Balancing the Flexibility and Simplicity of Configuration

Configuring an enterprise business application like a complex Lending and Leasing systems is a challenging task. It can be a very tiring and detailed activity, particularly if the businessperson isn’t deeply familiar with the system they’re configuring, or the configuration hasn’t been designed with clarity and usability in mind.

Most commonly, you perform configuration in one of two scenarios: during initial setup when you have plenty of time, or during an emergency reconfiguration when you need to handle an incident.

With hundreds of knobs, configuring an enterprise business application software to ensure high re-liability and performance becomes a daunting and error-prone task

Question new Configuration Parameters?

One fundamental reason is the ever-increasing complexity of configuration, which is reflected by the large number of parameters (“knobs”). These configuration parameters are added over time, as the enterprise business applications evolves with new functionalities in every software release.

Typically, a configuration parameter is introduced when the business analyst and developers want to provide more flexibility for users. Since they both don’t have the means and time to do the proper research with multiple customers and use cases, they are not sure what is a good choice; So why not make it configurable?

What is the Cost of Complex Configuration?

The costs of an enterprise software for an implementation increases significantly due to the complexity of the configuration. This raises the question of whether it is worth satisfying a few advanced users or even imaginary users, while confusing the majority of the other users.

Add self-Service Questions and Validations

One way to reduce configuration overhead is to introduce a simple UI process based on a set of questions regarding enterprise business practices. This type of a business configuration approach simplifies the system customization by reducing the traditional implementation workload. Knowing which questions to ask, which context to use a fine-grained configuration requires careful consideration and a deep understanding of the customer landscape.

As a product owner, it is your key responsibility to balance the flexibility and simplicity of the configuration. Adding an option to Automatically Validate the configuration for common errors significantly reduces the chances of undesirable results.

About the Author:
Vinay Bhatia is an experienced product leader, passionate about building financial products that delight customers. He has an extensive background in technology, cloud and agile software development.


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