Customization vs. Configuration in Dynamics 365

dynamics 365

Dynamics 365 Sales is an extremely powerful sales process management tool. Every organization has a different sales process, different KPIs, and generally just a different way to do things. Often, we hear from potential clients that Dynamics 365 Sales does not have the same terminology that they use in their day to day sales processes. They are concerned that it would be too difficult to “customize” the system to meet their needs.

Customize vs. Configure

Customize and Configure are two terms that we tend to use interchangeably when we talk about implementing software. In reality, these terms mean very different things. Customize is defined as “modify to suit a particular individual or task”. Configure is defined as “arrange or order so as to fit it for a designated task”. While these terms are very similar, in regard to software implementation they mean completely different things.

In software development, when we talk about customization, we are generally referring to something that is a change or new piece of code. Customizations change the way the system natively functions. A true customization will be done by a business software developer and it will change the way the system functions and behaves.

When we talk about configuration, these are simple changes or set-ups in a system. Configuration is when you make the system work for the end user’s day to day tasks. This could be changing the layout of a screen, renaming a file, etc. These changes can be done by a consultant and do not require any new code to be developed.

Customize vs. Configure in Dynamics 365 Sales

Dynamics 365 Sales is a powerful sales management tool with fast functionality. However, every organization uses different terminology and has a different sales process. When you look at this solution you may think that it would require customization to have the system reflect your internal lingo and procedures. In actuality, it is minor configuration changes that need to happen. The core functionality of the system and they way it natively operates will work for almost anyone.

For example, a trade association doesn’t have customers, they have members. They need to track interaction, market to, and nurture these members exactly the same way you would a customer. Changing the field name from “contact” to “member” is just a simple configuration in the system. Now, if the trade association wanted a tool to create orders at trade shows with a barcode scanner, and link to D365 to create orders and push to an ERP system there would be some development involved. This is a customization.

Customize, Configure, and Buy

Prior to the start of an implementation most consultants will do a workshop with the customer. This is when system configurations are discussed and documented, based on the customer’s unique business processes. This is also when any customizations would be discussed and deemed necessary.

There is a third piece that we haven’t discussed yet: third party solutions. Admittedly, I am very pro third party. Microsoft Dynamics has such a huge foot print that there are thousands of third-party tools developed specifically for Dynamics. For instance, Dynamics 365 Sales does not have built in credit card processing. This isn’t something you would need to custom build. You can simply purchase a tool like Nodus to plug and play for that functionality. When evaluating a customization, you should always see if there is something off the shelf. This can help with costs and will make the solution more manageable. There is always a time to build and a time to buy.

A great way to find third party tools for Dynamics 365 is on AppSource. AppSource is Microsoft’s marketplace for third party for solutions for Dynamics 365 and other Microsoft cloud solutions. Here you can find solutions or “apps” and consulting services. These apps and consulting services have all been vetted by Microsoft, so anyone can post an offering up here.

One of the benefits of using Dynamics 365 is the flexibility it offers for configuration, customization and third party tools. Sometimes this can feel overwhelming for users but having the power of choice is not something to overlook. If you are struggling with how you should deploy your system reach out to KTL Solutions today to talk about all your options!

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