Customization vs Configuration

Lionel Grealou ERP, PLM

Implementing any enterprise-IT solution, PLMERP, or others, requires a degree of personalization in the form of either (or more realistically a combination of) configuration, extension or customization. Typically, choosing one or another application, tool or technology, implies choosing one that is best fit-for-purpose against a set of critical use cases as well as other non-technical criteria (commercial, relationship, etc.).

Managing the amount and complexity of customization is critical to control cost of implementation, support, future maintenance, bespoke training material, etc. and reduce the risk of issues.

PLM and ERP implementations sometimes fail as they go massively over-budget due to under-estimation or lack of control of customization.

Below are typical questions to consider when mitigating that risk include (non-exhaustive list):

  • What is the art-of-the-possible with the OOTB application? 
  • Why is it not covered by the OOTB application?
  • What is the impact to the business (if not implemented)?
  • What is the expected business benefit if implemented (which will include, but not limited to the above)?
  • What are the impacted use cases?
  • Will education / training be required or impacted (if already performed)?
  • Can the process be adjusted using only configuration?
  • Is there coding involved to alter the way the application works or behave?
  • Has the vendor declared a plan to improve or include this in a future release and, if yes, when is it due? 
  • Who will perform the configuration / customization?
  • How much will it cost to implement, support and de-customization (should it be required)?
  • What is the impact of existing and future data quality, integrity and consistency (e.g. data to be migrated)?
  • Is there an integration or data model impact?
  • Who will be testing the configuration / customization?
  • How will these changes affect future vendor upgrades?
  • What kind of support will be needed?
  • Is it part of the organization’s Intellectual Property?

What are your thoughts?

This post was originally published on LinkedIn on 15 October 2015.

About the Author

Lionel Grealou


Lio is founder and independent consultant with Xlifecycle Ltd—helping organizations make the most from their digital enterprise strategies and manage the 'Lifecycle of Things' across PLM, MES, ERP, IOT, SCM platforms.

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