With any business, software application is crucial to performing day-to-day tasks. While many organizations rely on off-the-shelf software, some businesses might need additional features and tools to achieve the best performance possible. In this case, custom software development can help automate and streamline practices, thus saving a huge amount of time and cost while improving productivity.
The evolving business realm
In today’s world characterized by constant changes, there is a continuous need for organizations to change their business models to meet changing needs and preferences of customers. To adapt and thrive in a highly competitive environment, companies must focus on delivering innovation in terms of people, processes, and products or services. This can be done if organizations have the right systems and reliable experts in place.
As an aspiring entrepreneur, you have fresh ideas for your next startup project or simply want to add new features to improve customer experiences. You have in mind a concept of software application that is going to bring a new change in the business environment. The objective is clear and all the necessary things are ready, except one – the resources to build the software application.
Now, you are in search of a company or vendor where you can get help to build your brilliant ideas into a software application. At this point, you need to decide whether you want to build custom software or purchase a solution off shelf. Choosing between the two options can be a defining factor in the success of your project. While some requirements can fit well into off-the-shelf software, some others can only be met with a custom software solution.
What is custom software development?
According to IBM, custom software development is the process of designing, creating, deploying and maintaining software for a specific set of users, functions or organizations. Custom software and its development are also referred to as bespoke software. It is derived from old English with roots in the tailoring trade.
In essence, custom software is built in a very much the same method as any software would be made. However, different from commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS), custom software development aims at a narrowly defined set of requirements. For example, Microsoft Office is commercial software products and services that are designed to meet generalized needs of office productivity and website creation.
COTS is often used for more general and simpler processes, tailor-made software can do more complicated tasks. Custom software is designed to meet a specific set of needs, such as a field service equipment maintenance program for a manufacturer or an online banking app designed for the unique requirements of the bank and its customers. This means that the solution is made exclusively for in-house use, not resale.
Custom software development is often outsourced to a third-party vendor or, in some cases, handled by an in-house development team. The development process is typically iterative, with changes can always be added as more needs are identified. If you want targeted solutions that directly meet your business requirements, then investing in custom software is the answer.
Degrees of custom-built software
Legacy or fully custom software development
This type of solution is completely created from scratch, according to the company’s requirements and specifications.
Modern interface applications
Most modern organizations use this type of custom solution because it offers pre-developed libraries or development code. These can be utilized to decrease repeat code and better focus on developing code that caters to unique business needs.
Systems of custom software development
Large programming libraries, sometimes developed by other organizations, are being used to build an application.
Types of custom software development
Here are a few examples of most common tailor-made software that businesses can benefit from:
- Content management system (CMS)
- Customer relationship management (CRM) system
- Online store/ecommerce software
- Business process automation
- Enterprise resource planning (ERP)
- Operations Management Software
Steps to choose the right vendor
Each business has unique requirements, meaning there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to software development. Below, we share some key considerations to help you figure out which custom software vendor will be the best fit for your needs.
- Figure out your business requirements
According to FreePoint Technologies, this step requires you to sit down with the stakeholders – the frontline people who will be using the software every day. Listen to them and Make a detailed list of what kind of application they need, and what it would be nice to have. The solution should satisfy their demands while aligning with you business goals.
- Analyze software vendor’s portfolio
When checking a software provider’s background, observe their credentials and credibility to ensure that they have certifications and/or experience relevant to the solutions that you are going to implement. Take a look at the company’s portfolio and analyze their expertise areas and employee strength. Jennifer Walzer, CEO of BUMI in CIO article also suggested that you should and ask vendors for references in the industry. This way, you can gain real insights from customers.
- Interview the vendor candidates
FreePoint Technologies advised to conduct preliminary interviews with a list of three to five strong vendor candidates who will send you their detailed proposals. Invite them for an interview (could be formal or informal) where you can ask specific questions regarding their services.
- Ask for test-drive
Before committing to a custom software vendor, take a test-drive. Most software providers offer a free trial for clients to test features, benefits, and usability. During the trial, you should make sure the software contains the features you need, as well as the functionality.
- Negotiate before signing a contract
Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Discount or price reduction is not guaranteed, but other variables like training and payments are usually negotiable. Furthermore, you should also work with potential software providers to set a benchmark and create key performance indicators (KPIs) prior to signing any contracts.
Business leaders need to have an eye for details to see what kinds of software will allow them to serve customers in the most effective manner possible. Be it off-the-shelf, fully custom, or hybrid software solutions, the decision should be made by weighing the company’s needs, goals, and tasks in choosing a system. Are you ready to have your own custom software development? Don’t be shy, talk to us today!