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EHS Software Configuration vs. Customization

If you've spent any time looking at software, you've probably come across the terms configuration and customization.

We hear lots of people use these two words interchangeably, when in fact they're quite different. 

While that might not sound like a big deal, it's a mistake that can add several zeros to the price tag!

That's why it's so important that you understand the difference between configuration and customization and know which one you need, specifically. 

Customization vs. configuration

Customization refers to making changes to the software at the database architecture level. This usually involves some degree of custom coding. Some examples of customization: 

  • adding a new feature that doesn't exist yet
  • adding rules to fields that are unique to each customer

Configuration, on the other hand, refers to the ability to change the look and feel of the software. Usually this is done by using administrative options and modules without changing the underlying code. Some examples of configuration include:

  • changing user roles and permissions
  • changing input form fields and icons 
  • adding, removing, or rearranging dashboard reports

Another way to think of the difference between configuration and customization is to imagine ordering a meal at a restaurant. Configuration is a bit like substituting rice for a baked potato, or adding on a bowl of French onion soup. Customization, on the other hand, is like asking the chef to prepare you a special dinner that's not on the menu. 

When you think of it that way, it's easy to see why customization is significantly more expensive and complicated than configuration! 

Customization

While a customized EHS software system may seem attractive, companies later tend to regret the significant amount of time and resources it requires.

It's not uncommon for custom software implementations to drag on for months or even years. Getting data out of a customized system is time-consuming. And since every client has their own version of the software, it's difficult for the vendor to keep up with all the customizations they've made. Maintenance and upgrades are slow, and bugs are commonplace. 

What's more, because the vendor has to spend more time and resources maintaining all the different versions of their software, those costs get passed on to you. 

  • Requires custom coding and substantial design time up front
  • Expensive to implement and maintain
  • Ongoing maintenance and upgrades are slow and costly 

Configuration

Most people are surprised to learn that out-of-the-box software can be configured to meet 99% of their needs without customization. 

Just by changing a few administrative options, it's possible to create new forms, build workflows, create tailored dashboard reports, and more. There's also the opportunity to add on features and functionality by purchasing additional modules. 

Not only does configuration save your company money, it also makes the software more straightforward to use. A simple system that's utilized by hundreds of employees is far more powerful than a custom system that's only adopted by a handful of users. 

  • Cost effective
  • Can often be done by the customer using administrative options ("self-configured")
  • Maintenance and upgrades are easily deployed

Configuration in Perillon

Perillon is designed to configured to any organization's specific needs, without expensive and time-consuming custom services. The options are endless, but here are five of the most common configurations:  

  • Input forms: Define questions, response logic, change the form name, add a description and even change the color of icons. We'll describe configuring input forms below.
  • Dashboards: In addition to our standard dashboards, you can build your own dashboards with any data views you want.
  • Reports: Our ad hoc viewer (coming soon) allows you to drag and drop fields and filter by date/time in order to create tailored reports.
  • Workflows: You can setup triggers that utilize audit/inspection findings to create and assign tasks or actions. 
  • User roles: Administrators can control what each group or specific user can see. Users will only see data that's relevant to their role and that they're allowed to access. 

Now, let's look at an example of how you can easily configure input forms in Perillon:

Let's say you want to create a new PPE inspection form. To start, open Workspace XPress and go into Admin > AssessmenTrak Settings > Observations Types.

configuration-1

In the Add New Record section, populate the Observation Name and Description. Then choose your Icon and Color Scheme. 

configuration-2

That's it! The new Panel will appear on Workspace Xpress.

configuration-3

The verdict

Configuration and customization are both ways to adapt a software system to your needs. You'll get a lot more out of your software if you resist the temptation to make extensive customizations and use configuration instead. 

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