When I’m discussing how our software can be tailored to fit particular needs with potential clients, I’m always careful to make a distinction between using the term “personalize” to describe the process vs. “customize.” It may seem like a small nit to pick, but though their meanings are similar enough to be used interchangeably in many circumstances, that is definitely not the case for management software – and certainly not for ours.
What’s The Difference?
By definition, “customize” means to build, fit or alter according to individual specifications. “Personalize,” on the other hand, means to make personal or individual. When you’re talking software, specifically, customization means changing the way the solution itself works to fit your needs. At face value, that doesn’t sound so bad, right? The underlying assumption though is that the software in question doesn’t perform the way you need it to in the first place.
Think about it like this: If you were in the market for a new car, does it make more sense to buy a truck and have it rebuilt as your dream car or should you just cut to the chase and buy a Corvette with a few additional options to make it your own? You end up with an awesome ride either way, but one is much more difficult, time-consuming and expensive than the other. The same is true for management software.
If you opt for a one-size-fits-all solution with customizations to suit your workflows vs. software that has been purpose-built from the ground-up for the events industry, in collaboration with event professionals, you set yourself up from the very beginning to encounter a variety of unnecessary challenges.
The biggest and most obvious downside to software that has to be customized is the additional cost. Depending on how much you need to change to make it work for you, this can vary from minimal amounts to a hair-raising sum. Suddenly, what seemed like a bargain can become the most expensive option on the table.
Aside from added costs, customizations can also take a considerable amount of time – dragging out the onboarding process and lengthening the timeline for when you can expect to begin realizing any kind of returns on your investment.
You should also consider that custom changes are often universal for all users and are locked down tight once they’re complete. Should your needs change or expand in the future, you start from square-one again.
The Upside of Personalization
On the other side of the coin, management software that can be personalized starts with the functionality you need and offers the flexibility to make it your own with a few small tweaks. System-wide modifications ensure that the software speaks the language of your organization, while adjustments on an individual level allow each user to see and operate the software in a way that works best for them. Should the needs of the business or the role of a user change, personalize-able software will grow and change right along with them.
An additional benefit of personalization over customization that is often overlooked is a shorter path to ROI. How so? As I already mentioned, if you have to spend less to begin with in order to get a software solution that works for your business, you’re already ahead of the game! But another key factor in realizing ROI as it relates to management software is the rate of adoption. A complicated, rigid solution is going to take much longer to truly catch on with users (if ever!). Personalized software that is flexible and familiar, on the other hand, becomes an ingrained part of daily routines at a much faster pace.