Most companies — even the largest — use “off the shelf” software.

Many organizations pay to have their business management software customized to suit their requirements. The danger in investing heavily in software customization is that when the software publisher releases the next version, your customized version may become an orphan. It's tempting to continue to modify your software.

Often it's wiser to

Evaluate alternative software that more closely matches your operations, or

Modify your operations to suit the software that you're using.

I've seen companies that handle high-value products with serial numbers invest large sums in customization of an otherwise fine integrated accounting / order-processing / inventory control package that -- guess what? -- can't handle serialized inventory! They'd have been wiser to

First, clearly define their operation and inventory control requirements

Then shopped for software that met their needs.

Instead, they tried to customize the wrong software.

Recommended Buying Sequence

While searching for new software, pretend that you own no hardware.

Identify software that best solves your problem.

Buy or lease it.

Then buy or lease the hardware that runs it.


Before buying anything, spend the time that's necessary to survey all software for a given application. Choose the one that's the best fit with little or no modification.