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Is Customization a Boon or Bane?

  One of the biggest challenges for an enterprise today is to constantly upgrade and optimize their IT infrastructure to cope up with the fast growing technology and never ending business demands. As the IT consumers have to transform their heavily customized old school enterprise applications to a standard technology platform, the Enterprise application developers and the Companies are having a stand of between customized application and a configurable solution.

What is the difference between the customization and the configuration; at the very ground level it is nothing but the difference in the approach to reach a solution. Do you want to design and develop a new feature in an enterprise application or you would like to have an inbuilt framework to turn the feature on and off.

Today's enterprise solutions like SAP, BAAN, Oracle, IBM Packages, INFOR etc., see a major challenge in the upgrading to allow more configurations possible. As customized solution delivered to one business client may or may not be a requirement for another client in the similar line of business and more to come. They need to work continuously to meet the market demand.

It is very much certain that companies are following are strict no-no policy for customizations, what makes these business and software consulting agencies to go for configurations and alternative solutions to an extent even compromising business requirements at times? What makes them to be very cautious to go with the customization? To get to know the outcome of the customization one must understand the various degrees of the customization and its impacts.

What makes the Customization a non - desirable action?


 There are several factors which play on the minds of the companies that need and deliver the IT solutions in using customization as an option.  Though, as an example, by adding single line of code could make the GUI of the application to be more user-friendly or remove the unnecessary functions which are not required for that organization; Most of them believe that the customization bring more trouble than a good as it will continue to grow.


      1.       Customized solution/ element of software could always takes more time to move into a comfort/ reliable zone

2.       Skills of the resources have to be upgraded to break and fit the packaged solution of ERP / CRM / EAM etc.

3.       Lot of testing efforts are needed to bring the confidence on the piece of code that has been customized

4.       After any Enterprise application upgrade, a good amount of time has to be spent to ensure that customized piece of code is holding good.


A Positive Dimension on Customization


Even with many positives in going with Configuration approach, it presents its own set of challenges, as more and more configurations are built into the application, a company needs more highly trained skills to ensure the delivery what has been asked for.

Even with these shortcomings carried by the customization from the configuration, at situations vendors & Clients are forced to go with the customization. Could I get any benefits out of this? Answer is yes. At some of the instances customizations are inevitable either to fit the business requirements to standard / Industry best practices or to standardize a new process.

In certain occasions customizations are used to render the brand image of the vendor going to an extent to completely form a new skin over the packaged solution, following nonstandard integration frameworks etc., and bring a new level of user experience. It always provides an edge over the standard package implementation.

Conclusion - What is the winning Key?


Winning combination knows the limit and level to which a customization can be applied over enterprise solutions and the integrated components. The lower the customizations are the higher the reliability of the system and lesser the break down or maintenance cost. But, one can conclude that configurations alone cannot help them to compete with the today's business demands and they have to strike a good balance with the customization need. Companies that follow a very strict discipline and standard guidelines can fly high even with the customizations as part of their systems.

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