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Controlling Customizations in Packaged Products

A Model to Quantify the Degree of Customization (DoC)

Customizing packaged software products, like ERP and CRM systems, has an adverse effect on their upgradability and maintainability. Typically a company acquiring a packaged product wants to balance out the investment (ROI, TCO) with just enough adjustments that are required to make the product fit the industry or business specific aspects (usability) so the company can retain its competitive advantage.

Making too many adjustments voids the purpose of investing in a packaged product. A better solution would be a bespoke software in that case. Not enough adaptation and sticking to the out of the box functionality reduces the ability of a company to serve its clients and by that the usability of the packaged product. So there is a sweet spot for every company with the right amount of adjustments.

In order to determine this sweet spot a company must be able to determine the degree of adaptation that was applied. Quantification is difficult but not impossible as we will show in this document. Once quantified it allows to monitor the current state and trend in the adjustments that are made to the original packaged product.

The original paper I wrote on this model you can download here:

The Degree of Customization (DoC) model is a way to quantify the amount of adaptations to a software product. It expresses the degree as a percentage where 0% indicates the out of the box product and where 100% indicates a fully bespoke product.

Doc Spectrum

The DoC is based on three axes:

  • The count of the adaptations
  • The impact of the adaptations
  • The size of the adaptations
DoC Axes

The DoC determines the degree for the building blocks comprising the software. What these building blocks are and the level of granularity is up to the company to determine. However, the granular finer and more exhaustive a list of building block is defined the more detailed and accurate the DoC can be measured.

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