What is custom software?
Custom software is software that is uniquely designed and developed (personalized), for a specific business or organization, that provides improved functionality over what is available with off-the-shelf software.
This improved specific functionality is created to address the particular way a business operates and is one of the ways custom software is different from software packages developed for the mass market, such as commercial off-the-shelf software, or open-source software.
Because custom software is developed for a single customer it can be designed with that customer’s particular preferences or requirements in terms of features and functionality, optimized for performance and have improved security, which is not the case with commercial off-the-shelf software.
Custom software development ensures that your software will be able to handle your business processes effectively and efficiently.
Customized software can have all of the features and functionality that you would like. This makes personalized software the ideal choice for businesses of all sizes.
When you have software that is designed to work exactly the way you would like, it helps to ensure your business is working as efficiently as possible.
Companies often have custom software developed for critical business functions, including eCommerce, shipping and order tracking, inventory management, customer management, payment processing, human resource management, and other functions, to improve or fill the gaps in existing software packages.
What are examples of customized software?
Examples of custom software development include software products for businesses such as:
- Product and inventory management
- Ecommerce 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
- Ecommerce payment processor, shipping, vendor or other Application Programming Interface (API) integration
Custom software can be built for a wide variety of purposes, its main purpose is to solve problems for a company that existing software cannot fix.
Custom software development includes application customization and application modernization.
Application customization refers to modifying software applications to support particular requirements.
Application modernization plays a critical role in maintaining the viability of a business’s 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.
Custom software can improve customer experiences, bring innovative, feature-rich products to market faster, and make operations more efficient, safe and productive.
Custom software development helps businesses differentiate themselves and be more competitive. Custom software development is often the unique value proposition of many products and services.
How much does custom software development cost?
The development of custom software may seem more expensive at the start, compared to off-the-shelf software, but it proves to be a smart investment in the long run.
The higher initial cost of custom software development can be insignificant for businesses because custom software provides a boost in efficiency and even small efficiency increases can result in large savings in labor cost and resources usage.
Because of the increased efficiency and functionality of custom software, it often turns out to be the less expensive option.
With custom software there’s no need to purchase licenses and pay for subscriptions or features you will probably never use.
In most cases, custom software will have greater long-term cost savings than paying a subscription for third-party software. It’s important to evaluate your own software requirements and determine what you would be sacrificing in terms of functionality, efficiency or ease-of-use by using an off-the-shelf software solution.
Although off-the-shelf software can be used out of the box, in practice the off-the-shelf software must be modified and integrated with existing business software systems to achieve the needs of the business and even then many gaps in functionality remain.
In many cases, off-the-shelf software requires customization to correctly support business operations. The cost and delay of off-the-shelf customization can add up to more than the expense of developing custom software from the start.
Cost is not the only consideration in the decision to have custom software developed, as the requirements for a custom software project often includes the business owning the source code, to secure the possibility of future improvement or modifications to the installed system to handle changing requirements.
When dealing with off-the-shelf software solutions, your business is at the mercy of the software companies selling generic software. So when they stop supporting the software (which happens often), your business will be in the tough position of suddenly needing to pay for and install the latest version and hoping that they haven’t dropped any of the features or functionality that you rely on to run your business. This sudden expense can be damaging for your business.
When you have custom software developed, your software always works they way you would like and is maintained for as long as you require.
Improved Software Support Most of the time custom software development will include some form of a continuous support package, provided by the company that developed the software. This type of software support provides better problem solving than any support provided by off-the-shelf software.
Response and turnaround time for custom software support is streamlined and it’s typically an easy process to get your issue resolved.
How is Custom Software Developed
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.
- Software System completed - software testing is complete, and the system is ready for deployment.
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, companies are able to benefit from fast development and delivery of high quality software with a relatively low investment.
Custom software can also be developed in an iterative processes, with each step building and improving upon the previous step, which helps to discover and mitigate integration and architectural risks earlier in the project, including those which were not mentioned in the original requirement specifications.
Custom software plays a key part in your organization’s growth and efficiency. Business operations can be complex and every organization has unique needs and problems to be solved. The numerous advantages of custom software development include increased productivity, long term cost savings, freedom and independence.
Contact us to learn more about custom software development and how it can help your business.