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Construction and Customization


Once a company determines whether to Build or Buy (or some combination), the cross-functional team needs to evaluate specific software applications for suitability, functionality, ease of use and customization, projected shelf life, and other business factors.  Some companies develop applications from scratch, while others customize off-the-shelf packages or hire a software service provider.

Construction refers to building applications from scratch. Companies may choose Construction when there are no commercial packages available to meet the requirements. 

Customization refers to purchasing an off-the-shelf software package from a vendor or consultant that can be adapted, modified, and tailored to a company's specific business operations. 

 Key Concepts  
  • The concept of constructing software is similar to the concept of custom-home building. Software construction can be costly and require significant development time, specialized skills, and additional time to document the specifications discovered during the building process.
  • Properly managed, customizing off-the-shelf software can support the HSE-MIS Plan.
  • Revisit the Budget during this step.
 Practical Advice  

  • Make sure the change management process is functioning during this step. A rigorous change management will ensure that documentation, finished product, and expectations all match.
  • Evaluate how much Customization may have to be done during the initial evaluation process, not after the sale or after an upgrade. Be sure to identify who will do the Customization (in-house, vendor, or other party).
  • Understand how and to what extent the software provider can support any Customization prior to the purchase. 
  • Customized code may be necessary, but it should be done so as to minimize the impacts to the non-customized code. Customization increases the cost to upgrade software which may require vendor patches and upgrade scripts.
  • Challenge why Customization is required. If Customization is a must, document those processes to prevent having to rewrite code for minor changes and ensure long-term maintainability of the software product.  
  • If the HSE-MIS or other business processes cannot be changed to meet off-the-shelf software needs or if the cost of customization becomes too expensive, custom building may be the solution.
  • Most software upgrades don't cover customized portions of the software. The code developer should ensure that the customized portion can be isolated, so that the remaining code can be upgraded as necessary.
  • Negotiate with vendors to incorporate Customization into their core product.

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