Introduction The rationale for buying software is compelling. The industry is forever comparing itself to more familiar trades, so how about this bit of hype: Could you conceive of a machine parts company building its own lathe or a restaurant building its own grill? (Okay, cutting-edge organizations might, but that is why there will always be custom software.)

While I am at facile analogies, executives think they can buy software like they buy a suit ­ add cuffs, take in the seat a little ­ ta-dah! Buying SAP is not too dissimilar from buying your first jumbo jet: a thousand little switches all set just so. Why are there so many switches? Because you may not want your switches set like they set them at the pharmaceutical company or the cardboard box manufacturer or wherever.

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