Over the course of my consulting experiences, I have learned to work with different platforms and products “the right way.” This means that when you are using a product (for example Microsoft Dynamics CRM), you are agreeing to use the product in the ways specified by the makers of the product. It’s like when you buy a car, there are parts that go with it and if you need to change them, you need to get them from the manufacturer. When you start modifying the car with custom parts, you lose your manufacturer’s warranty. Same thing with a phone, you jailbreak it, you don’t get support anymore. The reason behind that is very simple. When you make changes that are not prescribed by the maker of a product, it’s possible that you altered the way the product works (i.e. you may have broken it or it may break in the future), therefore the manufacturer can no longer support it because it doesn’t know if it still works as designed.
When it comes to software and especially in the case of CRM, it is very important not to break that contract. There are a few things to consider if you do and they are very well documented:
- Unsupported changes are dangerous by nature, you don’t know what the impact is on things that you are not supposed to have control over
- They will probably break in the future (after a patch or upgrade)
- They can bring tons of other issues (performance, testability, bugs…)
If you are buying a product that is integrated with Dynamics CRM (ISV solution), always ask this question to the vendor: “Is you product and/or integration built in a supported way by following all Microsoft customization guidelines and APIs”? See the table of what should be your reaction based on the answer below
|Answer||My2cents||What to do|
|No||That’s just bad. It will either stop working at some point or it will break something.||Run away!|
|I don’t know||If the vendor doesn’t know, it means he/she is not really aware of what the impact of unsupported customizations are. That sends a wrong message and represents a serious risk.||Run away or hire a technology expert to validate that all is supported.|
|Yes||Perfecto! The vendor knows what it means and understand the importance of supported customizations.||It’s a go! To protect yourself, make sure it’s mentioned in your purchase contract.|
As consultant and community contributor, I keep seeing a lot of web application and ISV providers that integrate with different CRM or other platforms by simply checking out how to do stuff online and customization the platform in unsupported ways to achieve their goal and sell their product. Keep in mind that working with a platform requires the due diligence of working with experts who know how to customize it. Taking shortcuts can seem like a great idea to quickly go to market but consequences can be bad and the result is often hiring experts to figure out what is wrong when they should have been brought in from the beginning.
It’s OK to use unsupported customization as long as you are aware of the risks and are willing to live with them.
You can read more on unsupported customization for MS Dynamics CRM on the links below.