“But it does the same thing!” – taking the similar and making it different

The question is often asked by consumers “Why is X better than Y when they fundamentally do the same thing?” – be it a washing machine, a can of matt emulsion, a bicycle or even a piece of software. And this is true in PacSol’s case, we offer our own document management software products alongside (as a channel partner) other vendor applications. Yes at a very fundamental level they are based on the same principles (scan / capture / index / search / retain / secure / automate) but they all offer something different.

It is this difference that is the unique selling point of any item or ‘product’ and the reason why there is not just one homogenised version of everything on the market – imagine only having the choice of two cars – one in grey or a slightly darker shade of grey! My wife often asks why I need another guitar, “don’t they all just do the same thing?” – no, no, no….

The simplest form of explanation for this concept and what this means in real terms is to consider music.

In western society, certainly since the 16th century, all of us have been exposed to the chromatic scale – 12 evenly distributed pitches (notes) that make up the fundamentals of all music we hear and consume today.  Sometimes these 12 notes are defined into a diatonic scale (8 pitches out of the 12) which make up the major and minor keys often referred to. When you look at a piano, it becomes easy to see the ‘rigid’ definition of the system and the repeats (albeit an octave higher or lower) of those notes: 

C – D – E – F – G – A – B – C*

I chose the diatonic major scale of C on purpose as it’s just the white keys on a keyboard!

Yet here we are in the 21st century and the catalogue on Apple Music alone quotes an availability of 50 million tracks which is not an exhaustive list of all the unique musical compositions created. But this is where music as an analogy makes it much easier to understand the more complex differences within an application or software suite that seemingly does the same thing.

We all no doubt have our favourite songs, film scores, classic compositions and they may be similar but are undoubtedly different choices to the person sitting right next to you. If you sit and compare those favourites between yourselves, no doubt based on the 12 chromatic pitches, you’ll see the rich diversity within those compositions. The same but different.

Obviously it is more complicated, of those 50 million tracks quoted, a percentage of those will be cover songs, re-workings or re-recordings of the same composition. Remember however, a cover or re-work can sound unique even though it is based on something already created. And of the more original compositions within that 50 million, I am sure there are a fair few that some might claim ‘borrow heavily’ from previous compositions – I am sure most of us have all heard of at least one copyright case in the courts disputing the ‘originality’ of a song. Conversely there are compositions within that catalogue that try to do something more with the sum of its parts – micro-tonality, dissonance, modes, harmony, rhythm, instrumentation, key shifts, atonality…

And so it is with document management software. Fundamentally it is built on the same principles and uses the same basic functions, however, it is the creativity of the developer and/or the application of those fundamental principles in a unique way to address a particular functional aspect that makes these pieces of software different.

PacSol FastScan, Kofax Capture, DocuWare and Invu can all interface with a scanner and process (capture) an A4 paper invoice into a digital image for storage within a document management platform BUT, what happens in the creation of that image, the way it can be stored, the automation processing that can be applied, the availability of extract functions, the integration with preceding or post processes etc make each product different.

Back to the analogy and cover versions, taking the sum of something else and making it better – I often cite Jimi Hendrix’s version of “All Along the Watchtower” (a cover of Bob Dylan’s original 1967 composition) that is rightly (in my opinion) not only more famous but considerably better. An upgrade or re-working of an already established ‘product’ to bring greater benefits. Not changing the fundamentals but improving the presentation, flow and elements for a better experience. Of course, sometimes it does work in reverse – William Shatner’s cover of “Rocket Man” being comparable to Microsoft’s Windows 8 release (we have not forgotten Microsoft!!!) after Windows 7.

Instruments of light

Much like a musical director for a show or music supervisor on film, selecting the right song and potentially the right version of that song to fit the requirement of the scene / act is a fundamental necessity to avoid failure – you only have to view  Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction”, Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge” or Han Zimmer’s homages to other famous Bond compositions in “No Time to Die” to understand the critical choice of the perfect fit.

And this is precisely what PacSol does within their consultancy. Looking at the requirements to find the most appropriate product and version from the available portfolio to best suit the situation. Matching just the right solution having considered the seemingly similar to ensure a successful, beneficial implementation!


Toby Gilbertson Customer Services Manager

Toby Gilbertson, Customer Services Manager. November 2021.


#PacSolUK #DocumentManagement #ECM #EnterpriseContentManagement #BusinessProcessAutomation #BPMS #Music #IBM #DocuWare #Invu #Kofax #ImageView

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