The Benefits of Software Configuration vs Software Customization

Software Configuration vs Customization

Configuration vs Customization

Although software configuration and software customization sound similar and do overlap in some ways, there are some crucial differences between the two. If these are not taken properly into account, such as when choosing a new vendor solution, it can have financial ramifications.  

This article will cover:

  1. What is software customization
  2. What is software configuration, how does it differ from customization?
  3. Benefits of software configuration

What is software customization?

The bigger a business is, the more complexities there are to manage. If an organization has multiple operations across the world with different requirements at a global and local level, and teams operating in silos with different ERPs and legacy system integrations, there will be plenty of challenges to overcome.

Most software suppliers will claim they can easily fix an organization’s existing problems with their systems, but once the contract is signed, they often take advantage of some rather common tactics to evade doing the promised, such as expanding the timeline. Although ‘off the shelf’ or ‘out of the box’ solutions are frequently assured, there simply isn’t one single software vendor that can meet all of a multinational corporation’s requirements.

In many cases, ‘out of the box’ systems will be customized in order to try and adapt it to a situation it wasn’t originally designed to address. As such, it renders them a ‘square peg in a round hole.’ Customization sounds like a reasonable approach, as it gives the impression that you are getting a bespoke system designed to fit your exact needs.

However, in order to customize software, there need to be changes to the software itself, to alter it and adapt its off-the-shelf functionality. Often, this means that invasive changes need to be made to the core application, and to make these changes, developers will need to write new code. Not only does this mean there is extra cost involved – it also means there is added risk as well.

What is software configuration, how does it differ from customisation?

One of the easiest ways to differentiate between customization and configuration is to think of them like this: Software customization is when you are required to work ‘outside’ of the application in order to make changes. Software configuration, on the other hand, is where you can make changes to the software and adapt it to meet your exact requirements, but you are working ‘inside’ the application. In other words, the tools you require already exist within the application. You don’t need to throw custom code into the mix, or the risks that it brings such as bugs, the need for expensive upgrades, or issues that impact the core system.

The truth is, we’re already familiar with the notion of configuration as part of our daily lives in the B2C world. The phones we use – the phone you might be using to read this – are built on the principle of configurability.

Once you have the operating system (e.g. the platform, such as a low-code platform), all you need to do is download the apps you need. They can be easily installed and easily deleted. All you are doing is configuring the system to meet your requirements.

Benefits of software configuration

Benefits and advantages of using configurable systems include:

  • Software configuration gives the power to the business user and frees them from IT: As the system provides a seamless and friendly user-experience, the business user will be happy to use it, as it also makes them less reliant on IT.
  • Software configuration provides the ability to make quick and easy changes as needed: Platforms that require no hard coding and which work on a modular basis can, in principle, be easily adapted and updated to fit your organization’s needs as they change.
  • Software configuration doesn’t require expensive changes: If you’re tied into using a system that requires constant customization, either from IT or, even worse, the vendor itself, then the costs of such changes are going to stack up quickly. With configurable software however, the costs of minor changes or tweaks will be much lower.
  • Software configuration allows for updates to be made more quickly: This is due to little to no hard coding.

There will always be the possibility of additional complexities that make genuine, 100% user-friendly configuration difficult to achieve.

However, organizations that are open to moving towards low-code, best-of-breed solutions in digital procurement technology are more likely to reach their goals and achieve better ROI. To find out more about the benefits of Best-of-Breed solutions, click here.

Article Updated January 2022

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