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Technology: Customized vs. Standardized

by Kevin G. on November 7, 2014

Let’s look at the differences in technology custom solutions (one-off solutions) compared to standardized solutions. Virtually, everything we access, use, and purchase is based upon a standardized model. However, all of these models were originally a great customization of some sort or they would have never become standardized.
 
So, what got me thinking about customization vs. standardization? I would love to say it was my contemplative analysis of our industry and our marketplace combined with my altruistic approach to what is best for our clients. However, and in an attempt to be completely honest, it was a result of my Thanksgiving dinner. What? Yeah, that’s right; my mind is never far from my next meal.
 
How does Thanksgiving dinner correspond to this topic? I started to think about the “customized” Thanksgiving meals that I grew up with and how those compared to the more modern “standardized” meals that my family has moved towards in recent years.
 
You know what I mean by customized Thanksgiving, right? The Thanksgivings we used to spend all day at Grandma’s preparing.  All the adults scurrying around the kitchen peeling and mashing potatoes, pulling the unspeakable things out of the inside of the turkey and then using it to prepare the homemade stuffing, baking the yeast rolls that had been rising since the night before, making homemade cranberry sauce, and don’t forget the all-day roasting of the turkey. Days of preparation, hours of cooking and baking in a kitchen that was somewhat akin to a warzone, and hours of clean-up to boot (and that does not even account for the time it took to repair the plumbing the year Aunt Sarah put the potato peels in the garbage disposal).
 
If you wanted a Thanksgiving feast, that was your only option. Times have changed. How so? A few years ago we realized that the time, effort, and expense that went into one meal led to nothing but chaos. Our local grocer has decided to standardize the Thanksgiving meal. Now, we simply call, select the dishes and quantities we want, pick them up the night before, and then spend about an hour preparing our meal. What’s the result? We have fewer dishes to wash, easier preparation at a fraction of the cost. Oh yeah, (don’t tell my mother) it simply tastes better. Sorry Mom, but you never prepared a turkey that was not as dry as a bone! The bottom line is that the standardized Thanksgiving feast has far more benefits than the customized Thanksgiving feast.
 
Believe it or not, this correlates directly to the technology services in the marketplace. Yes, we started by having to customize every solution. However, as time went on, we were able to duplicate our efforts in a faster, more efficient, and more affordable way. Every single one of our solutions truly is a customization, just a customization that has been repeated dozens or even hundreds of times. Just like you can pick the dishes and sides you want, well, you can select the software suite or modules that work best for your community. We can then provide these solutions in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost as traditional technology customization. Just like no two families ordered the exact Thanksgiving feast, no two of our clients have the exact same technology solution. However, because we have standardized many of our solutions, our clients are saving time and saving money.  Also, just like our Thanksgiving meal, they are saving themselves from a lot of chaos too!
 
So, the next time you need a technology solution for your community, whether that be a web portal for your land records data (Beacon™), a GIS editing suite (Geogear™), or a workflow management tool (Permitting™), don’t be lured by expensive, one-off solutions. Then again, if you would rather be cleaning the kitchen and scrubbing the dishes all afternoon, I’ll be watching the game with a full stomach!