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“Configurability” and “Customization”: two words you've no doubt come across when researching EHS software solutions. They're often used interchangeably. But do they mean the same thing? If not, what's the difference? And is one better than the other?

Despite the fact that each term is often used in place of the other, there is a difference. If "This is going to be expensive” is your first thought upon seeing or hearing the word custom, you are correct. "Customized vs. Configurable Software Solutions: Which Should You Choose?" does an excellent job of breaking down why this is the case. 

A customized solution is one “developed specifically and only for one customer, locking that organization into a static workflow that can only be changed by hiring cost prohibitive engineers to make updates to the system’s code.” On the other hand, a configurable system “is an out-of-the-box solution that allows the owner to easily personalize certain aspects of the system themselves, without the help of experienced software developers.” Where customization requires changes to software code, configuration is a matter of personalizing the system based on your needs and preferences. 

A hallmark of successful, cloud-based SaaS software, configurability provides users with an array of options for unique configurations while still drawing from a single, underlying code base. Compared to customized software, this typically means: 

  • shorter implementation times, 

  • a lower overall cost of ownership, 

  • updates that do not require resources on the part of the user, 

  • the ability to make changes to the software after going live without the need to involve the service team or developers 

  • and the ability to see (via case studies, participation in user conferences, etc.) how other organizations configured the system in new and innovative ways that might be useful in addressing a challenge your organization is facing. 

What does configurable EHS software look like? 

When it comes to purchasing EHS software, very few organizations will need a customized solution. Truly configurable solutions will be able to handle even the most complex processes and workflows at a fraction of the price. Instead of choosing between custom or configurable EHS software, the challenge becomes one of determining what sets one configurable solution apart from the others. 

Simply put, configurable EHS software can be adapted to meet your processes, rather than requiring you to make changes based on system limitations. This can be as basic as the ability to easily change the name and input type of fields for regulatory audits. It can also be much more complex, such as building your own widgets for reporting using role-based permissions and business rules to trigger specific workflows. 

Configurability means the ability to mirror location hierarchies, tailor incident reporting, or build reports based on needs of organization. The result is the ability to leverage data to discover the root causes of your incidents and injuries, put proactive measures in place to reduce risks and hazards, and ultimately send workers home safe.  

Take, for example, the case of Compass Group. Origami Risk was initially implemented to — among other uses — support a behavior-based safety program. To date, the administrators at the organization are also using the system to rapidly design and implement creative solutions to challenges across the enterprise, as demonstrated in their response to the severe flooding that followed Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in August 2017 and business evolution throughout — and after — the COVID-19 pandemic

Are some EHS software solutions more configurable than others? 

As mentioned, configurability is a central component of cloud-based, SaaS software. As such, almost all modern EHS software solutions will offer some degree of configurability. When evaluating this aspect of software solutions, what separates one from another can be difficult to spot. 

The ease with which an EHS solution can be configured means that changes can be made quickly, as they are needed. When it comes to configurability, is it possible to make changes on-the-fly? Or do changes require putting in a ticket then waiting? And waiting. 

Another factor to account for is the role the vendor's service and support teams will play in ensuring you're able to take full advantage of the ability to configure the system — during initial system implementation and beyond. That team’s experience and the ability to understand what you are looking to achieve is critical. Case studies and speaking to client references can often serve as an initial indicator of just how successful a vendor is in this regard. 

When configurability and service come together 

Configurability, combined with the experience and insight of Origami Risk service professionals, allows for the optimization of our EHS solution suite to meet the unique, specific, real-world challenges that each of our clients face. The result is the implementation of solutions that can have a major impact on an organization’s safety culture. Another major focus of Origami Risk’s approach to service is equipping clients to take advantage of configurability in order to drive the evolution of their own systems. This means that they will not only solve today’s most pressing challenges but will also be ready for whatever may come tomorrow.  

Learn more about our EHS solution suite by requesting a demo here. 

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