Updated: July 29, 2021

When Do You Need to Build Your Own Custom ERP?

When Do You Need to Build Your Own Custom ERP?

There are certain conceptions and commonly held beliefs on the market about whether a business needs its own custom ERP or is better off with an off-the-shelf product. People think that a custom solution is a costly thing that requires long time to build. The perception is that getting that custom solution up and running is a bumpy road and hard to support — the opposite of an off-the-shelf solution, which people tend to think businesses can install within days or weeks and start leveraging right away to drive growth.

We figured out that the best approach to deciding whether your business is better off building or buying and then implementing an ERP is what we call the “Process First” approach. You have to define your business processes before working on an underlying software. After all, implementing an ERP is not about software, but it is really about understanding, defining and optimizing your processes and then use software to implement this design. This process design informs our software design decisions. Once you’ve defined your business processes and identified your software needs, then you can start to look at whether an off-the-shelf solution will meet those needs or whether you’re better off customizing. A custom-built solution will allow you to meet every process need and nuance, because when you custom build software, you start from a clean slate, and you have the ability to optimize every process without compromising on anything. You can’t do that with a commercial-off-the-shelf ERP, because it is already designed. And while the existing design may meet most needs, ready-made solutions come with both conceptual and technological limitations:

1. You really need a separate “process tier” in your ERP, and it has to be, in technical terms, decoupled from underlying software components. This process tier controls not only your ERP, but also all other systems in your organization, and it orchestrates how those systems communicate with one another. Most off-the-shelf ERPs, however, tightly bundle their software with business logic and corresponding process design.

2. The more you customize your off-the-shelf ERP, the more it costs. And at some level of customization, it actually becomes cost prohibitive and technologically cumbersome to customize. Basically, if your organization is using a commercial ERP, you’re incentivized to innovate less, because the more you innovate in your process design, the more risky and cumbersome it becomes. Off-the-shelf ERPs are basically attempts to commoditize your business model by implying that all businesses in the same industry will use the same process design. The choice to build versus buy is a strategic business decision that boils down to one question for each organization: do you want to innovate and design your business processes for yourself or use the same set of processes (with limited customization opportunities) that ERP vendors have designed for every other business?

We would like to share our own story in this post — not so much as developers but from our own experience running a business. We have a few hundred employees, and the sophistication of our business processes is a reflection of the complexity of our industry. As with any business, our organizational complexity is growing quickly.

A couple of years ago, we were a small firm with a handful of workers, and things were much simpler at that time. Everybody was visible, working in close proximity to one another and to management, so there was no need for extensive reporting or data entry. The hierarchy and workflows were linear and simple. I remember this time well and feel slightly sad that it has gone. We kept records mostly in Excel and a few other online systems.

But even in the beginning, we knew we would have to start building a solution to support our growth and retain and improve quality of our services before we could become a bigger organization.

When we started acquiring bigger customers, however, we realized that time was coming sooner than we’d anticipated. The new customers demanded a far more structured approach, including more detailed reporting and constant performance tracking. The complexity of our communication and reporting needs grew dramatically, and as our team grew to accommodate our growing business, our employees required a completely different level of attention and accountability to stay effective. The old ways no longer worked.

In the very beginning, we used a network of third-party systems including Saleforce. But we quickly realized that these systems were solving the problems of millions of customers instead of being laser-focused on providing the best tool for our own employees, without extra complexities involved. Using multiple systems also require integrations — every organization needs a “single point of truth.” Eventually, these integrations became so complex that we needed even more solutions to connect our disparate systems. Now, a clean custom ERP implementation effectively removes many of these layers and allows an organization to invest into their innovative processes instead of spending time, energy, and resources ensuring multiple systems function in sync.

At some point we realized that, being a custom software development company in Austin, it was ridiculous that we hadn’t rectified our software-related challenges. We’d created numerous software systems for our clients, but our internal operations suffered because of the same deficiencies we helped those clients to overcome. It was important for us realize this early enough in our business’s life that it was relatively simple to make the shift. Often, large organizations are so dependent on their already deployed systems that it becomes increasingly complex to replace them with something else, no matter how inefficient they truly are.

As a custom software development company, we knew that fully covering the needs of a growing organization with hundreds of employees wouldn’t be easy, especially given the general complexities of legacy software migration: we would have to migrate our entire team to the new system without interrupting business. On the other hand, we knew that investing in the effectiveness of our internal processes would not only make our team more productive and help us increase our revenue, but it would also help us fulfill our promises to customers to deliver quality software. At some point, we had not only accumulated considerable experience with the systems we used internally, but we had also gained knowledge of the challenges our clients faced and the ways we resolved them. So, we used this knowledge to solve our own software systems problems with a clean-slate solution.

We called our internal system DaVinci as a tribute to the famous Italian Renaissance-era inventor and engineer. It was designed from the ground up with the end goals of replicating all the most useful features of the systems that we used, removing all known redundancies, matching our current business processes exactly, and considering future needs arising from further company growth. The cornerstones of the system were that it be usable for a person without specific engineering background and that the process knowledge could be retained in the system itself rather than dependent on an employee or team to remember it.

It has been a long story — about twelve months thus far — and it is not over yet, but we’ve already seen a significant difference in our operations as a result of creating our own system. We increased our efficiency by replacing the messy workflows with a clear, crisp system that management has full control over, and we also dramatically improved visibility into everything happening in the company at any moment in time.

But what about the cost? While a custom system may require considerable upfront investments, you should look at your business in the long run, as we did. The subscription fees you pay in perpetuity for an off-the-shelf system, which will only increase as your business grows, will quickly exceed the investments required for a custom system, and they will never end. We calculated that by eliminating subscription fees, we could make up for all our investments in DaVinci within four and a half years. Not to mention the costs saved due to more efficient processes. Optimizations in time reports, performance reports, task tracking, financials, and many other areas helped us to reduce our overhead by more than 25 percent, and that savings will continue to grow as we tweak the remaining parts of the equation and add the last modules to the system. The best part is that we now have our own Syberry ERP. We have total control over it, we can change and adjust it however we need to, we pay no licensing fees, and we are not tied to the inefficiencies of the third-party systems we used before.

So, what does all this mean for your business? Long story short, a company that is considering whether or not to build its own ERP should consider one critical question, just like we did before we started building DaVinci:

Are you planning to innovate in how your processes are designed to gain a competitive advantage in your industry?

Do you see the potential for your company to grow in terms of the number of employees, volume and complexity of projects, quantity of workflows, and so on? If so, you’ll find that off-the-shelf solutions that serve your business today will limit your growth in the future. To gain and maintain that competitive advantage as you scale, you’ll need the freedom to innovate that can only come with a fully customized ERP.

If your business is beginning to face the same growth challenges we did, it’s time to consider hiring a dedicated software development team and building your own “Da Vinci.” A custom ERP may be exactly what you need to keep your businesses operating and growing at maximum capacity.

Publication date: November 11, 2019
  • custom ERP
  • IT trends

Learn more about how Syberry can help your business achieve its every goal

What our customers say about us

Syberry’s team was highly responsive and communicative, managing our project smoothly, responding immediately to any issues that arose, and delivering great software at a reasonable price.

Richard Harkness


Elk Grove, CA

How we help ADEPT Driver Company

We developed a web-based driving simulator for teens and another for adults. The products run on Chromebooks, and the team added features that enable them to measure a driver's ability to avoid a crash.

Technologies used

I don't think you could find a better company to manage and build your project. I get so many compliments on my application, and it has a lot of unique and complex development.

Todd Surber


Charleston, South Carolina

How we help PIXRIT Company

A photographer approached us to build a web-based software platform that combines the fastest social media manager with state-of-the-art galleries and provides the ultimate tool for photographers to upload, store, back up, and share their photos and manage their SMM activities.

Technologies used

The high-quality, user-friendly software Syberry created for us has helped grow our clientele, and we were very pleased with their partnership. Syberry was straightforward and consistent in their communication, met every deadline, and ensured a hassle-free development process.

Vince Hughes

Owner, Steel Estimating Solutions

Knoxville, TN

How we help Steel Estimating Solutions Company

Our client was inspired to create a product that helps steel erection companies perform faster, more efficient estimations and bids. We developed original proprietary software from the initial concept.

Technologies used

Syberry delivered world-class service for a cost-efficient price. They communicated well with our team throughout the process, breaking down steps and utilizing a streamlined management system to keep everyone in the loop at all times. The resulting new platform far outperforms its predecessor and has received rave reviews.

Bill Fahy

Owner, FDI Creative Services

Houston, TX

How we help FDI Creative Services Company

Following strict regulations and requirements, we used AWS to develop a custom e-commerce web app that includes shipping integration. Since the site’s launch, the team has continued to make updates.

Technologies used

The application was delivered on time and within budget. Syberry explained their process thoroughly and accommodated to scope changes effortlessly. Their stellar project management, highly responsive communication, and proactive attitude set them apart.

Ricardo Casas

CEO, Fahrenheit Marketing

Austin, TX

How we help Fahrenheit Marketing Company

We developed a large, complex .NET application with various third-party integrations. The team built the software from scratch based on existing wireframes.

Technologies used

The end solution exceeded the client’s expectations. Syberry delivered high-quality products on time and at outstanding value. They provided frequent updates and repeatedly sought feedback at each stage. Customers can expect a highly experienced team that easily translates concepts into solutions.

Rudy Milkovic

Executive Director, Velikom

Austin, TX

How we help Velikom Company

Our team built video streaming software as a web and desktop app for a third-party client. We completed end-to-end development—from scoping to feedback cycles to QA—using PHP and Wowza Streaming Engine.

Technologies used

Syberry has significantly improved our existing platform, and they continue demonstrate their dedication to our business goals and needs by making thoughtful suggestions for enhancements. The Syberry team is communicative and reliable, mitigating all our concerns about outsourcing software development.

Cory Kowal

VP of Products, THG Energy Solutions

Tulsa, OK

How we help THG Energy Solutions Company

Taking over for another vendor, we served as the ongoing software engineering partner for an energy company’s cloud-based platform. The company provided scoping, development, testing, and deployment services.

Technologies used

Syberry has been an invaluable partner in development. Their impressive team was more than able to fulfill our project needs, and their expertise and dedication led to smooth collaboration every step of the way. The result was a successfully launched product that has received lots of positive feedback.

Chris Cox

CTO, MyMelo

Louisville, Kentucky

How we help MyMelo Company

We provided staff augmentation resources for a development project. The team contributed engineers to follow an established roadmap to perform updates and add features.

Technologies used

The database Syberry developed has empowered 40 organizations to help in the fight against COVID-19. A communicative partner, the Syberry team worked quickly and efficiently to launch the website, and they continue to invest their time and efforts into the project.

David Snyder

Product Director, Covid Resource Network

West Orange, New Jersey

How we help Covid Resource Network Company

The company developed a website that serves as a database where organizations can find and donate to other organizations. Currently, the team is working on enhancing the website and fixing bugs.

Technologies used

Syberry was a patient partner, making this engagement feel like a true collaboration. The system they created for us will save our team significant time and frustration.

Joyce Cubio

VP of Operations, Ernie's Mobile Home Transport

Yuba, California

How we help Ernie's Mobile Home Transport Company

The team built an information hub for a mobile home transport and permit service. After discussing the existing system and processes, we delivered a new structure for forms and data.

Technologies used

The Syberry team is skilled at juggling multiple projects. Though they are in high demand, we were confident that they had the resources and the expertise needed to focus on our partnership. Their constant dedication led to a truly successful engagement, and the final product exceeded all our expectations.

John Fox

Executive VP, Fox Business Automation Solutions

Lakeland, Florida

How we help Fox Business Automation Solutions Company

Brought on as a third party, we supplied ongoing development services. The team work on multiple projects and deliver according to predetermined design specifications.

Technologies used

Contact us to learn more about how Syberry can help your business achieve its every goal!

0 / 2500

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Submit loading...

Was this page helpful?