Customization vs Configuration in ERP Systems (+ 5 more activities)

When it comes to making your ERP system your own, there are a lot of terms that can get thrown around, including customization and configuration. Your ERP implementation partner will expertly collect your business requirements, and then either configure your system to meet these requirements, or customize your system to meet your needs.

ERP Customization vs ERP Configuration

I like this definition, found on LinkedIn, the best (edited for clarity and grammar):

A customization is a feature, extension, or modification that requires custom coding and/or some form of special implementation. A configuration is when you use native tools in the system to change its behavior or features.

ERP Customization

When you customize an ERP system, you’re building functionality that doesn’t currently exist anywhere in the software.  If your partner didn’t develop this customization for you, you’d probably have a very difficult time achieving the desired outcome. Customization very frequently requires technical software development and coding skills.

  • Requires deep technical and product knowledge
  • Customizations are often unique to your solution
  • Add new features to meet requirements

ERP Configuration

When you configure an ERP system, you’re essentially setting the ERP’s “options”. This might sound easy, but there are A LOT of options and it really helps to have advanced knowledge of an ERP system’s inner workings before configuring them to work in a certain way. ERP partners also have a ton of experience mapping your business requirements to your system confinguration.

  • Requires deep product knowledge
  • Configurations could be carried out identically on any instance of the same ERP software
  • Setup existing features to meet requirements

ERP Customization and Configuration Examples

Here are some examples of the more specific ERP implementation activities, and how they line up to configuration and customization.

Personalization – Mostly Configuration

  • Change field labels utilizing internal nomenclature
  • Creation of roles specific to the organization
  • Creation of business intelligence specific to the organization

Tailoring – Mostly Configuration

  • Modification of existing reports to reflect the business requirements
  • Enhancement of existing interfaces to reflect the business requirement e.g. Hiding of fields, change in flow of field entry that does not impact the business logic
  • Addition of business specific fields or tables for the collection of essential business information that does not impact processing of transactions or calculations

Automation – Some Configuration, Some Customization

  • Development of workflow or Business Process Automation (BPM)
  • Modification of solution process to remove or add steps as per the business requirements
  • Addition of fields or tables to be utilized in performing calculations or automation of processes

Integration – Some Configuration, Some Customization

  • Development of integration points for importing data
  • Development of data exports

Extending – Mostly Customization

  • Development of new functionality within existing modules
  • Development of new solution functionality for specific business requirements outside of existing modules
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