Standards and Practices for SalesLogix Customization
Various technical, business, academic, scientific and other disciplines have established both formal and informal Standards and Practices. Standards and Practices might serve a variety of purposes – either directly for the consumers (ex. Accounting standards) or more commonly for the practitioners themselves and thus indirectly for the end consumers.
Software development and the related field of consultancy and software customization are disciplines where the establishment and use of Standards and Practices are at times hotly debated. The debates range from what the value of Standards and Practices might even be to the scope and depth of the Standards and Practices themselves, and finally to the extent to which the Standards and Practices must be adhered to. At times, the debate can seem like a technology holy war of sorts reminiscent of the MAC vs. MS-Windows debates of the 80’s and 90’s.
The Benefits of Standards and Practices for SalesLogix Customizations
OK, so the establishment and enforcement of Standards and Practices can be controversial – but let’s talk about the benefits.
One the key thing that standards and practices accomplish is consistency – consistency throughout the overall solution regardless of how many people have contributed to the solution. Note that consistency is not in and of itself the objective, rather consistency provides several benefits including:
Reduce scale-up time for new staff
Reduce change-request costs to modify pre-existing solutions
Increase quality and reduced probability of errors
Increase quality (due to consistency) of user experience
Increase customer satisfaction and project success
Another key benefit of standards and practices is the ability for more experienced developer consultants to share their knowledge with others. Standards and Practices often contain guidance for more productive ways to solve various types of challenges within the software platform – in our case SalesLogix.
Additional benefits then are:
Reduce costs (no reinventing the wheel)
Better solution fit to platform
Decrease scale up time for developer consultants new to the SalesLogix platform
Categories of Standards and Practices for SalesLogix Customizations
The Standards and Practices for SalesLogix customizations can be categorized as follows:
Source Code Structure and Design Patterns
Environmental Configuration The choice of software development tools, operating system, source-code control solution, and even the specific way any of the previously mentioned items are installed and configured.
Naming Conventions There are a wide variety of work products that comprise any given piece of software or customization, and having naming conventions can aid the developer in adhering to unique naming requirements, organizing the work items for later identification, or both. Common examples that might apply to SalesLogix customizations are work products like Database Tables and Field, Page and Form names, Menu item names, etc.
Design Strategies Design strategies can be descriptions, or even prescriptions, for how to go about creating solution designs in a manner consistent with and best supported by the toolset at hand, in our case the SalesLogix application framework and related toolsets. When developing software based solutions there are often a number of possible ways to create a solution, but there might be some ways that fit more cleanly and naturally into the software platform you are using than others. Lessons learned by others about better or worse approaches can be shared as part of design strategies so that not everyone has to learn by trial and error.
User Interface (UI) Patterns The user interface for any software is one of the most important aspects of any software program, second only to the actually ability of the software to accomplish its purported tasks.
When customizing and extended software, it is critical that key UI features be implemented in the customizations and that the various UI features be implemented in a consistent manner. The customizations and extensions should appear seamlessly with the features of the base software product offering, not unlike (professional) additions to an office building or home. User Interface standards and practices might even take the form of checklists to avoid oversights and aid in ensuring consistency.
Source Code Structure and Design Patterns This area of standards and practices for consulting customizations has some overlap with general software design standards and practices (OO design patterns, etc.) but would also include SalesLogix specific guidance on how to approach and implement various parts of the solution that are implemented using code snippets, external code assemblies, etc.
Coming soon… Standards and Practices for SalesLogix Customizations The Sage SalesLogix Professional Services group is working on the first draft of the Standards and Practices for SalesLogix Customizations. When available a document will be posted to this SalesLogix community site. We welcome and appreciate ideas and/or content to contribute, please forward to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com