Monday, December 04, 2023

Customization Versus Configuration

During PeopleSoft Reconnect 2023, I posted a LinkedIn poll asking if Event Mapping is a Customization or a Configuration. Here is the final tally:

To apply maintenance faster and more often, we must reduce customizations, and configurations are the best alternative to customization. But how would you define a customization? How about a configuration?


My friend Graham Smith got it right in the poll comments when he said, "The definition of customisation is the changing of a delivered object." 100% correct. If you change a delivered definition, that change will appear in a compare report. If it appears in a compare report, you must analyze and retrofit that change. It is this "analyze and retrofit" effort that delays and even derails Get-current projects. But what if that "change" to a delivered definition happens at runtime through injection rather than design time through a direct code change? Is it still called a customization if the change happens at runtime?


This is where it gets tricky. Are Event Mapping, Drop Zones, and Page and Field Configurator configurations? They certainly facilitate configuration. But true configuration is an application-specific construct. Take data masking as an example. We can mask data through Event Mapping and Page and Field Configurator. Masking in this manner requires code that identifies component buffer fields. What if PeopleSoft removes those fields from the component buffer? Our solution would then fail. We might consider this a configuration because we didn't change Oracle-delivered code at design time. Alternatively, we could call it a customization because we changed Oracle-delivered code at runtime.

A true data masking configuration alternative is the Data Privacy Framework, which allows analysts to configure data masking across the application.

One way to think of it is, "who is responsible for fixing the solution if it breaks?" If the answer is Oracle, then it is a configuration. If the answer is you, then it may be a customization.

Isolated Customization

Think of an Isolated Customization as if you isolated your customization from Oracle's delivered codebase and configured PeopleSoft to reinject your customization at runtime. This describes Event Mapping, Drop Zones, and Page and Field Configurator. The value is that your customization no longer shows in a compare report because you have not modified Oracle's delivered code... or have you? Does the point of injection matter? Put another way, does it change the classification if you inject your modification at design time or runtime?

With the introduction of Event Mapping we also might need to see customization as "additional (custom) code to the delivered code." -- Malik Chagani

So here are my tests to help categorize items:

  • Does it show on a compare report? Customization
  • If it breaks, is it my responsibility to fix it? Customization or Isolated Customization
  • If it breaks, is it Oracle's responsibility to fix it? Configuration

Customization, Isolated Customization, or Configuration... why does it matter?
  • Customizations appear on compare reports. We must analyze and retrofit every customization. It is this effort that stalls Get-Current projects.
  • Isolated Customizations don't show on compare reports but have the potential to break when applying maintenance. We must analyze and retrofit Isolated Customizations when they are broken. The challenge with Isolated Customizations is finding them since they don't appear on compare reports.
  • Configurations are not supposed to impact maintenance. You should be able to get current without touching configurations.
What do you think? How do you handle Customizations, Isolated Customizations, and Configurations? Let us know in the comments!

At JSMpros, we regularly teach a course called Configure, Don't Customize, with hands-on activities showing you how to apply dozens of Configuration and Isolation strategies. The table of contents is available online at