Sandbox ERP: Why Configurable Software is the Wave of the Future
The State of ERP Customization
For years ERP customization was considered essential to any successful ERP software implementation. It was simply understood that in order to get the system you wanted for your company you had to shell out the big bucks and hardcode changes to a product that your business already paid for. In more recent years consumers have grown wise to the risks of ERP customization, as well as the associated labour costs. Customizing an established ERP system is:
- Expensive – Writing and testing custom code gets expensive. Fast.
- Risky –making changes to the code could have catastrophic effects elsewhere, increasing the risks of bugs and crashes
- Hard to maintain – any patch could contain conflicts with custom code and crash the system
- Grueling to upgrade – Upgrades often require more customization in order to function, meaning more money, more risk, and more maintenance
So wouldn’t it be great if you could find an ERP system that fit every criterion on your checklist and naturally worked with each of your established and unique business processes?
According to a 2015 ERP Report by, Panorama Consulting, this perfect system result is a reality for only 5% of ERP customers who either lucked out or developed the system in house. The other 95% of businesses are left to drudge through the legion of subpar ERP systems on the market hoping to find one that matches at least some of their criteria. After finding the “best system available” these 95% of companies do one of 2 things: Adapt their business processes around the system so that they can use it as-is, or customize the hardcode of the out-of-the-box system so that it suits their business processes and delivers their data in a way that fits their business.
If you find yourself within the first batch of people, settling for what you can find and adjusting your processes to match your system, a sandbox ERP system offers the opportunity to say “no mas” to settling for what’s available. And if you fall into the second category, riskily ripping into the code of a product you already purchased just to make it work for you, the flexible nature of a sandbox ERP allows you to tailor your ERP to your needs while avoiding the risk, tedium, and expense of changing the hardcode of your static system.
Sandbox ERP: Replacing Customization with Configuration
So how is a sandbox ERP like Pareto’s PBE3 supposed to save you from the drudgery of ERP customization? Simple. Its not customization at all; its configuration. Now on the surface these terms may hold similar meanings to you, but when you get into the nitty-gritty of it you’ll find they aren’t so interchangeable after all. By definition, to customize something is to modify an existing something to suit a particular individual or task, whereas to configure is to design a specific configuration for a certain purpose.
But what does this seemingly negligible difference mean for your ERP implementation? Everything. Customizing the code means making changes to an already established system, like going into your sandwich and scraping off an unwanted condiment to the best of your ability. On the other hand, a configured system never had the unwanted condiment to begin with. The sandwich was made to your specific taste.
Configurable systems (Sandbox ERPs) benefit from:
1. Reduced implementation time
- Implementation can take as little time as a month because no changes to the hardcode or your business are necessary
- Your company working with an implementation specialist from the very start of the process to configure it to your needs
2.Easy (and often free) updates
- Configurable ERP providers install updates to your system without the need for a software developer to edit the hard code at your end
- Most configurable cloud systems offer free updates, included in the subscription cost of the software
3.Much lower cost of ownership
- More stable than customized systems, meaning that you run less of a risk of losing money as a result of system outage.
So How Does It Work?
Out of the box (so to speak), sandbox ERP is a blank canvas ready to hold your entirely unique ERP masterpiece. The sandbox ERP provides you with the paints, brushes and your very own “Bob Ross of IT” to help you paint the perfect ERP system for your business and processes. Now, talking in general terms about how sandbox ERP works below the surface could be difficult, and for that reason let’s focus in on the PBE3, the pioneer sandbox ERP system.
The PBE3 brings your workflow to life by giving you, the customer the tools needed to order and shape business process modules to perfectly fit your workflow feng shui. The Pareto team aids you in this venture, using these tools to replicate, and likely improve upon your currently implemented system(s), creating a workflow diagram that represents your processes.
This workflow diagram is designed to dictate to the system how it functions, including what information goes from one event to another, what documents are created following specific events, who is involved at each step of the process, where information is displayed, and much, much more. The system is unable to do anything without this workflow explicitly telling it to, making you the architect of your ERP system blueprints. Its your decision and PBE3’s tools. For example:
- if you want to see “Sales Orders” as a button on the navigation panel, you simply go into the sales order event on the workflow diagram and check off “appear on menu”, and It is honestly as simple as checking a box – no code required
- if you don’t want to see field “X” until field “Y” is populated, the logic can easily be added to field X. If you wanted, you could also have the value “X” autofill when a value is given to “Y”
- Or let’s say you wanted to know if a product is marked as removed from inventory when it is delivered or upon invoicing you can use the workflow to decide this yourself
Joining the Sandbox
So, by taking these daring steps away from the hardcoded implementation of the past into a configurable, modular future, sandbox ERP systems represent a new beginning for ERP customization. Using an intuitive network of connected business process modules, configured and built up from a business process map sandbox ERP systems have proven themselves to be a revolutionary way of writing businesses software that can directly reflect almost any business’s unique needs and processes.
So, if a sandbox ERP is capable of all of this, why haven’t I heard of it before? Well in the words of Hymann Rickover, “Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous patience.”