How much is too much – configuration vs. customisation?

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Revenue Management Solutions are in vogue. Increasingly CPG suppliers are looking to improve their promotional and pricing management by engaging sophisticated software tools; increasing control, visibility, efficiency, and capability of their business.

What are configuration and customisation?

Many technology providers now offer “out of the box” solutions which means they only require a small amount of configuration before you can start using the tool. Configuration is a simple or expected change to the system, for example: making sure that data maps properly, naming convention is consistent with your business, or even something as simple as updating the colour palette.

However; some CPG suppliers often request technology providers to make changes to the tool to replicate existing business processes which can involve changes to the solution code, or even building an entirely new function or module.

Why you should avoid too much customisation?

Customisations are additional work items that need to be developed by your provider. They can vastly increase project cost and timeline as you will likely be asking for something that is bespoke for your business. We often see companies compile request lists from their wider business, requirements become exhaustive as everyone wants the solution to replace or simplify their day to day role in some way. What was originally a revenue management solution might suddenly be asked to be a time keeping device! The key is to identify which requests are business critical – genuinely needed by your users to perform their role – and which are unnecessary.

Important not just to begin, but also to continue with the objective in mind. Why are you engaging a supplier on an RM solution? Whether to provide better forecasting of promo spend, or greater visibility of promotional ROI, it’s important not to be side-tracked. That should remain your goal, and will help you identify what is just a “nice to have”.

What are the implications of customisation?

Customisations are likely a lot more expensive than any configuration of an RM solution. Not only is there a need to write additional code to fulfil your request, there is also a need to maintain the code-base if it breaks, or if future changes are required. These will not be part of your supplier’s general application support model, and will be a longer term financial consideration.

Additionally, one of the greatest value adds of any system is the speed of delivery, if a solution will save you $X per month, any additional months it takes to implement, say – building that new module you requested, prevent you from accessing those savings.

How to get the most from your RM solution?

One of the most common things we hear from suppliers is that “with hindsight, we would reduce the number of customisation requests”. RM solution providers are experts in this space – their solution will deliver value. Getting the solution that best fits your needs will help you minimise your customisations.

Embrace the change

Your next consideration should be change management. By engaging a systems provider, you are essentially looking to improve your way of working in the revenue management space. You should be discussing with your provider how they can help you establish a best practice; review what is and is not working within your business. Often, we find that what was originally a “business critical customisation need” could be addressed by changing process introducing efficiency, and reducing need for a complex solution.

Remember that your provider has worked with lots of similar companies facing similar issues. They will be cherry picking the best ideas from everyone to develop their solution and best practices. They can help prevent you from expensively replicating outdated processes, and introduce a lot of efficiency and value add activities into your revenue management function.

In summation, you should be working collaboratively with your supplier to identify a clear list of requirements; detailing and building truly necessary customisations only; and look to deliver value quickly through system delivery and process change.

Want to discuss the best way to do this? Get in touch!

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