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Industry-specific ERP products galore

A large number of players are currently in the market today in the ERP segment. Though some of these ERP solutions are tailor-made for certain industry segments only, most solutions are designed to cover a range of industry segments.

The extent of customization/configuration and modification of these packages mostly depend on the particular ERP solution shortlisted for implementation and its applicability for a particular organization, as well as the extent in which the organization is willing to change its business processes.

ERP systems do not neatly fit the traditional distinction between custom-built software and 'off-the-shelf' package in several aspects. First, the ERP packages are much broader than that of early enterprise solutions. ERP packages integrate many formerly discrete applications around a common database. They enable the adapters to integrate data and processes throughout the organization and they support nearly all functions.

This means that they are much more complex than traditional packages requiring more knowledge, effort and skill to adapt them to the characteristics of a particular organization. Second, ERP packages allow for a great deal more flexibility in the way a company operates than traditional packages do. In traditional packages, business processes and procedures are hard-coded making them inflexible. Adapting them to the unique business procedures of a particular organization usually requires modifications in the package code. It should be noted that modifying ERP packages is often strongly discouraged. Mostly, the vendors may refuse to make changes themselves, claiming high development and maintenance costs and low market demand.

However, because of the way ERP packages are designed, some customization/modification is always required to get them up and running. But the extent of the above customization/modification may vary from one organization to the other.

One factor is the degree of fit between the features and functionalities of the selected ERP package and the business processes of the organization. In addition, where the functionality of the ERP package for a particular organization does not match, specific 'bolt-on' solutions are also available. Bolt-ons are extensive modification of a basic ERP package developed by a third party, independent software vendor, under licensed agreement with the original vendor).