The short answer is “less risk and less expensive.” The slightly longer answer is “a lot less risk and quite a bit less expensive.” Especially considering the longevity of ERP software packages once they are installed. I usually compare the implementation process to assembling furniture from the popular furniture store IKEA®. It sounds straight forward but…
I remember the first time I brought a piece of furniture home from IKEA, and then discovered that a basic book shelf contains more pieces than you would have thought possible. I opened the boxes and started pulling out a few pieces only to realize the available floor space might not be sufficient to accommodate the assembly process. I stopped pulling the big pieces out and instead reached for the little bags with all the screws and what looked like a little handy lifesaving tool to make it all come together. The IKEA wrench! Little did I know that by the end of this process my fingers would be hurting profusely, and possibly bleeding, and I’d be wishing the whole thing had gotten lost in shipping. I eventually found the single sheet of paper with instructions, and finally, after moving the pieces around the room 2 or 3 times, asking for a helping hand to hold the contraption during the assembly process, re-doing a few steps, and probably raising my voice once or twice, I finally declared victory and the book shelf was done! The whole process took way longer and was much more stressful than it should’ve been, just due to the fact that I was unfamiliar with it.
If you’ve ever bought IKEA furniture I am sure you recognize this pattern. You’ll also probably know that the second and third time around the experience is much different. First off you brought your electric screwdriver to the battle, because now you know that the little IKEA wrench is NOT your friend. He goes right in the trash. Second, you have cleared a good floor area for your assembly so that you can lay out all pieces flat and/or leaning against the walls in an orderly pattern. You have planned ahead and have a helping hand in the vicinity should the need for an extra set of hands arise. The process is smooth and almost enjoyable. You don’t start sweating and you don’t have to raise your voice. You planned for half an hour, and that is about what it took to put it together.
So what does this have to do with ERP software? Well, I think that implementing an ERP product in principle can be compared to the furniture assembly process, only at a much larger scale of course. If the ERP package in question is not written specifically for your line of business and the software partner is not intimately familiar with your industry, it very quickly turns into a much more complex project than is necessary. You have a high risk of project overrun, and you may end up not getting all the benefits you had planned for. If, on top of this, you have substantial customization to the standard software, you may end up paying a premium for support and upgrades on an ongoing basis. It is really a high-risk project with unpredictable expenses in both the short and the long term.
If, on the other hand, you work with an ERP software package that has been developed specifically for your industry (a vertical solution), and you work with a partner that has implemented this package maybe a hundred times at businesses such as your own, you are much more likely to have a successful implementation. It is comparable to putting the same bookshelf together over and over again. You know exactly where the pieces fit together. You lower the risk dramatically. You have predictable costs and there is a high probability that your project will come in on time and on budget. Your ongoing cost of maintaining the system will also be much lower since there will be little to no custom components in your installation.