Introduction

Enterprise applications are all the rage these days. Are they as good as people claim? And why not your firm?

The short answer is most enterprise software is overrated for the following basic reasons:

  • Enterprise software is expensive and painful to implement.
  • Enterprise software results in you hiring more staff, not less.
  • Enterprise software forces you to operate with the identical overhead and limitations as your competitors.

Over the last 20 years Open Sky has integrated with virtually all of the big-name packages out there - from sales management systems, to customer relationship management, to business process management, resource management, and HR. All of them claim to save oodles of time and money - yet very few deliver. In this article we'll explore Open Sky's top reasons why most enterprise software is lousy, and why you should consider a custom build for your business needs.

Enterprise software dilutes your competitive edge

This is by far the most important, yet most overlooked drawback of jumping on the enterprise bandwagon. Do you really want to operate with the same systems, costs structures, and overhead as your nearest competitors? Suppose your company specializes in logistics - implementing the same logistics software as your nearest competitor is not going to maintain your firm's advantage. In Open Sky's experience, our clients built their firms by doing things differently than the general marketplace. The last thing they want to do is lose their competitive edge by forcing their operation into a mold that exactly matches their competitors. Simply put, enterprise software dilutes your competitive edge by forcing all firms that use it to operate the same.

Enterprise software implementation teams are lousy too

The enterprise vendors tout their implementation teams and value added resellers. Yet universally these teams are poorly trained, under-staffed, and have sub-par personnel. Why? Because the implementor's job is lousy too. It's painstaking and frustrating work. The best systems analysts and developers don't pursue these jobs, so the Enterprise vendors simply cannot attract or maintain top talent. The results are shoddy, ad-hoc implementations. At Open Sky we have witnessed the exact same enterprise system implemented in several different companies, yet all are vastly different. And all are done poorly and frozen in a dismal state of implementation as a result of these lousy implementation teams.

Enterprise software companies spend on marketing, not software

In enterprise circles it's common to find these firms spending two to ten times more on marketing & sales than they do on software engineering. Yet on average, most other firms spend around 10% of their total company budget on sales and marketing. So the enterprise vendors spend the bulk of their revenues convincing the next customer, not in improving their products or services. It's sell, sell, sell.

Enterprise software companies target executives, not end-users

At Open Sky we have worked with the end-users and know their pain points. And in our experience enterprise software is not targeted to satisfy the needs of end-users, it's marketed and sold to the executives primarily through the use of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) and FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

Enterprise software reporting is terrible

This is one of two boastful claims about enterprise software that never delivers (the second being the next point). Enterprise vendors laud their reporting capabilities during the sales process, but post-implementation you're stuck with reports you can't use. Time and again we have watched firms coming to Open Sky to do reporting that their enterprise package was supposed to perform in the first place. The fact is reporting is hard, very hard sometimes - and using vanilla-ware to get what you need is not going to cut it.

Enterprise software cannot be customized

The second big (and equally false) boastful claim that the enterprise vendors push on prospective clients is their ability to customize the software. "We can customize it to your business" they say. Not true, what they will do is beat your firm's personnel into submission and change your operation to match the software. Eventually people get angry and frustrated about the pace of implementation, employees and implementors give up, and staff are hired to fill in the gaps. We've seen it far to many times to count. Enterprise software's ability to customize is non-existent. Get ready to fit your company to their mold.

Enterprise software leads to hiring more staff, not less

Because the software is so wide yet so shallow, and because the implementations are poor - firms inevitably find themselves in the position of actually increasing staff to run the software. They add heads to their sales department, IT department, accounting department, and HR department just to get it working. It's one of the dirty little secrets of the business model. The enterprise vendors are counting on you to hire more because they know bureaucracy makes for momentum. Once you start hiring, they know they have you hooked.

But what about {insert scary buzzword}?

Indeed. What about Security? What about Support? What about up-time? What about Maintenance? These are scare tactics used by the enterprise sales crew to convince clients to bend to their will. The facts show otherwise. By implementing widely used packages you're more likely to be hacked, to pay more for support, and to experience longer downtime and outages. The best firms don't operate in fear - so why should you buy into fear-mongering. It's a false narrative.

Enterprise software is just as expensive as custom alternatives

At Open Sky we've seen enterprise software implementations that cost in the six to seven figure range, and take over a year or more to complete. That's the same as pursuing a custom build for your firm. And with a custom build you get exactly that, a custom solution tailored to your business needs. Are there risks? Of course, if you hire the wrong team you risk losing the entire investment. Hire the right firm, and your payoff will be overhead that undercuts your competitors, superior custom service, and operational efficiency that makes you more profit for less hassle with fewer personnel.