Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.
~ Henry Ford
Ford's now-famous words seem a little quaint today. We live in the Golden Age of the Consumer, where virtually everything can be customized or personalized in some way. If you can customize mass-produced consumer goods, it seems reasonable to expect that you should be able to customize something as strategic and mission-critical as an enterprise resource planning system, too. But just because you can, does this mean that you should?
Personalizations are Persistent
The E-Business Suite has
acquired increasingly-powerful personalization features over the
years. These features allow you to personalize existing EBS screens
with your own branding, corporate logos, colour schemes, field names,
explanatory messages, and more. My fellow blog authors have previously
written about personalization options here
(for Forms personalization) and here
(for OA Framework personalization).
types of personalizations are metadata-driven, which means that they
are preserved and work even when the underlying screens are updated by
EBS product teams via new patches. This is the primary benefit of
using the standard Apps personalization features: your changes are
persistent and will continue to work even if the underlying screens are
patched at a later date.
Going Beyond Personalizations
might have a unique service offering, product, or business process.
You might need to capture or manage information about your business,
products, or customers in a way that differs markedly from the way the
E-Business Suite's designers originally intended.
system administrator's perspective, you might need to deploy the
E-Business Suite in an architecture, topology, or system configuration
that aren't supported via AutoConfig yet.
Suite's personalization features, while useful, may not be sufficient
to meet these types of specialized requirements. At this point of your
analysis, it will be useful to consider the advantages, disadvantages,
and implications of customizing your the E-Business Suite in an
There are many ways of customizing or extending your EBS environment. These include:
- New business rules or data transformations
- New or custom screens
- Integrations with external systems
- Use of third-party utilities or extensions
- Creation of new reports
- Creation of new workflows
- Integrations with standalone APEX applications
of these customizations need to be considered in terms of their
invasiveness. The more invasive the change, the greater the long-term
Advantages of Customizations
Disadvantages of Customizations
- Functionality meets your requirements more closely
Understanding the Implications of Customizations
- More costly than deploying a "plain vanilla" solution
- Requires specialized development skills
- May require updates, testing, and maintenance whenever:
- New EBS patches are released
- New architectures are deployed
- New technology certifications are released
- Increases support complexity and overhead
- Can potentially complicate upgrades to new EBS releases
As regular readers of this blog know, we frequently release new
technology stack patches, certifications, architectures, and systems
management features. Apps product families (e.g. Financials, Supply
Chain, Human Resources, etc.) aren't standing still, either. They're
constantly updating their products with new features and enhancements,
assume that you have the resources to address the first two potential
issues of increased cost and skills. What remains are the implications
of keeping up with your friendly developers at Oracle:
spoken with a number of customers who tell me that their
customizations have prevented them from applying the latest ATG Rollup
or upgrading to the latest database release. They might have had staff
to perform the original customizations years ago, but they no longer
have the capacity to regression test their environments with new
patches or technology stack components. In some cases, formal
development records detailing the customizations have been lost, making
it extremely difficult to perform any impact analyses or tests. These
customers can't go forward, and
they can't undo their customizations, either. These customers are
If you've customized your E-Business Suite environment
in some way, you
need to ensure that every new certification, patch, or newly-supported
architectures work in your
customized environment. Depending upon what you're considering
your environment, you may need to perform functional tests, performance
benchmarks, scalability testing, and even security reviews. If you're
thinking of customizations, it is extremely important not to
underestimate the costs of maintaining and testing them.
I were an IT manager considering customizing the E-Business Suite, the
primary factor affecting my decision would be the support
implications. Oracle certifies and supports generic E-Business Suite
environments. If you invasively customize your system in some way, you
should understand and plan for the fact that Oracle can only provide
patches for issues that can be reproduced in uncustomized, "plain
vanilla" E-Business Suite environments.
Customers who can
succinctly describe their customizations when logging Service Requests
with Oracle Support will have a distinct advantage over those customers
who wait for Oracle Support to stumble over a customization.
Premier Support for E-Business Suite Release 11i ends in November, 2010.
At OpenWorld this year, it was abundantly clear that many of you are
planning your upgrades to E-Business Suite Release 12 now.
you've customized your Apps 11i environment in some way, your Apps 12
upgrade plan needs to consider whether those customizations are still
needed. Given the many new features in EBS 12, it's entirely possible
that your customizations may now be redundant or obsolete. One major
Apps 11i customer with several thousand customizations observed that at
least half of those were already built directly into R12, obviating the
need for forward-porting.
Tipping the Scales
had the pleasure of working with countless EBS customers over the
years. My impressions are that systems administrators with
uncustomized Apps environments are generally more-receptive to keeping
up with the latest patches, are more willing to consider upgrades and
trying new technologies. This makes a lot of intuitive sense.
As a battle-scarred Oracle developer, I would venture
that very few customers can justify the extremely-high costs and
long-term systems management implications that come along with invasive
That said, every customer has their own business case for customizations. Your mileage will
vary. Everyone going through this analysis will have their own factor
weightings, costs, and benefits of customizing their EBS environments.
be interested in hearing your war stories about customizations, both
good and bad. Feel free to share them in a comment or by dropping me a