The desire to customize — to get a solution that fits exactly what you need and exactly how you want it to look — is tempting. However, over customization in the case of ITSM is a good way of not getting the best value for you or the supported business. This article by Markos Symeonides explains reasons behind customization, as well as the potential dangers of performing customization on-the-fly and without the long-view in mind. He then goes on to explain the sometimes ambiguous difference between customization and configuration, and when one should be chosen over the other: Customizations need to deliver highly-tangible business value to justify the investment. That's not to say there aren't times when customization is warranted, but when looking at ITSM, the technology available today has become so advanced, the need for customization has fallen by the wayside. Instead, those looking to implement a cost-conducive, agile, efficient solution with minimal risk should look to configuration. You may ask “what's the difference between customization and configuration?” There is one key differentiator that can enable an organization to save thousands of dollars and a multitude of implementation headaches. Configuration requires NO changes to the source code. Further, it has been widely recognized that out-of-the-box software for ITSM has matured significantly in recent years, ensuring that organizations no longer have to compromise on service quality or functionality. Symeonides then suggests a simple test to illustrate his points on customization and configuration: ask vendors to make their products fit your most complex workflows. Vendors who can configure will have a solution up and running quickly, whereas vendors who need to customize will not be able to have a solution ready anytime soon, if at all.
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