Modern companies use software for anything and everything. Whether it’s task management, team collaboration, CRM or payroll, implementing the right solutions is essential.
As a result, the software as a service (SaaS) delivery model is booming. A recent report from BetterCloud found that companies used 16 SaaS apps on average in 2017—up 33 percent from 2016, and 73 percent of companies say that 80 percent plus of their apps will be SaaS by 2020.
But of course, the needs of organizations can vary significantly. Even two companies in the exact same industry selling the exact same products may have completely different needs when it comes to using a software. In turn, there’s a growing demand for personalization within a platform where users can make changes with the least amount of effort and technical knowledge.
And there are two main ways that dev teams are addressing this issue—by either creating configurable or customized software.
For this post, we’ll focus on configurable software and discuss some of its key benefits including why it makes sense from a personalization standpoint and how it can make for happier customers in the long run.
Lisa Battle and Laura Chessman make a great point in Design for Context.
“When working on the user experience design for products, we need to ensure that it’s easy for clients or users to configure the product as they wish, and we need to be mindful of the impact that client-specific configuration, customization, or individual personalization will have on the overall user experience.”
You could argue that this has never been more important than it is today with most companies implementing a myriad of different products. And configurable software fulfils this need brilliantly.
It’s an out-of-the-box solution that allows users to painlessly alter certain elements of the software themselves without requiring a lot of technical know-how to do so. Whether it’s something basic like changing the size or style of a font or something more advanced like adjusting user permissions, your customers can set it to match their exact specifications.
In other words, it offers the level of personalization your customers are seeking without being disruptive to the UX. An added plus is that most dev teams will automatically make critical updates based on recent changes in accordance with current industry best practices, which simplifies things even more.
It doesn’t require the help of experienced software developers
This one is a biggie. With configurable software, users can make all of the changes they want to without needing to have an expert software developer on hand. Instead, they’re able to conveniently make any necessary adjustments on their own and with relative ease.
Just put yourself in the shoes of your average business owner for a second. Many will have limited technical/development knowledge. They’re not interested in learning all of the nuts and bolts of coding and just want their software to work. Their main focus is simply running their business and improving their bottom line.
So the last thing they want to do is bring in a third-party every time they need to make a change or update something. Most would rather do it themselves without having to deal with a lot of hassle.
In turn, many people prefer this to customizable software, which typically requires a company to pay a developer to make the updates—a process that can be both costly and time-consuming. So it’s easy to see why configurable software is such a huge selling point, especially for businesses that lack formal IT departments.
There are no companies that operate in a static environment. Technology moves quickly, and change occurs more rapidly than ever before. Those that succeed are often the ones that are most capable of adaptation and evolution, and being flexible is a tremendous competitive advantage.
Fortunately, configurable software is inherently agile and offers organizations the flexibility needed to thrive. Whether they only need to make micro changes every now and then or shape macro changes on a consistent basis, they can seamlessly adjust the software quickly and easily to make maximum use of it.
This ensures that your customers continue to have a great experience in the future regardless of how much their company changes.
Besides the flexibility, there’s also the scalability factor. While business growth is obviously advantageous and a primary goal for most companies, it can also create difficulties if they’re unable to scale accordingly. And growing pains are especially common during the initial stages of business growth.
That’s why software is so important. It plays a major role in businesses effectively expanding and keeping up with consumer demand. It’s what helps them stay organized and make sure all of their ducks in a row.
Dev teams creating configurable software acknowledge that fact and help businesses achieve a framework that’s conducive to scalability while eliminating much of the friction. When users can conveniently make changes and “rearrange the gears,” it ensures that the software scales along with them.
Let’s now highlight some particular cost benefits associated with configurable software as opposed to customized software where a platform is built from scratch.
First of all, the initial costs of customized software can be quite high considering that a company needs to hire a software development team to build it from the ground up. Expenses can add up in a hurry, not to mention it can often take a lengthy amount of time. And any hiccups along the way can potentially be disastrous.
On the other hand, configurable software doesn’t require a business to hire a software developer. It’s an out-of-box solution that allows them to personalize the experience but without all of the messiness. They can still get a fantastic personalized experience but don’t have to deal with the inherent uncertainties of developing a platform from scratch.
Needless to say, this lowers initial costs dramatically, while at the same time reducing implementation time for a win-win.
When it comes to updates, customized systems require a software developer to make them. And this can become quite onerous when updates need to be made on a frequent basis. However, the updates on configurable solutions are usually free and made for the customer. They’re simply included in the subscription price so there are no big surprises later on.
All Barcode Systems puts it, “Both initial setup and lifecycle costs are dramatically reduced using configurable software,” which ultimately results in a lower overall cost of ownership.
And who wouldn’t be pleased with this?
So when an organization requires personalized software, it’s easy to see why most would opt for configurable over customizable software. There’s simply more value there.
There’s a built-in community
There’s one final benefit that’s worth noting— the online community that users often have access to with configurable software. Because the majority of reputable software providers have sizable communities that their users can plug into, this means that users are never from finding tips and advice on using the software.
For example, there may be forums, answers to FAQs, blogs, information hubs, and so on. This way users can quickly find information on whatever aspect of the software they’re interested in and communicate with other users so that they can optimize their experience.
But this is something they won’t find with customized solutions simply because there’s no one else using the same software. So if they run into a problem, again they have to turn to the developer who built their platform.
Fulfilling a need
There’s a huge demand for personalized software these days. Just like consumers crave personalized products and promotions, businesses seek personalized software that perfectly matches their unique needs.
While there are different ways to go about that, configurable software is perhaps the best answer pound-for-pound. It’s ideal for delivering a highly personalized experience and growing along with a customer’s evolving needs without all of the complications that come along with building customized solutions.
This way they’re not reliant on a developer any time they need to change something, and the platform they use is fully capable of evolving alongside them. Besides that, there are some significant cost savings, which is a huge selling point.
So by creating configurable, you should be able to attract new customers with greater ease and retain a larger percentage of your existing ones.
How much emphasis have you placed on user personalization until this point with your software/app? Please share your thoughts:
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