At B Online Learning we are continually demonstrating LearnFlex LMS to prospective clients including displaying various pieces of functionality. After informing them that the areas could be configured in a variety of ways to better suit their business needs, the inevitable question is asked: but what is the cost for those changes? You see for their current or previous LMS those kinds of changes would require development from the software vendor. Configuration shouldn’t be considered a billable service, outside of possibly some extreme circumstances, so in response to those questions I’ll try to hopefully clarify some of the differences between configuration and customisation.
If you’ve had experience working with, researching or purchasing LMS software, or enterprise software in general really, you may have had a demo, seen a video or maybe read about some fancy bit of functionality that shows off what the software is capable of and often you’ll be told that all the functionality you’ve seen is in fact completely configurable and with only a bit of configuration you can fully incorporate the software into you’re your existing business process. So what’s the first thing to do? Make sure that your definition of what constitutes “configuration” and theirs is exactly the same. It may seem like semantics debating the meaning of configuration but it can actually have a huge impact on your bottom line. When some software vendors say that something is “configurable” what they actually mean is that the software is “customisable”. The two are terms share quite a few similarities, but the main differences come down to two simple facts: who’s doing the work and how much it’ll cost to implement.
Configuration ultimately boils down to being able to do the work yourself through settings for functionality that you can enable or disable through the software or possibly work that the software vendor needs to enable but doesn’t require any billable work. It’s not uncommon to have tasks or database job that will need to run server side that you won’t have access to so it’s best to clarify during the initial discovery what the process would be if those need to be changed at any time.
Customisation normally requires custom coding from the software vender, can be quite a costly to implement and unless you’re willing to commit to long term usage of the software you need to be careful to determine if the software will be cost effective for your organisation. It can be unrealistic to think that most enterprise level software will meet 100% of your requirements right out of the box but any good software should cover around 85% of your requirements solely through configuration. This number can vary quite a lot depending on the software and the vendor so be sure to look into what configuration you’ll be able to do yourself before you purchase any software packages.
LearnFlex has the advantage of being a mostly configurable system and the odd bit that isn’t pure configuration is branding but even some of this can be done through configuration if you’re familiar with HTML. Unfortunately, not all software is created equal and not all software vendors have the same meaning to configuration or customisation so be sure during your requirement gathering for new software you flesh out what you can do yourself and what you need the vendor to accomplish in order to determine the cost benefit ratio if you were to implement the software.
Please contact us on 0295716888 or click here to book a request for a demonstration of LearnFlex LMS.
About Brad Morin
Bradley is a LearnFlex Business Analyst with B Online Learning and has been working with the Learning Management System for over 6 years in a variety of different capacities. He recently moved from Canada to join our Sydney team. During his previous role as a Database Administrator for LearnFlex he developed an interest in database architecture, data mining and the analysis and optimization of business processes with regards to the integration of new technologies.