Considering an enterprise solution vs customized software for your business?
Most businesses talk a lot about wanting to work more efficiently. Meanwhile, their workers are frustrated by dealing with everyday, mundane tasks. Technology should help your organization, but it can only do so if it's intuitive, streamlined, and right for your needs. Otherwise, workers can’t maximize the functionality of the systems they use to do their jobs. If you find that your systems are getting in the way of productivity rather than enhancing it, you probably already know you need something else to help you run your business, but how do you choose the right enterprise software solution to implement?
“Out of the box” enterprise software packages are one option, and these types of solutions are often advertised as a one-size-fits all solution for businesses: You can get your entire company on track with one solution! Not only that, but hundreds if not thousands of other companies are using the exact same software. What could be better?
Well, it may not surprise you to hear that a solution marketed as “one size fits all” doesn’t actually fit all, or even most companies. Businesses can end up molding themselves into a box as they adapt to using the wrong software every day. Your other option is a customized system specifically built for how you do business, which may be used in addition to enterprise software or on its own. A custom software project can be a complex process, so many businesses still opt for pre-packaged, popular enterprise software. Will a one-size-fits-all solution fit your organization? Before you decide how to proceed with your software choice, here are 5 truths about enterprise software you should know.
1. Some industries move too fast for enterprise software to keep up
Some industries seem to be changing at the speed of light. Finance and healthcare, for example, are benefitting from new advances in technology but are also affected by ever-changing government and industry regulations that make it harder for technology to stay compliant. How dynamic is enterprise software when it comes to industry overhauls? Not very. If you’re investing a lot of money in your software for an all-purpose system, you want some assurance it won’t be obsolete in a year. If your software can’t keep up with the times (and adapt to changes specific to your industry when needed), your competitors will have an advantage over you when it comes to how they work or the experience they can provide to customers.
Some enterprise software systems offer ongoing support and updates, but they often charge you large sums to upgrade the entire system with functionality you don’t actually need for your business. The worst case scenario is that you invest in a solution that only runs with specific operating systems and becomes outdated (and unsupported) within a few years, initiating another round of costly investments - or leaving your employees dealing with old computer systems that can’t be integrated or easily replicated.
2. The roll out might seem easier, but you end up rolling out functionality that is never used
Enterprise software is built as a one-size-fits all solution, containing many different features all packaged together in a single product. This makes it seem easy to get up and running: you either install it on all of your computer systems or use a cloud-based application with personal login information.
How much of that software are you using, though? Users might be in the system and start playing around ASAP, but have they been sufficiently trained on all aspects of the enterprise software prior to launch? More importantly, will they ever use all of the elements offered? Undoubtedly, an enterprise solution offers elements that aren’t relevant to your business but are built into the system because they are appealing to someone else’s business… somewhere.
If you try to customize a solution, rather than deal with off-the-shelf enterprise software, it may take several weeks or months, but personalized software allows you to only develop and pay for the functionality you need. whereas If you are missing functionality in an enterprise solution, you’ll still end up building it in—or you’ll suffer with inefficient processes. A simple, intuitive system built with only the functions your employees need, makes the software easier to use, and as a result, they’re more likely to actually want to use it.
3. If you really look at enterprise software vs. your business needs, you may find nothing on the market is really a good fit
Although enterprise software solutions claim to be scalable to your business, that normally means they offer functionality that you will never use, and often, you end up paying for that functionality.
Conversely, there could be a few functions you need your software to do but you cannot find an enterprise solution that does them at all, so you settle for the software that does most of what you need it to do while relying on additional systems to accomplish other aspects of your work.
Why source a large, all-in-one enterprise solution when it’s not even all-in-one, but more like all-in-three… or more? Do you really want to run your business the way your software tells you is correct? If everyone is running their company within the exact parameters of certain enterprise software solutions, where is there room for innovation? You need software that is the right fit for your organization so you can run your business the way you want (and need) to.
4. During roll out, you find you need functionality not in the system
Enterprise software is great at selling you the one component you need while trying to get you to ignore what’s not included. Each business is different, and just because their functionality works for some businesses doesn’t mean it's exactly what you need. You’re most likely looking for an enterprise software system in order to eliminate redundancy and increase productivity. It will take a lot of time and work, though, if you have to hack your system with add-ons or use outside options to gain additional functionality.
Not only might you find you need additional software to accomplish small tasks - it might be easier to use another system entirely for larger functions. While your enterprise software likely sold you on the fact that it contained solutions for entire systems like accounting, inventory management, and an HR portal, if it doesn’t function with your current recruiting strategy, you might simply ignore that part of the system in favor of a separate piece of software. Yet you are paying for all this increased functionality - and continuing to use an old and outdated solution that doesn’t share data with your enterprise solution.The key take away here is that people should be more careful with their planning and software selection. It isn't bad if they find an enterprise system they like and can plan to build in missing functionality. it's bad if they realize things are missing during roll out b/c it delays roll out, you might have to abandon the roll out, and/or you keep going with the roll out then figure out how to work in other functions.
Worse yet, when the enterprise system doesn’t run as needed, your employees may take matters into their own hands, hacking together a system of shadow IT solutions that can compromise your system security and become a headache to sort through.
5. It could be more cost-effective to build your own software
Aside from paying for functionality you don’t need with an enterprise solution, you have to pay for pricey add-ons just to get your system to work the way you want. You might also pay for additional solutions for reports and data where your enterprise solution doesn’t offer the functionality you need.
The words “software customization” might make you think of a long, expensive process, but it really should bring to mind images of a highly functioning business environment--where everyone and everything is in synch. A software development company that can provide you with a unique solution will make it effective from day one. Customized also means scalable to your business, adding functionality as needed. Start with a solution to your most pressing need and build more functions in the future. You’ll always get exactly what you need, the way you want it, without bundles of functionality that don’t add value, only confuses your staff, and leaves out key elements of what you’re looking for, discouraging your employees from using it in the first place. Remember that coding gives you a competitive advantage - one of which is cost management.
The alternative to enterprise software
Software should make you feel empowered to run your business. Your specific business processes and goals should be taken into consideration in designing an intuitive portal or dashboard that works specifically for you, your company, and your employees.