Why software customisation matters

Johannesburg, 26 Nov 2021
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Lesedi Lebogo, Managing Director, TechRoid Solutions.
Lesedi Lebogo, Managing Director, TechRoid Solutions.

Today's organisation is a complicated place. It may have many tools and services to help employees, but these frequently add unnecessary bureaucracy and processes layers.

Processes, in particular, are often poorly designed or merely plaster over other procedural issues.

As a result, companies become less efficient through the systems they hoped would improve their efficiency.

The fundamental problem is that the people using those processes have little say in how they work. Designing interfaces in software for related processes are cumbersome and demanding on IT time.

But modern software platforms are changing that conversation, says Lesedi Lebogo, Managing Director of TechRoid Solutions, an ELO Business Partner.

"A lot of people don't know that they can customise modern software interfaces with little to no technical knowledge. It's one of the great advantages of software, and what we can use to match workflow and processes with how people work."

The rise of ECM customisation

ECM, or enterprise content management, provides an excellent example of the customisation trend. Enterprise content is one of the golden threads that connect people, processes and technology in enterprises, ensuring company knowledge supports business outcomes. ECM systems often provide the primary interfaces through which employees and customers can capture or access important information.

"ECM helps companies to organise, manage and distribute unstructured content, such as images, orders, delivery and container codes, e-mails and web pages. Companies also often use ECM to store, track, edit and collaborate on information. An ECM often engages with business users who might not be tech-savvy but still use technology consistently to do their jobs," Lebogo explains.

An ECM demonstrates the synergy between business interactions with processes through technology. It's thus a common problem that when users cannot align interfaces with their process knowledge, they will find other ways to get things done. This reduces efficiencies and often undoes attempts to make workflows more usable. The scenario is very familiar to people who work with older software. Such systems might offer functionality through different modules, but it takes time and money to customise them sufficiently - providing that is even possible.

"Customisation was more a wish than a capability for older software. With the adoption of cloud and methodologies like agile, now customisation requires a lot less. Legacy systems often had to start from scratch in order for them to customise. But today you have no-code drag-and-drop capabilities, pre-configuration templates, template marketplaces, and other ways to customise forms according to how you want them to look."

Using customisation strategically

No- and low-code environments enable non-IT business people to adjust interface templates, while modern security and administrative tools ensure appropriate access rights and security. Customisation today can be so simple that companies even risk taking it for granted. But Lebogo warns against this.

"I've seen the opposite of forcing rigid interfaces on users. Sometimes enterprises become so excited about customisation that they just give free rein to whoever needs to do it. That's a mistake - you want to use customisation as a strategic tool."

How can one best leverage modern customisation features? He offers the following tips:

  • Know your pain points and design customisation strategies to resolve those areas.
  • Create policies to guide the best uses and designs for customisation.
  • Avoid customisation siloes: have users document customisation choices.
  • Develop a library of templates for users to select based on your company requirements.
  • Understand the skill levels of employees for different customisation levels, including more technical support from IT and the platform provider.

There was once a time where what you bought was what you used, and making changes to a form could take months as you waited for available IT resources. Today, software interfaces can turn on a dime. ECM platforms are vibrant examples of customisation's many exciting possibilities, creating new ways for business users and customers to engage with an enterprise's technology estate.

A small change by the right person in the right place can create those advantages every business longs to create. Applications such as ECM platforms are helping companies realise the possibilities of user customisation to gain efficiencies and boost productivity.

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