ECI Software Solutions Comment: Q4 2022

As customers, we’ve grown to expect a certain level of flexibility and adaptability from brands. Whether that’s flexibility around regular payment dates for things such as utility bills or the chance to qualify for special offers in exchange for our long-term loyalty.

The situation is no different when thinking specifically about the builders’ merchant industry. Whether we strike a deal on price, secure a bulk buy discount, or negotiate a preferable timescale in which an order can be fulfilled, we expect the brands we work with to adapt to our specific needs.

Regarding business management software, we often approach purchasing decisions similarly, expecting flexibility and a customised package or a deal based on individual business requirements. However, this often leads to significant unforeseen problems.

Consider the likes of Ford and McDonald’s – two brands that have successfully rolled out millions of virtually identically evolving products through thousands of identical production lines and do so far more consistently and at a lower cost than their luxury counterparts, Maserati and Michelin star-accredited restaurants. But why?

The answer is that standardisation is your friend when it comes to the consistency of experience. In contrast, highly customised business management systems create complications and inefficiencies because customisation significantly reduces the number of people who understand how the software works.

Over time, customised software is harder to support and upgrade and will often miss out on product upgrades or updates simply because the system is too bespoke.

As I’ve previously said, you can’t digitalise spaghetti, and that’s another common pitfall for those wanting software to meet their existing paper processes. Those that attempt to build their business management software around legacy processes that have been in place for decades risk exacerbating their problems. Instead, businesses need to engage with a vendor that will help them take a genuinely digital-first approach.

That’s why world-class software is not customisable. Instead, it’s hugely configurable, with specialist feature flags and a rapid development cadence. It’s possible because resources are busy building new features for every customer simultaneously instead of wasting time supporting numerous bespoke and complex customisations for individuals.

When asking for software customisations, it’s worth keeping an old saying in mind: Be careful what you wish for.

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