Is your software fully customizable and configurable?

 Why this Matters: Your organization has specific data collection and reporting requirements that are likely to change over time. It is vital that the your tracking solution has the ability to generate custom forms and reports now, and in the future, without the need for programming changes, or danger of ‘version lock’. With ‘version lock’ the customization of a tracking system is dependant upon costly, time intensive programming changes. When new features or updates are released the client can not benefit from these updates without incurring prohibitive programming costs for reimplementation.  The end result is that the client remains ‘locked’ into a system that is increasingly limited, outdated and eventually obsolete.

DMS Answer: DMS offers affordable, long term flexibility with FirstTrak’s Vertical Software Engine (VSE).  This innovative solution allows DMS to quickly roll out updates and new functionalities to clients without the need for costly programming changes, and without loss of clients’ custom configurations. For a more in-depth explanation of the advantages of FirsTrak’s VSE system, please continue reading.

VSE™ distinguishes DMS from traditional software companies by being completely data driven.  To explain the benefit of this technology, consider the following scenario: A metropolitan area (Area A) purchases a non-DMS product.  A standard version of the system is the starting point for the project and then it is customized to the wants and needs of the client.  The result now becomes the new standard product.  Next, Area B purchases the product that is identical to Area A.  Through the course of the implementation, the product is customized to the wants and needs of Area B.  When finished, there are now two separate versions of the product – that of Area A and that of Area B.  For each additional client, there will also be a separate version for each installation.

Now suppose that when Area Z is implemented, a whole new feature has been developed that Areas A-Y all want to incorporate into their version.  With a non-VSE™ product, this is a painful process as the customizations have to be repeated for each area.  Each customization runs the risk of ‘breaking’ the existing system, so the testing and debugging process also has to be repeated.

This situation is known as ‘version lock’.  Due to the expense of adding in new features, the client cannot upgrade their product.  This is a well-known and common problem for any traditional software company.

With VSE™ technology, the ‘customizations’ are actually kept in a separate configuration file.  Areas A-Z would all have unique configuration files, but the application itself is consistent across all of them.  If they wish to upgrade and get the new features, they simply add the new configuration items and replace the old application with the upgraded version.  The upgrade process can be completed in a matter of hours or even minutes, not days or months.

Our business model is based upon a customized solution for each region we work with.  It may be a matter of a simple report or it could be entirely new forms and processes.  Either way, a non-VSE™ product will be subject to version lock and not scalable.  We have taken the pains to develop VSE™ (which pre-dates our company) so as not to be limited by this issue.

What this means to our clients, is that they are not ‘version locked’.  Updates to our engine and new functionality are easily rolled out to our client base and existing customizations remain in place.