“If only our software did this one thing!” That’s a common frustration with business owners and their team when working with off-the-shelf software. Pre-built software serves a great need -- it’s ready to go and it’s cheap. However, as businesses grow, they quickly see the need to have a more customized solution. That’s where custom software comes in. What may seem like a significant expense at first quickly turns into an investment, as your software starts to make the whole operation run more efficiently. So, what are we talking about here with this ‘Custom Software’?
Custom Software is any piece of software created by a software developer to meet one or more needs of a business. Since it’s not a generic solution, its whole purpose is to address one area, or category, of the business.
Advantages of Custom Software versus Off-the-Shelf Programs
Going with a custom engineered software solution has two distinct advantages:
- It adapts to the business and continues to evolve with the business. Off-the-shelf software essentially requires the business to adapt to the software. This is the biggest complaint we get from our clients before getting started on their solutions.
- The business owns the intellectual property, which is an asset on the good old balance sheet. The intellectual property of off-the-shelf software is owned by the company that created it.
Because of these advantages, businesses often move to a custom solution when existing solutions don't meet their needs. At Ping! Development, we had a client create their own solution because existing industry software did not fit their niche market's needs. They needed customized business logic. Now, because they own the intellectual property on the software we created, they're going to be able to license this to others in their industry and create a new revenue stream.
You may see the need to go custom when you have to cobble together three or more platforms to handle different aspects of your business, or when your search for a new solution yields no results that provide the functionality you need.
Finally, some businesses don’t wait until they encounter challenges with off-the-shelf solutions. Startups who are doing things differently, disrupting an industry, will see the need for custom software right out of the chute.
Read More: Software Development: What's Coming in 2019
Risks of custom business software
Knowing the risks of developing a custom software solution will help you be prepared and mitigate those risks. While the advantages are great, there are a few things to consider or be ready for, including:
- Expense: Make sure you know up front what the costs and potential overruns are. A professional developer will keep you updated and give you a detailed plan/proposal.
- Project Management: Custom software projects require disciplined project management, or they risk both cost and time overruns. These can, in turn, cause problems within the business or push off key benefits.
- Technology: The software will be built upon a software technology ‘stack’. The components of this stack need to be current and maintained regularly in order protect against outages, laggy performance, and future upgrades.
- Management: Your managers and users will need to be trained on the software. With off-the-shelf software, there may already be familiarity. But with a custom solution, you’ll need to make sure you maximize the advantages by training your team on how to use it. As you venture out to create your custom solution, make sure key people are in on the plan and get their input.
- Regulatory Requirements: Make sure your development team is on top of the latest regulations, especially when it comes to GDPR (what is GDPR?), healthcare, and the financial sector.
Working with a reputable, experienced software developer (like Ping! Development) will help you avoid mistakes, keep costs down, and ensure that you’re getting a solution that improves the performance of your business.
How to Get Your Project Started
Ready to talk custom software for your business? Contact us, and we’ll help you determine how your business may benefit from a custom software package. Then, we can put together a proposal, a budget, and timeline to get this going for your company.