Choosing the most suitable software for your business can be difficult, especially when deciding between bespoke development and ready-made solutions.
Choosing between these two options can be a challenging task for any manager or leader striving for excellence.
The cost and effort invested in developing custom or premade software will have a lasting impact on your company.
Making a decision of this nature without proper consideration is not advisable. This blog post shall discuss the pros and cons of developing software specifically for a business. To start, it is crucial to clearly define and understand the consequences of implementing such a solution.
What does “custom software development” mean for companies in simple terms?
Custom software development refers to the creation, deployment and maintenance of software that is tailored to meet the specific needs of an audience. Unlike COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) software, which is produced, marketed and distributed by specialists and can be adapted for use in various markets, custom software is designed to meet specific requirements. Developers use their expertise to design custom software that is unique to the business.
What advantages does customized software offer?
Custom software development provides ample opportunities for customization and extraordinary capabilities, making it a viable solution if you choose the right partner. It is a versatile and low-maintenance option.
Alternatively, you can save time and money by opting for a ready-made solution.
Consider the pros and cons of both custom software and ready-made solutions before arriving at a final decision.
To begin with, let us briefly explore the reasons to develop software from the ground up.
Custom Software Development Offers Several Benefits for a Company.
Here are some of the key advantages of utilizing custom software.
1. Methodology that is Customized to Your Unique Requirements
When purchasing a product off-the-shelf, there is no guarantee that it was designed to meet the specific requirements of your business.
Custom software development helps to eliminate all potential compatibility issues by creating software tailored to your company’s requirements.
Custom software development presents opportunities to enhance internal processes, resulting in potential increases in business efficiency. There are numerous third-party companies that can assess your company’s operations and deliver customized automation solutions.
Ultimately, this will result in improved productivity on your end, which will have long-term financial benefits.
2. Improved Return on Investment
Starting a software development enterprise may seem expensive due to the many investment possibilities available. Even if you plan to develop and manage your software in-house, you will face comparable challenges.
Despite the potential risks involved, developing custom software has the potential to yield a positive return on investment. While significant investment in bespoke software development is necessary, the costs are rapidly recouped. Heavy investment in tailored software development solutions is only justifiable if the financial returns are substantial.
It is essential to take into account the licensing fees and any supplementary features that come with acquiring commercial software. Subscription-based solutions incur ongoing expenditures, while cloud-based alternatives may raise concerns about data security and privacy issues. Furthermore, off-the-shelf software may not be compatible with your current infrastructure.
3. Improved Software Security
The coding of custom software can integrate the security features necessary for your business.
Hackers frequently target commercially available software (COTS) and search for security vulnerabilities to gain access to your system.
Regular usage of the same software by your staff minimizes the likelihood of an outsider infiltrating your system.
4. Ability to Adapt
The application has the ability to scale its scope with little effort, allowing it to expand in accordance with your business’s changing needs.
In contrast, pre-built applications come with pre-determined functionalities that are challenging to alter. Generic software cannot be utilized until it has been tailored by a different company. However, with custom software, this is not a problem. You have access to a team that can meet all your needs and incorporate any requested alterations.
If outsourcing development to an external provider, it is crucial to include clauses for maintenance and scalability in the contract to accommodate potential future modifications. Conversely, if you decide to establish and manage an in-house IT team, this concern can be circumvented.
Your organization may employ a diverse range of resources. To ensure a smooth integration between tools, it may be essential to develop custom interfaces to facilitate data exchange between programs.
It can be challenging to find these functionalities with a commercially available tool. Custom software can offer this level of interoperability, but pre-made software packages may not always provide seamless integration with other applications.
Another benefit of custom software is that it is compact and encompasses all the necessary features for a business. In principle, off-the-shelf software may include numerous features if it is evaluated with a comprehensive set of criteria.
Like most individuals, you may not even use half of these choices.
Due to its simplicity, efficiency increases while expenses decrease. Consequently, your revenue will rise while costs drop.
7. Stay Ahead of Potential Issues
When a new version of their software is released, many large-scale companies stop updating and supporting earlier versions. Additionally, a company may go bankrupt, making it impossible to provide any assistance.
Sustaining a crucial component ensures there is no danger in operating your business on commercial off-the-shelf software. Custom software removes the necessity to address any possible problems.
Custom software can be updated as often as required, and it is always accessible.
8. Enhanced Software Assistance
The customer support offered by custom software development groups is better than that of pre-made software.
When collaborating with outsourcing partners, they usually provide continuous support to ensure that your system is always backed by a team of skilled experts. The same applies to establishing an in-house IT department.
In terms of resolving bugs and addressing issues, this is far superior to pre-made software support.
Contracts may include Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to guarantee a fixed response and resolution timeframe when using custom software development solutions.
You determine the assistance you receive, not the other way around.
9. Achieving Market Competitiveness
Implementing custom software can give you a competitive advantage. A system with various capabilities that your competitors do not have access to may be accessible, providing you with a distinct solution and an edge over them.
This solution may become the distinguishing feature of your business. Pre-made programs are frequently rigid, hence you may need to modify your company procedures to accommodate it. With custom software, you can concentrate specifically on the demands of your clients, resulting in heightened satisfaction, as well as new and returning business.
Drawbacks of Creating Custom Software for Companies
After considering the many advantages of creating custom software, let us now focus on the disadvantages.
1. The Main Cost of Developing Custom Software
Developing software from the ground up can be an expensive endeavour, with preliminary costs reaching up to $1,000. Costs can increase dramatically if an internal IT team is recruited.
For some businesses, the long-term benefits may outweigh the initial investment.
However, it is crucial to assess the return on investment of custom software prior to making a purchase.
2. Development Time
Both time and money are essential investments in the process of developing software.
It can take months or even years to design and implement custom software, while pre-made solutions can be used right away.
The company must invest a significant amount of time and effort in order to provide specifications to either their in-house or outsourced software development team.
Commercially available programmes have undergone extensive testing for both bugs and user-friendliness, allowing you to begin using them immediately.
An exception to this is software developed according to customer specifications.
It may take some time for the objectives to materialise in the form of an assessment of the custom software from the user’s viewpoint.
Working with an external partner or an in-house IT team to go through the various phases of software development can be a lengthy process.
3. Maintenance and Support
Regular maintenance of custom software should not be overlooked, as it is crucial. Typically, maintenance services include:
- Minor modifications have been made.
- Modifications made to fix bugs.
- Enhanced functionality based on identified issues.
- All other obligations agreed upon in the contract.
Selecting the right personnel for the maintenance team is crucial as software maintenance can be arduous and time-consuming. The extent and detail of maintenance processes for custom software can vary, depending on the type of software being maintained.
- Identifying and tracking issues
- Identifying and analyzing priorities
- Status updates on delivery and documentation
If the above description is precise, maintenance is a time-consuming process. Many developers, even those with vast experience, wrongly assume that maintenance is a cumbersome task.
In many instances, organizations that require maintenance personnel hire new programmers to fill these positions. While a junior developer may be able to address issues, it could be challenging since they may not fully understand the system’s value or purpose.
Bespoke Software Design Options
1. Establishing Clear Company Needs and Goals.
Prior to developing any software, app, or website, it is essential to define your business’s expectations and success criteria.
Project management will involve answering three straightforward questions.
- If this program is unnecessary for you, then why download it?
- What is your deadline for completion?
- What type of development processes do you wish to have implemented?
2. Assemble a Skilled Team of Experts.
Allowing employees to work continuously on their own does not save money.
The success of every bespoke software project largely depends on how well business processes and workflows are managed. Therefore, it is advisable to consider using:
- Internal software engineers
- Companies specializing in bespoke software development and showcasing impressive portfolios.
Outsourcing companies can deliver an end-to-end service, allowing businesses to create reliable software with the help of seasoned professionals. These companies are adept in creating custom software applications; you can rely on them.
On the other hand, it might require more time, and result in additional costs, to hire someone who has expertise in your industry and shares your company’s values. Nevertheless, this approach can yield a product that is tailored precisely to your business’s requirements.
3. Pursue a Feasible Objective
Bear in mind the significance of a practical approach to achieve realistic goals.
Therefore, it’s crucial to build a proficient team of experts to guide and direct your efforts.
It’s equally important to meticulously devise a business strategy, and keep the project on track by developing a plan to achieve milestone objectives.
At every stage of the process, it is crucial to seek input from actual users to ensure that progress is on course and to get their feedback. What’s more, budgets and schedules should be established appropriately.
4. Conduct Comprehensive Tests
To prevent glitches and malfunctions, rigorous testing should be a top priority from the beginning. There are different testing techniques, and testers must be meticulous in their approach to detect and track all bugs and their solutions.
Approach for Developing Custom Programs
Let’s now explore the steps required to develop a program that fits your precise requirements:
- In the era of rapid technological progress, brainstorming can be a valuable tool for generating unique and innovative ideas. It’s vital for all team members to participate in brainstorming and idea sessions. After carefully evaluating ideas, selecting a specific product concept can establish essential criteria and a clear roadmap for the development process.
- After completing the planning phase, the technical architecture of the product can be formulated. At this stage, the development team will collaborate with the technical team to exchange the business specifications. Designers are accountable for every phase of the project since its inception.
- The software development process is considered finished only when the development phase has concluded. At this stage, the business requirements and the System Requirements Specification (SRS) have already been established.
- Software Integration and Testing: Ensuring that a program operates seamlessly is vital for preventing bugs and unsuccessful products.
- After the development team has conducted thorough testing to ensure the software’s functionality, usability and stability, it’s time to launch it and make it accessible to the intended users.
- The final stage entails continuous monitoring of product adoption and development. Any identified issues are resolved based on customer feedback once they have been reported.
Common Methodologies for Developing Custom Software
1. Key Importance of Blockchain Technology
Data protection for users is critical, and blockchain technology provides a dependable approach to ensure it. It has the capacity to secure sensitive business and financial information. Its data security features have made it a favoured option in the banking and financial sectors.
As blockchain has a proven record of safeguarding user privacy, we can anticipate its use and significance to grow with time.
2. Fusion of Artificial Intelligence
A method that integrates Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (ML)
The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into modern technology infrastructures is becoming more and more prevalent. Businesses are leveraging machine learning capabilities to develop personalised user experiences. A prime example is the widespread adoption of AI-powered chatbots to aid customers.
3. Simply Put, Cloud Computing
Cloud computing has contributed to a significant growth in the software development industry. This includes the hardware, software platforms and code that drives applications.
Companies are utilising various cloud computing models to improve their development, testing, storage, analytics, and disaster recovery processes – this includes Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Software as a Service.
4. Virtual Reality Package
In the world of advanced technologies, some of the most promising ones are Mixed Reality (MR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Virtual Reality (VR).
Previously, due to their intricacy, these tools were exclusive to military usage. However, virtual reality games, holograms, and other advanced consumer technologies are now easily accessible to the public.
Custom Software Development Case Studies
1. Custom Applications and Software for McDonald’s
McDonald’s remains at the forefront of the market by creating a system that demands minimal training and can be used effectively by new workers instantly. They were the pioneers of using self-service kiosks across Canada, which increased their dependence on point-of-sale (POS) technology. (Source)
Achieving a more customer-centric approach is a frequently discussed idea, and McDonald’s latest self-service kiosk demonstrates practical commitment towards this. To fully realise this approach, however, requires determination and persistence.
2. UBER’s Custom Software Impacts the Ridesharing Market
Uber is a well-known ridesharing provider that operates in most major cities. The app is designed to enable easy interactions between riders and drivers, handled by an AI-powered dispatching system. Instead of relying on a conventional central dispatcher, modern ridesharing platforms have employed advanced technology to match drivers with riders, which has led to Uber’s control over 76% of the US ridesharing market (source).
Vital features of the technology:
- Structured navigation and directional aids for drivers
- availability of transportation either at present or in the near future
- Automatically calculated, consistent low fares for rides
3. Amazon’s Custom Web-Based Technology
For many years, Amazon has been an established entity in the online market, originally starting as an online bookseller before expanding its offerings to encompass a broad range of products, such as food and clothing. Amazon’s success in the market has been due to continuously delivering customers with their desired products, promptly and with exceptional customer service.
Through its technology, Amazon comprehends customers’ product preferences to simplify and secure online shopping. It is probable that returns can be managed automatically with minimal customer effort, thus there might be no need for contacting customer service.
Since securing its position as a leading figure in the e-commerce world, Amazon has broadened its offerings by providing consulting services to other businesses that want to benefit from its expertise in cloud computing, data management, and e-commerce. Meanwhile, Whole Foods Market, Inc., which initially gained eminence in the online grocery market, now possesses and manages brick-and-mortar stores under the name of Whole Foods Market.
Choosing Between Custom and Ready-made Programs
Following careful consideration of the advantages and disadvantages of the options available, the time has come to select a course of action.
Custom software investment is recommended when:
- If you require software that is extensively customized to meet your business’s requirements and provides a comparative benefit over rivals.
- The software is user-friendly, interoperable with other systems, and adaptable in the future.
- As you handle confidential data, security is a primary concern for you.
- Your long-term objectives involve maximizing productivity while reducing costs.
- Custom software is an ideal investment with a positive return on investment (ROI) due to the higher productivity and reduced need for labour, which can cover the development expenses.
- At this point, you can concentrate on designing software according to your preferences.
If you belong to one of the following groups, pre-built software is the preferred alternative:
- Investing in custom software is either cost-prohibitive or the return on investment is deemed to be inadequate.
- As you have no plans for expanding, your company is considered to be relatively small.
- There are no issues with integration or security.
- You have a very strict deadline to meet.
Developing custom software usually entails a substantial cost increase in comparison to acquiring a pre-built solution.
Custom software can be costly, which may render it unaffordable for numerous small enterprises. Nevertheless, medium and large-sized businesses may possess the necessary funds to cover such expenses.
Summary and Conclusion
It is crucial to identify your company’s requirements. Custom software can lead to rapid development, greater efficiency, and an improved user experience. If your enterprise necessitates a solution that caters to dynamic demands and is compatible with current infrastructure, then a tailored alternative may be more suitable. In case you want to hire expert developers to create a customised solution that aligns with your company’s objectives and culture, then Works can provide the required assistance. If you have any inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact us.