Standard Products and Differentiators: Getting the Worst of Two Worlds

Time to retire the dinosaur system born in the seventies. How hard can it be with today’s technology? There are plenty of standard products out there that can do the job. And you get so much additional functionality instantly plus all the features planned in the beautiful product road map!

But this little dinosaur was brought up in the middle of our core business and has learnt exactly how our business works, what’s important and how to really support those special operations needed to make a difference. It’s reliable and its few misbehaviouors are well-known. It also has a dedicated team working with it every day, looking after it and teaching it new skills.

The standard product walks in and is being evaluated. Apparently quite a lot of important functionality is actually missing so customisation is needed. This customisation needs to be developed by the vendor. A vendor with many big clients with high demands. We need to negotiate to get slots for our needs. These slots are very expensive.

One day a new great version is released, something the users have been looking forward to. It’s just that: we can’t upgrade to the new release because we have so much customisation. All the customised pieces need to be adjusted to the new version. And we need to wait for a slot…

What happens is we end up with the worst of two worlds:

  1. A standard product with all the related costs for licenses, support and customisation but without the ability to harvest from new versions since we have customised the product too much.
  2. A key differentiator for our business in the hands of a vendor, slowing down, if not stopping, that necessary fast development.

Don’t go this way:  be careful when replacing your legacy systems, own the development of your differentiators!



Market Risk of Change, notes from Kanban Master Class

One thought on “Standard Products and Differentiators: Getting the Worst of Two Worlds

  1. True Grit – The Agile PMO

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