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Level Blog

3 min read

Vanilla is no longer the only ERP flavour

Feb 1, 2019 10:00:00 AM

For over 30 years, ERP and CRM Software vendors have been dictating to companies how to run their business and warning of the perils of not doing it THEIR WAY under the banner of “configure, don’t customise.”

Cognitive Agents are helping companies to take back control and run their businesses how THEY want to.

Configure, Don't Customize Rule

The number one, never-to-be-broken, golden rule of Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) Software Applications is “configure, don’t customise.” It has been a core principle since ERP and CRM systems became mainstream in the early 90’s and is still just as true today, if not even more so in the world of Cloud-based software.

If you Google “why software implementations fail” you will find “customisation” on the top 5 list every time. As ERP In News puts it in their excellent article Why Vanilla is the Best Flavour for ERP:

“The disaster stories of failed ERP implementations are quite popular and most of the times over expectations from the solution or extreme customization is to be blamed for project failures.”

Businesses have dutifully and painful gone about changing their business processes to fit what came out of the software box or they’ve paid systems integrators a small fortune to corrupt the product to the point where the vendor no longer recognises it.

Unsurprisingly, the systems integrators made a tidy sum from these customisations and were all too willing to work through a long list of application code changes to give the customer the system they wanted, while keeping only a cursory eye on the cost of supporting the unique setup over the years to come.

“Most organizations fear customization yet most fail to implement ERP software without customizing it”

Don't settle for the "workaround"

But you can only bend the system so far and the consequence has been an explosion in the dreaded “workaround”; businesses’ operations running vast, uncontrolled lists and spreadsheets in order to continue to do business the way they want to (and how their policies say to) but also having to satisfy “the computer.” 

These workarounds are supported by armies of operational staff who have become experts in how to “get around the system” and pass on the knowledge of the super-spreadsheet from recruit to new recruit.

“Customization carries with it heavy costs that make it a good idea not to write custom code if you can possibly help it.”

But what choice did businesses have? Either minimise their customisations and employ admin armies or build their own bespoke IT systems and create their own software development house.

The Cognitive Advantage

Finally, there is a new way for companies to have the best of both worlds; Cognitive Agents are increasingly allowing businesses to rapidly build Intelligent Applications that mirror what the admin armies do, the decisions they make and how they work – but without having to change or replace the monolithic transactional systems of record. These Cognitive Agents sit alongside the ERP and CRM systems but imitate the agent, giving employees a break from the endless admin work. This provides them with more time to do the valuable work the company wants them to do and which they tend to enjoy, such as procurement agents spending more time actually meeting suppliers, sales staff actually spending more time selling, HR business partners actually spending more time supporting managers…the list is endless.

Critically, though, these Cognitive Agents can imitate the agent faster, more cost-effectively and consistently every time, which allows the business to grow without hiring more recruits to the admin army.

It’s time to do business your way.

See how level global can help take back control and do business your way.

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Saul Spearing
Written by Saul Spearing

Saul is Regional Vice President, Sales Operations at Level Global. He has 23 years' experience in Sales & Sales Director roles in the IT industry, working for some of the world’s largest software companies including Oracle, SAS Institute and Sage. Saul is responsible for Level’s Sales Operations including sales strategy and talent acquisition.