weigh these ERP costs, against the costs to your business.

Just don’t let people waving best practices in your face distract you from your business goal.

 

Topics: SYSPRO, business process, Business software, ERP, custom software, Best Practices


Odete Passingham

Odete is Marketing Director at SYSPRO Canada, where she joined the company in 1998. In her current role, Odete is responsible for building & strengthening the relationship between SYSPRO, their customers and prospective customers. Her efforts to promote the adoption of SYSPRO encourage growth of supportive relationships and community – something which she holds near and dear to her heart. Odete believes that in these days of ubiquitous communication, SYSPRO users themselves, their stories and successes, are some of the company’s most effective and important marketing assets. (NOT commodities)

Over the years Odete has worked extensively on the “softer” side of the ERP equation. She was employed by a SYSPRO VAR, and by an SAP and Microsoft VAR. Contrasting the two experiences made her appreciate the value that customers receive from a company committed to a single solution – where SYSPRO boasts one of the highest levels of customer retention in the industry. Odete strongly believes that such longevity is a factor in fostering a sense of community – which ultimately fosters retention.

Odete holds a Bachelors degree in History and an APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional certificate. Having immigrated to Canada as a child from Pico, a tiny island in the Portuguese Azores, Odete feels compelled to create connections and seek clarity in communications. Above all, she has a strong conviction that self-sufficiency and community are compatible ideals, each stronger for the presence of the other.

In her free time Odete enjoys her dog Barley and kayaking...but never together.

 

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