One size fits all… or does it? – Part 1
Jarka is a SalesWays veteran, joining as part of the founding team. Her experience is rich in CRM and SFA solutions ranging from original concept, design and final roll out to the customer.
Currently as VP of development she is in a unique position to advise the best route to a successful implementation and conclusion to customer-facing projects.
In this the first in a series of posts, Jarka talks about the ways that specific customer specifications can be implemented into the out of the box application software.
Each organization operates differently and has unique business needs. a customer who doesn’t want “a few small tweaks” added to ASPEC. What differentiates “a small tweak” from a major feature is up for discussion. Yet, there is no doubt that having only a standard version of any business software – no matter how robust — is usually not sufficient. Addressing unique needs can be achieved by or customization. Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably, but they represent different approaches and come with a different price tag.
Let’s take a look at the difference between configuration and customization.
From a high level, Software Configuration Management refers to an overall management of a system/software. From a more pragmatic level, when your organization purchased an out-of-the-box software package, configuration means applying processes and techniques that introduce changes to the standard product. The administrators use tools provided by the application manufacturer. Usually a Setup button or a “gear” icon opens a section full of goodies, like setups for custom fields. It might be easy and intuitive to use these goodies, but sometimes one needs to study complex instructions or to complete an online course before attempting to configure the product. Regardless of the difficulty, configuration is achieved without changing the out-of-the-box code that is available to all customers.
Configuring ASPEC is a breeze. More on that in one of the next posts of this series.
Software customization is a different approach, considered when configuration options do not suffice. Customization goes beyond using tools provided in the product’s supplier. That supplier could be your in-house team, external contractors or the manufacturer of the software. Customization, in any of these cases, results in a tailor-made software, written for a single customer. It literally involves changing parts of the program in the background and requires that a team of business analysts, programmers, testers and other people work together to produce a unique solution.
Customizing – and maintaining – any application is costly. Designing, writing and testing any software is expensive. You may say “Fine, I can live with it. This is a one-time cost of having exactly what I want”. But for how long? Technology changes, trends change, internal initiatives appear, your customers have new needs, your support team wants better tools, marketing team wants more insight, your channel partners want status updates more often etc.
Even if you are using a stand-alone software, customized just for you, and have an in-house IT team that can keep modifying that software, the lifetime cost is high, and often higher that the one-time build cost. That ongoing maintenance headache is one of the reasons why many organizations turned away from in-house applications and are using Cloud solutions that are “on-demand”.
In the next post we’ll cover advantages of using Cloud solutions… and challenges of customizing these solutions.