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SOFTWARE AIDE - The 5 Worst Mistakes

4. Mistake 4.

Failure to understand the hidden costs of customization.

"We can do that," is the predictable refrain heard by companies when they ask a vendor if their product can do...well, just about anything. While it's usually a truthful answer, it isn't always complete.

Take multiple currency translation as just one example. Some products have been developed and designed to handle multiple currencies and produce a P&L based on any currency just by a simple mouse click. It's programmed into to the basic "plain vanilla" product. Other products may not come complete with this same ability, but can be customized to provide the same functionality.

So what's the difference? Why should anyone care, if at the end of the day each product can provide the same multi-currency functionality?

In the case of the product where the functionality is built in and requires no customization, there is no additional up-front consulting cost to provide it. In addition, if there is any type of problem or failure with this function, assistance is provided for free via the help desk. If they can't solve the problem, they'll send out a consultant to fix it - and charge nothing if it turns out to be a product failure. And since this is part of the basic product, if anyone else experienced a similar problem before you did, a fix would be in existence. In fact the vendor might have included the fix in an update, so you could actually avoid even encountering the problem to begin with.

If, however, you went with a vendor that did not have multiple currency translation embedded in the basic product, you would need to pay one of their consultants to build that capability for you. In addition, since it's not part of the basic offering, it's not going to be supported by the help desk. If you ever need additional modifications (and believe me, you will) you'll pay for those as well.

In addition, customizations are rarely so fully and completely integrated with the standard product to the point where they operate as seamlessly as they do when developed from the start as part of the offering. That being the case, customized solutions have a tendency to breed work-arounds and be somewhat awkward to work with. This being the case, user acceptance can be diminished, and confidence in the product erode.

What can be done?

In The Buttonwood Seven Step Process™ for finding and selecting a planning software vendor, Step 5: Scrutinize the Short List talks about the need for site visits and scripted demonstrations. These are two tools to uncover what important customization, if any, will be required. In addition, Step 6: Bargain in Good Faith will require each vendor to come clean about what functionality needs to be customized, since this will appear in the implementation estimate.

If you have any questions about the process, or would like to find out how we can support your efforts to find the right vendor for your circumstances, please contact us.

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Mistake 2 >
Mistake 3 >
Mistake 4
Mistake 5 >