What is customization of software

Software customizing

Can the software (e.g. certain functions) be customized?
Software customizing: the more individual the closer to software development

By standard software, we mean programs that have been generally developed and are designed for use in many companies or organizations. Individual software, on the other hand, is software specially developed for a specific company.1 Since the development of individual software takes a lot of time and is often too expensive, standard software is often used that can be adapted to the needs of the user.

This adaptation of the software is called customizing2 . Depending on the scope of the work, it is time-consuming, but it is also very useful for the economic use of the software. We consider the possibilities of customizing to be an important criterion for evaluating software, regardless of whether the customizing is carried out by the provider or by a third party. In terms of its complexity or effort, customizing can in extreme cases be comparable to the development of individual software. However, it is very advantageous, if there is the possibility of adaptation at all, instead of working permanently with inexpedient functions, processes or data structure.

Customizing can include the following areas:

  • Setting of master data, country-specific settings (language, currency), integration of the corporate design in lists and forms
  • Mapping of the operational organizational structures
  • Setting the surfaces (colors, menus)
  • Adaptation of the documentation, training regarding the new individual functions
  • Adaptation of functions (setting parameters, calculations, processes), for example with macro languages
  • Mapping of the company's data structures
  • Setting up interfaces and adapting and creating databases
  • Programming of modules
  • Development of interface concepts, adaptation of the data to the corporate structure (organizational structure)

Customizing for smaller companies is usually an extended installation with subsequent parameterization. During parameterization, large function portfolios are adapted to the smaller scope required by the user by setting parameters.

For large companies that purchase SAP software, for example, customizing can be a complex development process that is carried out by specially trained consultants. The different customizing effort is due to the different complexity of the software used.

The complexity of the software also plays a role when it comes to the question of who carries out the customer-specific adaptation measures:

  • Smaller adjustments are carried out by the user company independently or under the guidance of a support employee from the provider or software manufacturer.
  • Larger adjustments are usually made by the software manufacturer or provider at the customer's site. This mainly includes work on system integration.
  • More complex customizing projects are often carried out by external consultants, system houses, programmers or software specialists.

With regard to the acquisition of software, customizing may be necessary at different times:

  • Adjustment of the software before and after the installation (during the installation process)
  • Care and maintenance of the software through data corrections, data adjustments, compliance with data integrity, functional adjustments, setting up new workplaces, during the productive phase of the software
  • Interface programming, data preparation and data transfer in the event of a possible replacement of the software

There should also be a special focus on updates3 and upgrades4 according to the individualization measures taken. It is not a matter of course to adequately consider customizing in the customer version when updating standard software. For example, while country-specific settings are usually not overwritten by updates or upgrades, this is different with adapted code or individually developed and linked functions. After a normal upgrade or update, the individual functions would have to be completely updated. The support should also be adapted consequently.

Our tip:
Inquire with the provider whether the software can be expanded on a customer-specific basis and, if so, for which functions or areas of application. Inquire about what kind of services are offered for later customizing or whether you are working with external partners in this regard? It also makes sense to find out about the additional costs and time involved in advance.

1 See also Lucius & Lucius Verlag, H.R. Hansen and G. Neumann, Wirtschaftsinformatik 1, page 259ff
See also Volker Lanninger, Oliver Wendt, Enzyklop├Ądie der Wirtschaftsinformatik - Online Lexikon, Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Customizing of Standard Software, accessed on September 21, 2017
2 Customizing means the "adaptation of the standard software to individual customer requirements". See Springer Gabler Verlag (publisher), Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon, keyword: Customizing, accessed on 09/21/2017
3 See also 2.8 updates
4 See also 2.9 upgrade option