Configurable or Custom

by | Oct 16, 2019 | ICT4D |

Just down the road from where I grew up, a small farm has been sold to a developer to turn into houses.  You can choose from 4 house designs with different features at a set price.  On the next street over there is a plot for sale, a blank canvas for a bespoke, custom home, you only know the price of the land without the house.  Which will you choose?

If you choose to buy your house from a developer, you choose the lot, which of the 4 designs you like best, then can choose the standard package with all choices of flooring, kitchen, bathroom fittings, wall colours chosen for you or you can make some alterations.  However, you can’t do everything you want.  Changing the paint colour is unlikely to cost you extra as long as you stick with the brand of paint they use. But if you want to change from carpet to wood flooring, that’s considered an upgrade.  And if you want to change the location of wall, that’s a huge upgrade and may not even be permitted.   

Contrast that to the custom build experience.  Here the starting point is the plot you have and your dreams.  A good custom builder will ask you a lot of questions about how you live, how you want to live, your dreams, your family size, budget, must haves, nice to haves, and even must NOT haves.  Instead of looking at 4 houses designs, you may look at 50. And the discussion at one point will likely be “I like this part of this design and this aspect of this one”.  In the end, you’ll need to choose fixtures and fittings, floor coverings and colours, and yes there will be options involved depending on your budget.  That will just be further down the process.  

The first option is a configurable build, while the second is custom build. Which is better? There are advantages and disadvantages to both, it depends what you want and need.

The same is true with technology. For most of our needs there is an off the shelf configurable option available. It won’t be a perfect fit, but is likely 75% of what we need. And we can likely configure it to meet another 10% of our needs. For the last 15%, we either need to create a work around or change our processes to fit it.

Or we can go the bespoke custom route. Gather requirements, user stories, map the architecture, and so on. And then build our bespoke, custom, beauty that seamlessly fits with our processes and other systems.

There is no right answer. The choice is up to you. The critical thing to remember is each route requires different skillsets and time commitment. The configuration route has more certainty of initial budget, while custom builds require more flexibility.

So which way is the better way? That choice is up to you.

Photo by Avel Chuklanov

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