To Customize or Not to Customize: Understanding the Costs and Trade Offs of Customizations

Overview of This Article
This article is intended to provide insight, set proper expectations and review the pros and cons  of customizing your CIMcloud platform.  

We hope to equip CIMcloud customers with the information necessary to make an informed decision on when to pursue customizing their standard platform to address a specific use case and when to simply operate within the default capabilities of the product.

* Please Note:
All customization work is billed hourly at the standard rate of $200/hr, and must be planned and estimated through the CIM Pro Services group.  

We will cover the following topics:

  1. Configuration vs Customizations.  What’s the difference?
  2. Pros and Cons of Customizations
  3. How to Choose Between Customization or Configuration

Configuration vs Customizations.  What’s the difference?
To discuss the pros and cons of customizations, we must first understand exactly how configuration and customizations are defined.

Configuration:
Configuration is using the default features and settings that are native to the platform to achieve the desired functionality. As with any out-of-the-box platform, there is a standard configuration to accommodate baseline functionality.  Updating these to meet your specific needs typically occurs during the implementation process.  

Customizations:
Customization is defined as a feature or adaptation to the overall platform that has been custom coded by a developer to accommodate a specific requirement or create a unique user experience that cannot be achieved through standard product configuration.

To review an overview of the customization process, click here.

Although they appear similar in nature, there is a fundamental difference between the two.  When upgrading to newer versions of the platform, customizations will almost always have to be adjusted by a developer to ensure they remain functional with later releases, while configurations will not because, as mentioned above, they are native to the platform.

 

Pros and Cons of Customizations
Now that we have a clear understanding of what is defined as a customization, let’s discuss the Pros and Cons of customizing your platform.

The Pros of Customization
One of the benefits of the CIMcloud platform is that it is highly flexible – allowing our developers to create custom tailored solutions.  

Having an overall solution that is specifically customized for your internal work flow can allow you to have full creative control of your product design, assuring alignment with internal process and contributing to higher adoption by your team and increased productivity.

A customized solution can also provide a unique, competitive advantage in the marketplace.

The Cons of Customization
While there are plenty of upsides to being able to custom tailor your platform, there are also disadvantages to be aware of.

The addition of customizations will certainly increase your implementation cost, and can introduce extended timelines for delivery.  It requires a seasoned developer that also has extensive product knowledge in order to properly implement.   

As discussed previously, customizations are not guaranteed to be compatible with future product releases.  This will always add additional costs for a developer to update the custom code to be compatible following a version update.   The more complex the customization, the more costly it can be to implement and maintain

Long-term support of customizations can also be tricky.  Our support team is set up to react to issues related specifically to the application itself vs a custom solution. 

 

How to Choose Between Customization or Configuration
For context – many platforms are built on standard features that, in some cases, were once considered custom.   Oftentimes these customizations make it into future releases due to high demand or market indicators.

So, how do you know when to customize?  Sometimes customization requests may already be on the product road map, scheduled for a future release.  Other times, the request may be so unique to your business, that it will most likely never make it into core product.

For more information on product road map, click here.

When deciding whether to choose between configuration or customization, it’s best to budget time with a consultant or solution architect for a discovery engagement.  They will work with you to better understand your business requirements, and determine the long term risk and rewards of choosing configuration or customization.

To schedule a discovery session, please contact our Professional Services team, and we will be happy to assist.

Updated on July 18, 2021

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