Configured or Customized? – Telling the Difference
Many suppliers might use the term ‘configuration’ when their system really uses a customized approach, so here are some key ways of telling the difference:
- Does the supplier refer to their technical consultants as programmers?
- Do they refer to their ‘configuration tool’ as being like C, C#, Visual Basic or some other programming language?
- If you ask if you can do the configuration yourselves do they say yes – if you have someone who understands computer programming?
- Does the vendor support customer created configurations?
- When you ask for standard functionality to be changed do they talk about ‘programming in’ the modification?
- When standard functionality is changed is the original program copied, renamed and then worked on to prevent future upgrades overwriting your changes?
- Are upgrades to your system time consuming and expensive, requiring rework of your changes?
- Is your LIMS outdated and not fully supporting your workflows because your specific functionality cannot be upgraded?
When new functionality is created for your system does the supplier start with a blank program file and start writing computer code? If the answer to one or more of these is yes, then you have a system that has been customized, no matter how much the supplier talks about configuration.
Understanding the difference between customization and configuration and the implications of either approach is vital when making the decision of what LIMS to implement. Choosing a route that involves customization, even if it is described as configuration will have implications for the supportability and longevity of the system. Choosing a system that supports true configuration, which is so much more than just turning switches and flags on and off, will help ensure the long-term supportability of the system, protect the investment and ensure that the LIMS can evolve as the needs evolve.