Custom software is software that is uniquely designed and developed for specific companies or organizations, that provides enhanced functionality than what is available with generic off-the-shelf software. This specific functionality is created to address the particular ways a company operates.
Examples of custom software development include software products for businesses such as:
- Ecommerce payment processor, shipping, vendor or other Application Programming Interface (API) integration
- Product and inventory management
- Website applications
- Customer management
- Employee management
- A field service equipment maintenance program for a manufacturer
- An online banking app designed for the unique requirements of the bank and its customers
This list is just an example, as custom software can be anything, its main purpose is to solve problems that a company is encountering that existing software cannot fix.
Complex custom software can be developed on an increasingly small scale, because of the use of rapid application development frameworks. This means that smaller companies, charities or even individuals are able to benefit from complex software based on pre-built building blocks which are then customized to suit.
Custom software development includes application customization and application modernization. Application customization refers to modifying commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software applications to support particular requirements. Application modernization plays a critical role in maintaining the viability of a business’s custom software to meet evolving user and market demands.
Why is custom software development important?
Custom software development is important because it helps businesses meet unique requirements at a cost competitive with purchasing, maintaining and modifying commercial software.
Software development is important because it helps businesses differentiate themselves and be more competitive. It can improve customer experiences, bring more innovative, feature-rich products to market faster, and make operations more efficient, safe and productive.
Some of the benefits of custom software include:
- Effectiveness: Custom software is much more effective at providing the specific, personalized functionality that your organization requires. As it is designed based on your business’s requirements.
- Efficiency: Custom software is purpose-built to support processes efficiently and productively, without the need to work around or adjust or sacrifice functionality by using commercial off-the-shelf applications.
- Scalability: Custom software can grow as an organization or business grows and changes. Software developers can assess future needs as part of your requirements gathering. These factors can then be incorporated into the application, rather than incurring costs by purchasing additional licenses or subscriptions of packaged applications.
- Lower integration costs: One of the primary considerations of commercial software is: will it work with existing and legacy applications? If the answer is no, organizations face a greater cost in getting commercial software to communicate and operate with their existing infrastructure. Custom software can be built to integrate with its intended environment.
- Profitability: It’s possible to make money with custom software development. Depending on the terms and conditions of the project, businesses that develop their own software may own the software and therefore be able to license or sell it to other organizations.
- Independence: The benefits of being free of a commercial software vendor enable an organizations to avoid price hikes for licensing and support — and getting stuck maintaining packaged software should the vendor go out of business or terminate a product.
Software development is also important because it is pervasive. Software has emerged as a key differentiator in many products.
The steps involved in custom software development projects include:
- The definition of specific software functional requirements are discussed in detail.
- Proposal - a detailed proposal is produced, based on the functional requirements.
- Prototype - a functional prototype is delivered for testing and feedback to fine tune the functionality and user interface elements of the software system.
- Delivery of a software system - at the end of software development, a “functionally complete” system is delivered, which requires end-user testing.
- System completed - software testing is complete, and the system is ready for deployment.
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