Opinionated Software

Consider:

Enterprise > Medium to Large Business > Small business

As a product’s target market moves from right to left in the above diagram, its configuration and customisation options grow and become more sophisticated and complex. This makes sense, as an organisation becomes larger, it’s more cost effective to change the software than it is to change the people and the process, so the software must be customisable to meet Enterprise needs.

This also has the effect that to the right of the diagram the software can afford to be opinionated. That is, the software can say ‘this is the methodology and process that we follow and support, and to get the best results, you should too’. Opinionated software will still provide configuration options (everyone needs something a little different) but the underlying philosophy is that it’s cheaper to change the process and people to the meet the software. As software moves towards the Enterprise end of the continuum, it becomes less opinionated and more generic as it’s required to cater to a wider degree of needs – relying on configuration and customisation to allow the enterprise to enforce its opinions on the software.

Both approaches have implications worth considering when choosing off the shelf (or custom) software for your business. The question to ask is, is it more economical to change my processes, or change the software?