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Software Customization

September 22, 2010
by Pete Rivera
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Do you really know the Do’s and Don'ts?

The scenario is played out every day. You engage a vendor to install a module, new feature or a completely new implementation. Then you sit down and tell them how unique your organizational processes are and how you need to customize how the software functions.

The secret is that most organizations have the same processes. Vendors are able to develop solutions that meet the 80/20 rule. In other words, your processes should be the same as 80 percent of the rest of the industry. So what do you do to find out how your organization is doing? You need to develop a solid GAP analysis. What are you doing that is different than what other organizations are doing? Does it really make sense to keep doing it this way? Is this a perfect time to tweak your processes?

Keep in mind that vendors will be happy to provide you with custom code and screens…for a nominal fee. Don't unless your ready to add extra expenses to your project and address the issues you will encounter during upgrades. Some features that were developed as part of the software workflow may be affected. Additionally, you might not get the ROI you hopped for because you still kept bad processes in place. The more you chip away from the standard or "vanilla" install, the more likely you will encounter issues down the road.

There are two sides of this argument, from a client perspective and from the vendor. What has been your experience during customization?



Good point, but as someome who has been, and worked for many vendors...there is no such thing as a 'nominal' fee. Most vendors tack on a 25% maintenance fee since nothing messes them up more during upgrades than customizations.

The other thing I would add comes from the other direction. That is, if your vendor is too willing to do customizations, doesn't push back, and charges a kings ransom...head for the hills! This guy is in big trouble and is in dire need of revenue.

You got that right Frank! I think clients often need to step back a remember what lead them to do the RFP and the vendor in the first place. Then be prepared to change to accommodate the software features that you wanted.