Avoiding the custom code car crash

One of the biggest myths we hear time and again is that customizing a content management solution is the only way to deliver requested business…

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Judy Costigan

October 4, 20237 minute read

One of the biggest myths we hear time and again is that customizing a content management solution is the only way to deliver requested business functionality. Our experience shows the opposite to be true. Customization (using custom code) is usually costly, fraught with issues and locks a business into a system that makes change virtually impossible. It can easily become a car crash!

Why do I say this? Let me give you a real-world example. A large global high-tech manufacturer had customized its content management platform over many years. More and more custom code had been added without rationalizing previous customizations, which led to difficulties in maintenance and upgrading. The organization’s digital transformation strategy meant migrating to the Cloud but the company’s content management platform – core to their key business processes – was now so heavily customized that it could not be ported.

And this is far from an isolated tale. Customization often begins with the best of intentions and ends with the worst of nightmares.

Overview of customization vs. configuration

While custom coding offers the promise of doing virtually anything you may want to do, the cost (financial, time and business agility) can be way too high for your business. It takes a long time in development and testing before the business can benefit, or in a worst-case situation, become non-compliant. Any software change has to go through the same process, potentially slowing business change to a halt and impacting revenue and reputation.

The Covid pandemic taught every business that change can happen at lightning speed and your systems have to be adaptable enough to ensure business continuity. Custom applications are likely to be a barrier to this level of business agility.

In addition, you’re going to need a large IT team to make and maintain custom code changes. Software upgrades to a core platform are difficult – if not impossible – leading to the business being delayed or ignoring an upgrade. If a developer leaves, then it’s likely their knowledge of the system goes with them, putting the operation of the entire system at risk.

The alternative solutions are low-code applications – such as the OpenText Business Solutions for Extended ECM from KineMatik – designed to allow easy configuration via out-of-the-box features via an intuitive user interface that provides the ability to add or change users, forms, page layouts, security, workflows and more.

You can take the pressure off your IT team by involving business users in system management and configuration. Process owners can be intimately involved so the changes they actually need are prioritized and delivered as required. New functionality and software upgrades are easily added without breaking the platform or any existing integrations.

Your business becomes far more resilient while facilitating agile business change. And, in today’s cloud-driven world, we increasingly expect the same amount of quick and easy configuration from our business systems as we do from our personal cloud solutions and apps. Success in attracting and retaining staff – both in IT and business – can rely on the quality of your digital systems.

The benefits of configuration for content management

In truth, the customization vs. configuration argument is virtually the same for any enterprise application. But there are a number of reasons for always selecting out-of-the-box configured solutions when dealing with content management:

  • Bringing business and IT together
    With minimal training, authorized business users can quickly learn how to routinely configure software to meet their ever-changing business requirements, freeing up IT resources for other projects. These ‘citizen developers‘ can define the business process and develop the application without any coding experience. They can work with IT to ensure their application aligns with existing IT infrastructure, standards, security and other configured applications.
  • Mapping content to process
    The role of content within business processes is changing for many organizations as part of their digital transformation initiatives. There is more drive to create content via workflow processes to ensure traceability of the review and approval process. Many of these workflows are still evolving, so configurable content applications become the optimal way to provide agile process updates that users require in a timely and cost-effective manner.
  • Speeding the deployment of new content features and applications
    Allowing business administrators and IT resources to work together using configurable content solutions not only improves the quality of the system, it also accelerates configuration and deployment. By removing the need for custom coding, the amount of error is reduced, which, in turn, reduces the need for extensive regression testing. IT resources are freed up resulting in a higher throughput of change requests. In addition, as configuration leaves the core platform intact, it’s straightforward to upgrade as soon as new versions of the software are released.
  • Employ content best practices
    Content management platforms are more than simple functionality. They are the evolution of years of industry best practice and real-world experience. As soon as you begin to customize the platform, you begin to move away from the ability to fully exploit this learning and run the risk of breaking some features made available in updates. Configuring out-of the-box business process solutions on your content management platform allows you to always benefit from the built-in best practices in the software. For instance, the KineMatik Business Process Applications for Extended ECM offer out-of-the-box adaptable and configurable business processes utilizing a range of customer best practices.
  • Embrace the Cloud
    The more customization that has occurred, the more complex any migration to the Cloud will be. But, migrating to the Cloud is the direction of travel. AIIM has found that 78% of organizations would favor the Cloud for any new or consolidated content management solution. Configuration helps by ensuring the core platform can be migrated easily, while the configurations can be ported with little or no rework. In addition, the new cloud content management system will offer a degree of configurability that may not be possible from the Cloud alone. KineMatik business solutions have been certified for OpenText™ Content Cloud to give assurance that advanced Cloud-based content processes can be delivered with flexibility and adaptability built in.

Do we still need custom code?

Can configurable business process applications for your content management platform solve all of your business problems? The traditional belief has been that it can’t – there will always be a business need that requires custom coding. However, we have never had a customer request that could not be solved through configuration. Many organizations are now looking to replace their custom code with low-code applications helping accelerate them to the Cloud.

Today, configurable business process solutions from KineMatik all deliver extensibility using APIs to create new features and integrations without ever modifying the core platform. For example, OpenText Business Application Builder for Extended ECM allows for applications to be configured to meet end-user business requirements and extend the value and connectivity of your content management platform within your organization and beyond. 

Against this backdrop, news site Medium suggests that custom coding – whether for content management or any other enterprise application – is likely to be obsolete within the next few years. We agree. The pace of business change is not about to slow any time soon. Business must be agile and flexible. Users demand content at their fingertips. Only configurable out-of-the-box content solutions are able to meet the needs of end users and businesses alike.

About KineMatik

KineMatik works with organizations worldwide to create success in their digital and content services transformation by developing innovative and tailored business process automation solutions. Together with OpenText, the leaders in information management, we help organizations connect data, content and processes to maximize productivity and enhance information availability, value and security.  KineMatik Business Process solutions offer out-of-the-box adaptable and configurable business processes utilizing best practices. Our process automation capabilities will clearly demonstrate to every organization exactly the value that information management brings to drive business success.

Let us help meet your business process challenges. Contact us today to arrange a confidential call to discuss your specific requirements.

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Judy Costigan

Judy Costigan has more than 25 years of experience in the technology industry, working with organizations of all sizes– from large enterprises to start-ups. As a Director of Marketing & Partner Alliances at KineMatik, recently acquired by OpenText, Judy has a wealth of process automation knowledge. Her background in technical support gives Judy a unique perspective when it comes to helping organizations navigate their digital and content services transformations and she demonstrates how tailored business process automation solutions can help them meet their daily challenges, improve efficiencies and drive revenue.

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