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SaaS ERP customization vs. out of the box: Pros, cons

Companies considering SaaS ERP should weigh various factors when deciding on customization vs. out of the box. Learn what to consider when making the choice.

SaaS ERP software appeals to many companies because of the perceived reduction in support costs. However, some organizations considering SaaS ERP may find a system isn't a perfect fit and begin looking into customization. Company leaders should be aware of customization's advantages and disadvantages before embarking on it.

One of SaaS ERP software's biggest benefits is that it's generally ready for use once an organization selects it. Some software may require some basic configurations up front, but organizations can generally use it out of the box, and it can support companies that specialize in manufacturing, retail, accounting and other areas. However, some organizations may opt to customize their platform to add needed support for additional data elements and automations. 

Here's what to consider when deciding on SaaS ERP customization vs. out of the box.

SaaS ERP out of the box

Organizations looking to minimize their ERP costs should likely use SaaS ERP out of the box. Doing so can also increase platform adoption speed, as the company won't need to wait for the system customization.

In addition, the organization can use the SaaS ERP vendor's training material and videos without needing to modify them, since the company is adopting the system as is. That will also improve turnaround time for adoption and user training.

However, the lack of customization means companies may need to redesign their unique business processes around their SaaS ERP.

Customized SaaS ERP

Some companies decide that the out-of-the-box SaaS ERP system is insufficient for their business needs and move forward with customization. Customization involves developing additional integrations, tools and reports or making some system changes. For example, a manufacturer may decide to customize some of their SaaS ERP inventory forms to provide support for additional custom fields that track specific items such as allergens, unit of measure or expiration date.

However, one disadvantage of customizing SaaS ERP is the process length. In addition, when the ERP vendor releases new updates, the updates may conflict with a company's custom code. When ERP vendors release new software versions, third-party integrators must often scramble to test their code and functionality with the newer versions. While this usually happens over a long period of time, allowing users and vendors to test and upgrade their code, application errors and crashes can occur due to unsupported code.

Companies considering SaaS ERP customization should also look into the costs of code changes. Code changes generally require integration vendors that develop and support the customization.

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