Even though they sound similar, customization and configuration are completely different from each other when it comes to maintenance, complexity, and investment. A highly customized solution might sound like a great idea in the same way buying a baby tiger sounds like a great idea, but in a couple years, you might have a bit more than you bargained for. Your fancy solution created exactly to your specifications will likely turn into more problems than it’s worth, just like your cute snuggly feline friend will turn into a giant, not-so-snuggly alpha predator. Don’t even think about delving into a business process solution implementation before knowing the details, or you might soon find yourself in over your head.
Configuration and customization are two different strategies to making an application or solution work for your particular requirements. Configuration fits a solution to your needs using only options that come with an out-of-the-box installation. Nothing new is created, and only existing functions can be used. Customization works in the opposite way – new code is written to meet exact specifications and add new capability that was not previously available.
How It Affects Your Installation
As customization requires more work and more man hours to set up, it’s typically much more expensive than if the solution only requires configuration, and the implementation process takes considerably longer. Even after the implementation, you’ll have to pay more for any additional coding taking place for maintenance, which brings us to our next point:
To quote one of our own solutions experts, “If it takes an army of programmers to create it, it will take one to maintain it.” The upkeep of a heavily customized solution or application is particularly problematic to organizations that have little IT support, but it’s a strain even on ones that do. Every time requirements change or an update is released, more code needs to be written in order to support your previous alterations. In addition to being expensive and time-consuming, customization may inhibit your organization’s ability to keep software up to date, as many managers put it off to avoid having to re-customize their solution.
One thing to avoid is the over-customization of a solution in an attempt to fit it to specifications that may overreach its core capabilities. Functions that are added have not previously been tested elsewhere and may not work, only adding more complications.
Although customization will enable your solution to meet all of your requirements exactly without having to rework any process details, a project with large amounts of code may bring on massive expenses and frequent complications. Finding a highly configurable solution is often a much easier way to tailor your software to your operations.
Given the large amounts of risk that come with heavy customization, configuration seems like an obvious choice, but it just may not be possible to find a successful solution without having to code at all. In these cases, it’s best to try to minimize the customization as much as you can, and brainstorm possible ways to alter processes so they require less coding.
DataBank has assisted many organizations with implementing successful business process solutions that produce high ROIs. For more information, download our CIO Challenge Whitepaper below.