How do you win in business? Be the same as the competition, or be better?
At first sight this seems a fairly easy question with a pretty obvious answer.
But what happens when you consider it in the context of getting a new ERP system?
There is a comprehensive range of solutions available some generalist in nature, some
industry-specific. Some are written in a manner that deters modification whereas others embrace local customisation. Some are aimed at larger organisations and others at SMEs.
However, there is a middle ground of businesses where many of the more general systems with a broad spectrum of functionality will expect to provide a reasonable solution.
So, let’s consider a couple of the main differentiators in system purchase philosophy.
1. If I go for the most commonly used system, it must be able to suit my business.
2. The system’s processes represent best practice so I should change my business to suit.
So let’s now re-consider that question I posed at the start. The philosophy above suggests you want to be the same as everyone else. Follow the same business processes, work in the same way. Immediately that cuts out one possible means of differentiating yourself from the competition, destroys potential competitive advantage.
Therefore, should we not strive for what makes our organisation different? Search out the system that works smarter than the standard. Search out the system that can work the way I have proven works in my company.
Don’t get me wrong, I know most companies have some pretty inefficient processes that have remained that way for historical purposes. “That’s the way we’ve always done it” Even when they were using pen and paper. But those instances are easy to spot and most companies recognise where they need to make these changes.
What I am talking about is the methods of working that have been honed over many years to provide an excellent service to your customers. Specific industries have special ways of working which are sometimes covered by industry-specific systems. But these days, with the advent of mass-customisation and consumerism, the edges are being blurred between industries which means companies must learn from each other and have the confidence to forge their own methods of working.
So customisation, far from being a dirty word these days, is now the means of achieving lasting competitive advantage. With improved software engineering, customisations are no longer a burden to an ERP system, but can prove a massive advantage to the client.