Buyer Beware: Customization vs. Configuration

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I’m not the first product marketing manager to talk about this topic of software, but like any other software purchase, realizing the difference between customization and configuration can help you save a lot of time, money and headaches. 


What’s the difference? 


If something is configurable, the existing software functionality can be set up to optimize a certain workflow or preference.  When configuration is the case, clients can expect results within 48 hours to two weeks depending on the stage of implementation or complexity of the case.


If something is to be customized, it requires greater investments (human, financial and technological) for changes to be included in the software code.  With most software vendors, be prepared to wait 12-18 months before your request is fulfilled. 


As you select a software vendor, be sure you understand the difference between the two and can clearly differentiate where certain functionality falls.


Fortunately, with Widen, you have the ability to do both.  If customization is required, our aggressive three-time-per-year release cycle allows us to deliver at a much faster rate than installed software.  Plus, our technical staff handles the upgrades…not your IT department who is often slammed with other projects critical to business operations. That’s “software as a service” and we’re SaaSy about it.


What does “requires customization” mean to you?


Widen has developed some very “customized” solutions for our clients with the intent to enhance or add value to specific “digital asset management – related” processes.  However, all clients have different processes and each requires unique configuration and in some cases customization to accommodate specific tasks.  Again, that’s the beauty of working with a software as a service provider who has experience across a multitude of industries – through years of development, Widen has dramatically increased what can be configured “out of the box”, vs. what needs to be customized.   When you’re considering a solution, ask the vendor if your request requires customization or configuration and the answer you get should be a good indicator of the depth and maturity of the product.  Oftentimes, you’ll find the greater the history and maturity of the software the greater the configurability.  


Here are a few typical considerations of areas that are configurable for each client within the current functionality of Widen software.  All of these questions are flushed out during the Site Survey stage of implementation with our technical communications team.


A.  Site Skinning – How do want your site to look?  What logos, color schemes and other graphical elements are to be used in order to meet branding expectations?  Do you want your site to match a current website, intranet portal or other system? Will there me multiple skins to accommodate multiple divisions or brands?


B.  Metadata – How will you catalog your assets?  What is your existing metadata structure?  What is your ideal metadata structure?  Will you have different sets of metadata fields for different assets?  Will you need to share and exchange metadata with other systems? 


C.  Media Processing – What conversion formats are to be applied for graphics, audio and video assets?  For these types of media, we generally store one master hi-resolution or hi-definition file and convert / transcode on-demand to other output types.


D. Asset Security – How will you handle rights management?  How are your users to be notified of expired assets?  How will you ensure compliance?   


E.  Access Controls via Roles & Permissions – Who gets to see and interact with which assets and features? Will there be multiple levels of access and control?  Will there be specific workflow cases for admin approval?  


These are just a handful of questions that are asked when determining how your site is configured.  When it comes time for you to select a software vendor, we’re always happy to discuss best practices.    

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