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Last Updated: August 04 2020
If the standard solutions of simPRO do not meet your business needs, you may request a customisation. We generally discourage this because we have found ways to make the standard offerings work for most businesses, with just a slight shift in your current workflows.
Before requesting a customisation, please take a look at our most frequently asked questions about customisations below and consider all the implications of a custom solution.
To request a customisation, describe your requirements in as much detail as possible, and include any attachments such as marked-up forms or spreadsheets showing column headings and field calculations.
If we feel there is a viable workaround or if the customisation does not fit with the overall logic of our product, we may decline your request and help you to find the best solution in other ways.
We recommend against customising your system for the following reasons:
Customisations cost money: Customisations and additional changes resulting from your initial customisation request cost money, which you should not have to spend if it is not a good long-term investment. Ask yourself: will this customisation save your business money in the long run; will you get a good return on this investment? You should only proceed with customisation if your answers to both these questions is a resounding 'Yes!'
Development takes time: We have built a lot of flexibility into simPRO, so it only takes you a few minutes to tweak your setup and get your system operating optimally. Meanwhile, our current customisation development lead time takes five to seven weeks after accepting our Solutions Architect's customisation design document, signing off on the quote and paying the deposit. The document itself would also require a fair bit of time to prepare, in order to cater for all the possible conditions and flows.
Customisations make your system unique: That sounds positive, but unique is just another way of saying 'non-standard', which can cause problems. For example, it can make part of your system inflexible; you may be unable to adjust certain parts of the setup or access new features that other clients can easily access.
Customisations can break: What if the software you used was never updated? Regular software updates are part of what make our products great, especially because we regularly add new features suggested by users. However, because of these new features and technology, your customisation may not work correctly, or may be incompatible with enhancements incorporated into the software. This then costs you more time and money to fix the broken item, unless you have a CMA that covers the costs of having these fixed. We will prioritise these fixes but please note that we cannot give timeframes until the issues are fully investigated.
These disadvantages of customisations are why we encourage you to use a standard solution, as well as why we will do our best to help you find the right one.
If you just joined simPRO (or are trialling it), customisations would seem like the best option to adjust the system to your processes. However it is very probable that you will find new ways of doing things in simPRO very soon, and what you deemed as an absolute necessity at the start, may need to be significantly reworked or dropped altogether. This would mean potential stress and a loss of money for you. Hence it is recommended that you start using simPRO first, and only request customisation after 6-12 months after going live - then you will be best equipped to get a solution that really works for you, in established workflows.
The following customisations are most frequently requested by our clients and generally do not affect your ability to receive software updates:
PDF Forms to be sent or printed from the system such as invoice, quote, or job form customisations.
Reports to give you customised analysis of your business. If the information is already available in the system, we can display it in a customised version of an existing report (e.g. with a new column or a new filter), or alternatively, we can create a new, customised report.
Scripts to perform background tasks or to automate parts of your workflow, for example, importing, archiving, or making bulk changes at a database level.
We strongly recommend against customisations that are effectively cosmetic changes, because if your preferences change later, you will need to repeat the customisation process, incurring further charges and taking significant time.
Please note that not all products are customisable. The difficulty of maintaining custom versions while providing regular updates to our existing products would be significantly expensive to maintain, as we would spend more time updating custom versions than releasing features.
Specifically, we do not customise core pages or mobile applications such as simPRO Mobile, Connect, eForms and simTRAC.
We need to know exactly what you want, and the only way for us to establish that is by asking you about every aspect of your request in detail. We don't want to work on assumptions, as that risks the end result appearing differently from what you pictured.
The question you will hear the most is, 'Why?'
Many of our clients tell us what they want to see, which is a great starting point, but only one solution. We want to go right back to the problem you want to address and come up with alternative solutions, such as cheaper or simpler customisations to implement, or ideally, suggest features already included in our standard product.
We will also ask you a lot of questions about the data that you want to use, where it comes from, and what it really means. For example, if we are customising a report, we might ask, 'What does "start date" mean for your business? How does it differ from our definition?'
It is only by asking these questions that we will really understand your goal and deliver the best solution for you.
When considering a customisation, please make sure you engage the end user(s) from the start, getting input from the actual person who will be using the function. Make sure they (a) know the system well enough, and (b) have read the scope and approved the solution. This will reduce the risk of you spending thousands on development, and then discovering there is critical functionality missing, requiring further investment.
As each customisation is unique, they are estimated individually, which means we cannot provide a quote until our Solutions Architect has fully determined all requirements and scoped a solution. The quoted amount includes scoping, development, testing and uploading process, as well as reasonable time requirements for each stage as determined by our expert developers.
Keep in mind that although the customisation may look simple, the system and processes underneath are complex. We need to do significant background work to ensure your system remains strong and supported, including backing up your build, investigating the database structure with data that is applicable for your industry, and checking thousands of lines of code to ensure the solution will fit.
We then implement and test the changes thoroughly in both development and staging builds before releasing to your live build. All of this takes time; it is never a five-minute job.
Besides a one-off cost for development, all customisation quotes include the maintenance component, also referred to as CMA. This charge would be activated when the customisation is delivered to you.
We reserve the right to request a deposit upon approval before the works can commence. The deposit amount may vary depending on the customisation size and other factors. The deposit is non refundable, the only exception being cancellation of job before any works have been started.
There is a risk that your customisation may 'break' due to the changes we need to make to the core simPRO software to implement new features and updates.
With every customisation we will automatically include a Customisation Maintenance Agreement (CMA) which is a recurring fee charged at 20% per annum (paid monthly) on the full price of the customisation (before any discounts were applied).
The CMA with simPRO ensures that we will rectify any problems with the customisation caused by our updates to the core product for the duration of the agreement at no additional cost.
We rely on you to advise us of any customisation breaks. As the CMA does not give you any precedence in the development queue (though we do take into account the urgency of your request) we urge you to contact us as soon as possible with full details of the issue, including the date you first noticed the problem and screen captures or other samples that clearly illustrate the problem.
For customisations that do not have a CMA (prior to putting our CMA agreements in place), you will be charged as normal for any fixes at the usual customisation development rates.
The CMA only covers fixes to customisations where the break was caused by a simPRO update. It does not cover any functional changes you may request, or breaks caused by modifications by the client or any other entity; these will be quoted separately. For example, if you use a customisation to import a file from a third party, and the third party then changes the file format, this will not be covered by the CMA. It will be treated as any other change of requirements, requiring a new scope and quote.
You may need your data available in another system or to integrate with a different application. We provide an Application Program Interface (API) which you can use to integrate and extract simPRO data.
We do not typically write these applications for you but we do have a list of recommended partners who can write applications and integrations to assist you with your application and data requirements.
If you believe many businesses have requirements similar to what you want, please post your idea on the Ideas Forum by going to Help > Submit an Idea in simPRO. If other clients vote for your request, it may get implemented in the core product as part of our regular release schedule.
We cannot show you how a custom report will work in the system without actually developing it, which we cannot do during the scoping phase.
However, we can show you a small sample of representative data in a spreadsheet or image file to give you a clear impression of the layout and purpose of the report so you can check it meets your business needs. The key word here is 'sample'; please don't confuse this with data entry.
Once the customisation has been implemented, it may differ visually from the examples provided, but the functionality will remain the same. For example, the filter buttons may be in a different spot on the page, but they will still perform the same function.
We thoroughly investigate and scope all proposed customisations to avoid this situation, but we occasionally find during development or testing that the original approach interferes with core functionality, or reduces flexibility for further development. If this happens, we need to take a different approach to avoid creating incompatibilities.
We understand this may be inconvenient for you, but as is the case with most software development, we need to be flexible. We will let you know if this rare situation arises, and do all we can to minimise the disruption.
Our current development lead time is five to seven weeks from the date you approve the quote, and pay the deposit. During this time, our developers are working through our backlog of customisations and improving our core product, so there is no way to jump the queue.
We encourage you to use this time to reconsider your decision to customise and to check that the approved customisation is exactly what you require, especially as this is your last opportunity to cancel your request or make small changes. Any considerable changes will need to be fully scoped and estimated again, with another five to seven weeks of lead time after your quote approval.
After the lead time, we will start developing the customisation. The estimated development and testing time is outlined in the customisation quote, but if problems arise, it may take longer.
Our quotes are only valid for 30 days. Any quotes not approved within thirty days must be re-scoped and re-estimated.
As our developers are constantly improving our core product, these ongoing changes must be considered in the customisation scope. We encourage you to approve the quote as soon as you are confident it's the right solution, as only approved quotes are added to the development queue.
If you have approved the quote, you will have received an email confirmation from simPRO letting you know the job number and the development ticket number for your request. Please use these numbers as a reference whenever you make enquiries.
Remember the customisation is only added to our development queue once you have approved the quote and paid the deposit. If you cannot find our confirmation, please check whether you have sent your approval before contacting us for an update.
As outlined in our Terms and Conditions, simPRO retains ownership of all code we create, including code developed for the purpose of customisation.
However, we understand that the source code is a critical part of your business systems and you will want assurance that it can be accessed and maintained if required. At your request, we can place the source code in software escrow with Assurex Escrow Pty Ltd once you have an agreement in place with them.
Once you receive the message that the customisation is available for testing or has been included on your production system, you are expected to thoroughly test and confirm it works as per the scope that you have approved within ten business days. Please do this as soon as possible, as it is much easier to get a developer to make fixes to a 'freshly-baked' customisation.
If you fail to confirm the customisation is satisfactory or send feedback within 10 business days, we will consider this as signed off and finalise the contract. The balance of the original invoice must be paid as soon as possible, otherwise we reserve the right to disable the customisation if payment is not received within a month's time.
If you find any issues with the implemented solution, please let us know immediately. Fixes will not incur any fees if you have a CMA. For older customisations that are not covered by a CMA, the warranty period of three months from implementation date would apply. If issues are discovered after the warranty period, you may incur a cost to rectify them.
Our scoping phase is aimed at thoroughly exploring your requirements to give you the best possible solution. When you approve the quote with the attached scope, you are confirming that the scoped customisation meets all your requirements.
Our developers work from this approved scope. Should you later decide the approved customisation does not meet your requirements, we will need to go through the scoping phase with you again.
Any amendments taking over 30 minutes of development time will incur a further charge.
Yes. This is why it is so important for you to thoroughly check the scope meets your requirements prior to approving the quote.
This is one reason why we discourage customisations. It usually means the customisation is no longer compatible with some core software components.
Please assess whether you still need the customisation. If the customisation is not critical to your business, you may instead choose to remove the customisation, which we will do free of charge. If requested, we will attempt to fix it, but this development work will incur additional charges unless the customisation is within its warranty period or covered by CMA.
Unfortunately, we are unable to quote for the required works in advance because the time taken to uncover the cause of the break and then rewrite the code is so highly variable. Therefore if a warranty or CMA is not applicable, we will ask you to agree to pay all charges associated with fixing the customisation.
Once you have confirmed you will pay charges, we can begin development. The fix may take some time, but we will take into account the urgency of your request. If the broken customisation interrupts your workflow, we can disable it until it has been fixed.
Please refer to the warranty information contained in the Terms and Conditions you received as part of the customisation quote. If the specified warranty period has ended and a CMA is not activated, we may charge you for any work we perform to fix customisations broken by software updates.
The main reason for possible failures is that customisations are created for a particular version of simPRO. The customisation is static, while the core product is dynamic and evolves. Therefore when you receive feature updates, customisations can become obsolete. Although every care is taken to make them as independent as possible (so they last longer), they still use data, structures and formats of the core system, and when those change, customisations need to be amended too.
Keep in mind that customisations are done specially for you, and are therefore not covered under our standard Software Maintenance Agreement. Historically there was a three month warranty period, and any maintenance requested after that was chargeable. For all new customisations, a Customisation Maintenance Agreement (CMA) is provided. For older customisations without a CMA, you are more than welcome to request one, especially for where these are critically important for your business.
We would never introduce a bug to, or 'break' a customisation on purpose. This is counter-intuitive to what we do, which is to provide solutions. However, as we are not able to predict how the software will change in the future, bugs can occur.
There is a lot of effort involved on our end for a bug fix: we investigate the issue from the front end (confirmation and replication); locate / pull out the relevant code; take a database snapshot and install it on a local server; update the code (which can sometimes take several hours); run through quality assurance (QA); review code; upload code; and perform live QA where possible.
Many steps and multiple people are involved in the process, which is why we need to charge for fixing an issue (if no CMA is in place), The price charged for fixing does not even cover our costs, which is why we try to provide the best solution possible, and why we hate bugs just as much as you do.
That would be great! Please notify us immediately once you confirm internally that the customisation is no longer needed.We will clear the custom code from your build and remove the CMA charge from your account. If you have several customisations and only want to remove one, this is also fine, but may require some additional investigations / development to confirm the remaining customisations will keep working after the obsolete one is removed. Please note the past charges will not be credited because the works have already been done on our end.