This blog will cover the top 12 steps to ensure successful software implementation. The first four steps, Planning, Process Design, Solution Design and Configuration were discussed in my previous blog posts.
This post is about Customization, which I describe as time spent to construct any aspects of the solution unique to the business as determined during Process and Solution Design. The outcome of customization is a software solution that delivers on your specific business requirements.
As mentioned in the previous blog post, some of your requirements will be fulfilled immediately upon installation and others once the configuration is done. The remaining requirements will need to be fulfilled with customization. Customization involves adding new fields, screens, and processes to the software that were not part of the system when it was installed and configured. For example, if you are implementing a Customer Management system you may want new customers to receive a welcome email when they are added to your system. The content of the welcome email would be specific to your requirements. If you are implementing a Financial System you may want prices to be charged on a product/customer matrix that is unique to your business and cannot be configured using the standard pricing in the software.
Customization adds unique capabilities that were not in the system when it was installed. System customization can range from the simple addition of a new field to hold dates or text information all the way to the addition of complete business processes. There are well-documented risks to over customizing a system and making it difficult to use and/or difficult to upgrade. Customizations should only be used when they provide quantifiable business value and return on investment. If a customization is overly complex, expensive or does not provide enough value, then alternatives should be considered. These include enhanced configuration, workarounds, integrations or reports.
What you will find when you are finished customizing the software is that it now “works” the way your business needs it to work. To have a complete solution you may still require reports and integrations to be created. These two topics will be covered in my next blog posts.
For more insight into software implementation best practices, download BDO’s article, “Barriers to Implementing New Technology”.