We’ve been involved in the design, development and implementation of enterprise- level software for over 20 years, which is why our team of experts put together this 10-part series on evaluating Enterprise-level software. We’ll cover topics ranging from security, data collection and reporting requirements, implementation resources, pricing / cost models and more, to ensure your next enterprise software deployment is a success. You can also download the entire Evaluating Enterprise-level Software whitepaper here.
Last week we looked at the importance of knowing your data integration requirements before considering new Enterprise Software. Does the solution meet your data integration needs? Let’s move on to how the software can be customized for your business.
When evaluating an enterprise-level software solution for your company, another key factor to consider is customization and the needs of your own team compared to the features of the solution in question.
Customized… or “out of the box” ready for all your needs?
Of course, if customization is not possible, then you must make sure that the solution in question meets virtually all your foreseeable needs right ‘out of the box’. If it doesn’t meet 100% of your needs, make sure that any needs not met i.e. features not available (especially reporting) are not critical to the success of your project
Who will customize the solution?
If, as is the case with most enterprise-level solutions, customization is possible, make sure you understand what can be customised by your own project team and System Administrators and what must be customized by the solution provider themselves.
Also, in instances where only the solution provider can customize, make sure the scope and cost for that customization are within your budget and ensure that the provider is responsive to your needs and that they can be met in a timely fashion.
Can you access the data you need?
Another key factor related to customization is reporting. While most enterprise-level software solutions now have a wide range of reporting options, the larger the business the more likely you will have unique and unavoidable reporting requirements not met by standard canned report options. From monthly Executive Management Reports to Department-Specific KPI reports, make sure the key data you need can actually be provided and if not, is custom reporting offered to meet your needs?
Can it meet most of the needs of your users over time?
Lastly, and as it is unlikely any enterprise solution will even meet 100% of the needs of 100% of its users – and your needs will likely mature and change over time – you should ensure that at least some customization is possible even if not needed in the earlier stages of your project.
Remember though, when it comes to customization, increased customizability of a software solution typically means an increased level of user training and product knowledge will be required and thus there is ultimately a natural trade off (and inverse relationship between) customizability and ease of use.
Here are some additional things to consider with respect to customization:
- Does the solution meet 100% of your project’s needs and if not, is customization possible?
- If customization is possible, how much can your team (i.e. your team’s System Administrators) change on their own and how much must be customized by your solution provider?
- If your solution provider must do some or all of the customization required, how much do they charge, is that within your project budget and how long will that customization take for delivery?
- Does the solution provide custom reporting options if needed?
- Is there a comfortable balance between customizability and ease of use for your team?
- Can you customize the look and feel of the solution to match that of your company’s own logos and colors to increase user acceptance, uptake and thus project success?
- Are you able to customize and define that the access privileges your users will need – enterprise-wide? While some enterprise-level solutions let your Administrators define exactly where users have access and exactly what type of access (view, edit, delete) they have, many solutions only allow for the use of canned or set access privileges.
Next week, we’ll continue our series on evaluating enterprise software by exploring whether the software you’re evaluating can be used for multiple purposes.
Ps. if you want access to the full whitepaper today, you can download it here.