Configuration Versus Customization

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22392319 - 4 3d technician with tools adjusting gear mechanismWhen it comes to PLM there is a serious distinction, and oft times confusion, between the words “configuration” and “customization.”

For example, Arena’s all-in-one cloud product lifecycle and quality management solution is a product that can be configured — not customized— as far as modifying the workspace’s terms and names and workflows, etc.

The reason Arena is hesitant about using the word “customization” is on-premise PLM providers allow customers access to the native code base and can truly customize the tool to be exactly what they want. They can refine the workflow to be unique and vary outside of defined best practice, because they have the ability to “customize” it. Arena, on the other hand, is very configurable, and can be very quickly reskinned to work for your business.

Why is configuration more business critical than customization?

Here’s a four word answer that might surprise you: total cost of ownership.

Customers that crave customization forget to consider the total cost of ownership (TCO) of their on-premise investment, including: hardware, network, backup and development systems. The TCO includes the cost of human capital, such as project management, database, server, firewall, security, backup and help desk resources — not to mention the overtime pay for weekend work to install emergency hot fixes, hardware repairs, or security issues.

According to Graphite Systems Director of Engineering Kevin Rowett, Arena’s all in one cloud-based SaaS solution removed 90% of product errors, saved an estimated $500,000 annually by removing costly on-premise IT management, and reduced time to market 25%. That’s not an anecdote — those are cold hard facts.

On-premise solutions on the other hand, sell the concept that you can customize. And that’s great for certain companies. But what Arena found from talking to 20 former on-premise solution customers who replaced their on-premise PLM solutions with our cloud solution, was that only two had even attempted to customize and the ones that did were very unhappy because once they had customized the system, they were now locked into that version. And while improvements were made to the software, because of their customization efforts they were not able to benefit from other software upgrades. If they wanted the new upgrade, they would have to rip out the old software and rebuild it from scratch with the new software. However, that was a very expensive proposition.

On-premise concerns continue to bedevil customers who fear upgrades, updates and security breaches. Many companies that believe they want the ability to customize soon realize the very real additional time, energy and expense to make that happen for very little payoff.

The cloud makes a big difference. You’re never going to be rev locked, in fact you’re always going to benefit from the new features as they come. With each release, the customer gains the newest features and functionality.

Learn more about the value of configuration and incremental changes in next week’s blog post.

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About the Author

John Papageorge
John Papageorge has worked at some of the biggest names in the high tech industry, launching products and programs for companies, such as Oracle, HP, Cisco, and Microsoft. John's passion ... Read More 

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