The IT startup explosion has offered companies countless tools to choose from. Some even have a free, lite version or at least a free trial. Off-the-shelf solutions are now available for every job imaginable, from accounting to document and email management.
So why would a company go through all the trouble of getting a custom software development when there are so many products already available? Is it vital, or can you just put together a working system like LEGO? The answer is – it depends.
It all starts with looking at your company to understand its precise needs, as well as possible downsides of the existing programs and tools that you already use, which custom development services would help you to fix.
Defining Your Business Needs
Start by listing all the core business needs of your company. Go through all the departments and the operational functions where you would use a software product to achieve some efficiency. For purpose of this evaluation, ignore the current way of doing things and think outside the box. You could use a checklist to give actual scores to each part of this large-scale analysis.
Next, think about the size of your company and future growth plans. Do you intend to open more offices or even create a franchise? Take a look at what your competitors are working on at the moment. What could you learn from them?
Finally, talk to the actual user of the future software. Take a survey among employees and evaluate their perception of the systems currently in place. What would they change? Do they have any input about unnecessary or repetitive steps? Armed with such information, you can go in depth at each of the following levels and decide if a custom software solution could take your company further.
An organization is at its most productive when there are no redundancies. Every time you enter the same information in each isolated system, you waste time and resources. If you have disconnected software platforms, you might be losing productivity without even knowing it.
Does your company use one system for billing, another one for sales and yet another for sales agents’ collaboration while your administrative staff feels overwhelmed? Do they all manually input the same data across different platforms? Then maybe it’s time you reconsider your approach. A unified program could free some time and streamline your workflows, not to mention that it can eliminate errors which can easily appear due to the boredom incurred by repetitive tasks.
Custom software development offers scalability
Could your existing systems adapt to a 50% growth in the next year? Would the payment plan you offer remain competitive in an economic downturn? Such flexibility would give you an edge over your competitors. Therefore, you should aim for a completely scalable approach.
If you have more than one operational unit, your systems should communicate with each other seamlessly, sharing sales and inventory details in real time. The best evaluation of this parameter is to ask yourself if you could develop a franchise system with your current technological setting. All the items that stop you from expanding the business to more locations should get on the requirements list for your custom software.
If you operate in a highly regulated industry, your systems should not only be effecient and fast, but also compliant with legal requirements. Since the laws change often, you should have the ability to make the necessary modifications on the fly.
In case of most off-the-shelf products, it is impossible to modify the code to keep up with the changes, which makes your company potentially exposed to penalties. If you don’t go for a fully customizable solution, at least pick a provider who offers extended support and can assist you with necessary changes as they come.
Are your systems fully functional, self-explanatory and user-friendly? Promoting work efficiency is all about providing the right information in the most likely place for users to find it. Processes should unfold easily in as little steps as possible.
One of the best approaches to identify your efficiency gaps is to evaluate how often you change your working routines. Does your organization continuously test new ways of achieving the same goals? Are you frequently changing your workflows? This might work for a new company, but as you aim to grow towards maturity, it becomes costly to be continuously experimenting.
Off-the-shelf solutions are built according to the most likely demands and architectures and are designed for the average estimated load. If your company has requirements which are consistently different from the general standards in your industry, a custom software development is the only choice.
You can boost the speed consistently with personalized software since it would feature the templates you use, thus saving countless hours of extra work. Also, a custom solution is always designed around existing workflows, so it can actually save even more time since the staff would require minimum training to get used to it.
Not only highly regulated sectors need custom software. If you work with personal data or if you are worried your database might be attacked by hackers, investing in a custom software development might be justified by the additional safety features it offers. A tailor-made solution is harder to attack, provided it incorporates advanced data security measures.
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