Configuration vs. Customization in Intellectual Property (IP) Management Software

Because most progressive IP departments have unique ways of organizing and executing IP Strategy-an IP management software that works for one company isn’t necessarily going to work for the company down the block.

In order to deliver full value to the business, intellectual property management software must be adaptable to the needs of each department. When considering adaptability in IP management software, it is important to understand the difference between configuration and customization.The crux of the difference is complexity.

Configuration uses the inherent flexibility of the IP management software to add fields, change field names, modify drop-down lists, or change workflows. On the other hand, customization involves code changes in the base application to create functionality that is not currently available. In other words, If something is configurable, it means the existing software can be worked (via the standard user interface) to reflect the change. If it requires customization it means software code has to be changed (added or moved around) so the software can do what you want it to. Guess which one costs more?

Customization can be very costly and complicate future upgrades to the IP management software because the code changes may not easily migrate to the new version. Wherever possible, IP departments should avoid customization by using configuration to meet their goals.

During a typical demo, the vendor is going to focus your attention on the cool, “shiny” aspects of their system. It is important that you bring up this topic during the demo, because this issue alone can determine the possible outcome of your project.

Here is a list of top 3 questions to help you understand how should the IP management software be implemented to meet your requirements.

1. Is there coding involved for any changes to the application?

If the answer is yes, get yourself ready for heavy implementation costs (despite whatever the vendor initially quotes).

Coding means that some engineers will need to write or modify the code that is often unique to you. This means 2 things. First, it means money. Engineers make a lot of it. So more costs upfront. Second, customization add delays to the implementation, for code to be written and thoroughly tested. Even with careful project management, there is the possibility of the project’s slipping due to scope creep and other factors, and ultimately missing its deadline. If quality assurance is undercut in order for the project to come in on time, the result can be buggy software.

2. Who can perform the configuration/customization?

The best systems in the market are the ones that allow you, the customer, to perform configuration changes on your own. The skill level required to make these changes should be basic and the IP team including docketing clerks, administrators, patent counsels should be able to make most of the basic changes.

3. How will these changes affect future vendor upgrades?

That means if the customers add customized fields, reports and workflows, etc., can they still receive software updates every 4-6 months? That is, will the software updates overwrite their customizations?

Configuration do not affect future upgrades, Customization does. Customization prevent you from applying future upgrades without shelling out even more money to the vendor to reapply your customizations.

In short, customization adds cost, for the initial development, implementation as well as for long-term support. Configuration is economical in terms of both time and money and help you in future growth and better handling of change in future business requirements.

Make sure you get straight information from the vendor regarding configuration vs. customization. Your initial cost of purchase may seem very attractive, but the long-term total cost of ownership may end up being extremely high.

Lecorpio uniquely provides the most configurable Intellectual Property Management Software that adapts to the needs of each IP department. Because there is no coding required to make any change, Lecorpio customers are able to configure the logic of their applications with basic skills. This means the configuration happens more quickly and without the need to involve programmers or third-party consultants. The changes made by customers are carried over seamlessly in each release.

Learn about Lecorpio’s IP Management Software related products and more.