Is It Time to Retire Your 'Homegrown' ERP System?

Raymond Hill - Monday, September 17, 2018


Here are some reasons companies should seriously consider it.

Vulnerability and isolation of knowledge
Using a homegrown solution can raise numerous challenges. For example, what happens if your IT director is no longer with the company? Or the programmers who developed the original application move on to other projects, other jobs, or retirement? You may be coding in yesterday’s technology, and will find it hard to replace resources who are familiar with and competent in those environments.
Immediacy and breadth of data
Even if you were to successfully reface your homegrown system to a modern graphical user interface and port to a relational database, you will still be technically challenged by the core foundation of a custom system’s millions of lines of business code. Moreover, a homegrown solution is unlikely to include some of the advanced data capabilities of modern ERP systems.
Data duplication and discrepancies
It can be quite challenging for company employees to get the data they need directly from a homegrown solution. If you plan to port data on a nightly basis to a data warehouse on an open database like Microsoft SQL Server for reporting, there may be data discrepancies between your legacy system and the data warehouse.
Lack of testing
Homegrown systems clearly are not receiving the benefits of other leading distributors’ knowledge and experiences. On the other hand, an ERP software company has to sell its solution to thousands of customers and end users. This means there are many more end users involved in the beta testing and ensuring the software does what it needs to do before it is released.
Lack of vision/new advances
Up until the year 2000, it was fairly common for companies to write their own business systems, as it was believed this provided a competitive edge. Now, however, technology is evolving at an exponential pace, making it nearly impossible for small IT shops to keep up with the changes in solutions that a business needs to remain competitive. A company with an in-house IT staff for its custom system is actually at a competitive disadvantage today.
Shortcomings in systems architecture that lead to workarounds and patches based on “tribal knowledge”
In most cases, employees want systems to meet their immediate needs, and they want things “yesterday, at the latest.” When IT doesn’t deliver, employees are apt to create various workarounds, causing the company to lose the economies of scale that can be achieved by having everyone adopt standard operating procedures.
Maintaining your homegrown solution may be costlier than you think
While on the surface, remaining on a homegrown system may appear to be the least risky choice, there are many underlying challenges and trade-offs associated with your current custom system environment—and there is often a price tag attached.
No learning management system to maximize employee adoption and utilization
The average end user’s utilization of an in-house system is typically lower than on a standardized ERP, due to most of the inner workings of the system being “tribal knowledge,” as noted above. Companies typically don’t hire professional writers, so they have limited online help screens. They also rarely have comprehensive user manuals or documentation for end users to easily understand how the programs and forecasting logic work. When people don’t understand the system, they don’t use it as frequently or efficiently.
Lack of ability to easily integrate with other leading technology solutions
Your homegrown solution may not play well with others. In particular, if it cannot integrate with an eCommerce storefront, you may be unable to offer customer-specific pricing and pull other ERP data into your online store without extensive duplicate data entry or custom development work.

These are just a few major reasons you should seriously consider a consultation from Dynamics Southwest.