Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Nobody Does Vanilla

I have a granddaughter who loves ice cream.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, whatever...whenever she sits down at the dining table, she asks for ice cream.  Chocolate, Raspberry, Cookies and Creme, Fudge, Neapolitan, Rocky Road...all flavors are good.  Except vanilla.  Put vanilla ice cream in front of the kid and she would refuse to eat it.  Even to the point of shedding tears over the thought of eating vanilla ice cream.  Because nobody does vanilla.

Ditto for enterprise software.  Nobody does vanilla.  Oh, you'll constantly hear the declarations at the beginning of an implementation project: "no customizations".  I hear that and I consider it to be an edict similar to zero-based budgeting.  It's really a statement that customizations will require justification.  And that justification usually involves preserving an existing business process.  Because nobody wants to change their business processes.  So they tweak the software to fit.  And, because we don't all do business in exactly the same way, that means nobody does vanilla.

All that being said, there is an easy path to minimizing customizations when implementing enterprise software.  Why do you want to minimize customizations?  Because maintaining customizations costs money.  In fact, it's one of the most expensive things you can do when using enterprise software.

So let's talk about that easy path.  Most implementation project plans include two or three Conference Room Pilots ("CRPs").  So stick with vanilla for the first CRP.  No customizations, no extensions, no personalizations.  Just configure the software and run the "baked in" business processes.  Then take a careful look at the results, considering where it makes sense to change your business process to fit the software as well as where to customize in order to fit your business process.  You'll be surprised at how well the vanilla business processes will fit, and how little you'll actually need to customize.

The granddaughter finally got over her dislike for vanilla.  I slipped a spoonful in her mouth while she was protesting.  And she learned that vanilla tastes better than she thought.  The same thing applies to enterprise software - once you get a taste of vanilla, you'll find it's better than you thought.

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