What are the advantages of custom software?
In today’s business environment, the role of software continues to grow as companies look to establish lasting success.
When it comes to software for business operations, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. Although there maybe some ready-made software available, it probably will not fit seamlessly into your organization’s work flow.
Modifying some built-in features of off-the-shelf software to temporarily meet a small need can’t compare to a custom software solution that has been built specifically for your business.
Business operations can be complex and every organization has unique requirements and problems to solve, which is why custom software plays a key part in your organization’s growth and efficiency.
Software that is misaligned with your business needs can create problems and missed opportunities.
While off-the-shelf software can be a viable solution for some small business settings, companies often find themselves wishing for more from their technology. Custom software provides a number of benefits to these businesses.
Software that is developed exclusively for you ensures that your business activities and processes are properly addressed and automated according to your requirements.
The Advantages of customized software include:
- Boosts efficiency and productivity: Custom software is purpose-built to support business processes efficiently and productively, without the need to work around, sacrifice functionality or modify commercial of-the-shelf software.
By focusing on important features, you can ensure your custom software solution is designed to match the way your business works. With an intuitive user experience and simplified data entry, confusion and guesswork are removed as barriers to task completion.
By automating and streamlining the various steps in a complex workflow, processes that previously took days to complete can be completed in a fraction of the time, and the issues arising from human error are dramatically reduced.
Greater value: With increased efficiency comes greater value. Custom software costs are linked directly to that value. To start with, there is no ongoing cost of per seat licenses, which is commonly found in off-the shelf software products. Because custom software is tailored specifically to your business processes, redundancies and bottlenecks can be eliminated, which ultimately saves you time and money, and enables productivity that would otherwise be lost with the use of a less ideal system. While its upfront cost may equal or exceed a quality off-the shelf software system, a custom software solution helps lower costs in the long run.
You’re in control of development: With custom software, you can be involved in the development process from start to finish, ensuring the end result aligns with your specifications and business objectives. You’re able to track important milestones and provide input if changes or additions need to be implemented.
You know your business better than anyone; you need software that is designed to work according to your priorities. With custom software, you control the development of the software to make sure it does just that.
You only pay for what you need: By taking control of the software development and being involved in the development process, you don’t have to worry about being burdened with unnecessary features that add cost and complexity. You know what your software needs to do, and it can be designed to do exactly that. Custom software eliminates needless complexity and features you don’t need to include only the functionality you desire.
You own the software:
Owning the software enables you to be more flexible in your use of the software than what’s possible with off-the-shelf software.
Off-the-shelf software products typically work on a licensing basis: you purchase permission to use the software but you don’t own it. In contrast, it’s standard practice for a custom software developer to build your custom solution while giving you full controllable rights to the software. The custom software solution becomes an addition to your intellectual property and boosts your balance sheet.
An extra benefit of owning the software: you now have the opportunity to explore additional creative options such as marketing your custom software to other companies in the same or similar industry facing the very same challenges for which you have developed your unique software solution.
- You gain a competitive advantage: Along with increased flexibility, a custom software solution can deliver a considerable edge for your business by separating your organization’s offerings from others within the industry. For example, imagine providing your customers a dedicated portal with self-serve access to data, as well as other services not available from competitors.
There are many ways custom software can be leveraged to gain a competitive advantage.
- Custom software scales with your business: The growth of your business brings new requirements. Off-the-shelf software that seems to fit your needs today may not always scale. Off-the-shelf software won’t necessarily be able to accommodate the changes that come tomorrow as a result of your organization’s growth.
When you hire a software development company to design a custom solution, they can make sure it scales to support the growth of your business when required. As well as building the initial solution, a quality software development company will be able to maintain your software, making sure that it scales effectively. Allowing your business to grow without being limited or held back by your software.
Off-the-shelf software may be overly generic and expensive, and for many businesses, not a viable option. A custom software solution ensures your business doesn’t get stuck, unable to grow; as your business evolves, so too can your software, ensuring you are well prepared to meet the challenge.
Custom software is able to grow and adapt to your business processes as your business grows. Software developers can assess your future needs as part of your requirements gathering. These factors can then be built into your custom software application, rather than incurring costs by purchasing additional licenses or subscriptions of packaged applications.
You’re able to react more quickly: As your business grows, needs change and the ability to adapt your technology to these demands is crucial. When such a change or improvement is necessary, custom software –by design – allows for quick adjustments. You’re no longer at the mercy of the packaged off-the-shelf software companies, hoping that their roadmap and timeline for updates align with your needs and future plans. A custom software solution lets changes and tweaks be made on your schedule.
Freedom and independence: Being free from off-the-shelf software enables your business to avoid price increases for licensing and technical support — and getting stuck with unsupported off-the-shelf software in the event that the vendor stops supporting or decides to no longer provide updates for the software (which happens often).
You avoid getting stuck with obsolete software: Being tied to the update and maintenance schedule of the off-the-shelf software companies can have severe ramifications. Prepackaged software runs the risk of becoming outdated or worse, sunsetted due to factors that are beyond your control. When this happens, support begins to degrade and future software updates become fewer and further between, leaving companies scrambling to address the new risks imposed upon them.
With custom software, functionality can always be added to help your business keep pace with the changing demands of the industry.
- You get better support: One of the biggest advantages you get with custom software is better software support, maintenance and improvements. With a reliable and efficient technical support plan, you’ll have full access to a technical support team familiar with the development process of your application, giving you an efficient solution to any problem you may encounter.
With custom software there is no need to wait for an off-the-shelf software company to add that feature you require or know will make using the software easier. Unless that feature is able to be used by and marketed to the masses, there in no economical reason for the off-the-shelf software company to implement it.
If you think of ways to improve your own custom software, you can have the features and functionality developed now or when you’re ready.
Because a custom software solution is tailored to fit your environment and specifications, a more in depth analysis of your business is often necessary, providing the developer a better understanding of your business functions and requirements. This promotes collaboration. If a business issue develops, you have a partner to help you create the solution. Any items that crop up are easier to recognize and fix, thanks to the developer’s familiarity with your particular environment.
When opportunities present themselves, you’re able to address and capitalize on them much faster. The developer’s familiarity with your business will play a key role in your success.
- Easier software Integration: Off-the-shelf software can be limited in terms of integration options. With custom developed software, your system can integrate with internal as well as external software systems and applications. For example, connecting and communicating with supplier systems, eCommerce payment processing and shipping components.
System integration enables each piece to work together harmoniously, streamlining the code to eliminate redundancies. An integrated system enables users to interact with the various elements cohesively and intuitively, creating a more efficient workflow. Additionally, maintenance costs -both short-and long-term -are reduced, allowing more time to be spent with the software in completing tasks rather than finding and fixing bugs and other issues.
Integration is the key to speed in corporate information systems.
In most cases, commercial off-the-shelf software does not account for the need for such interconnection, and may not even be compatible with those other systems you have in place or are looking to add. This scenario adds complexity and overhead, ultimately requiring more work.
During the development of custom software, the developer will be able to accommodate the expertise levels of the users. Additionally, any changes in staffing or app usage can be addressed by the creation of extra modules or updates. This way your software can be adjusted based on the direction the business is taking. Technology grows quickly and is always evolving, therefore it’s in your best interest to choose custom software because it can be effectively integrated with the needs and direction of your business.
Having software components that are unable to communicate with each other is an inefficient use of resources. When separate parts of your system require data entry, detailed calculations, or other essential processes to be duplicated, employee productivity is sacrificed along with the business’s bottom line.
Lower integration costs : One of the primary considerations of using commercial off-the-shelf software is: will it work with existing and legacy software applications? If the answer is no, organizations face a greater cost of getting off-the-shelf software to communicate and operate with their existing systems. Custom software can be built to integrate with its intended environment
Compatibility: Most organizations have an architecture model in which the outputs generated by a particular process (software application or module) function as an input for another process. A smooth flow of information is vital while streamlining your business model. Using different “packaged” software for different processes can disrupt your data flow since a hybrid software infrastructure often has to depend upon third party gadgets and apps to facilitate the communication between varied processes and systems. Building a custom software environment can resolve many types of issues concerning the flow of information between successive processes.
Improved Software Security: Businesses have limited visibility into the risks introduced into their software supply chain by off-the-shelf software.
According to the United States Department of Homeland Security, software security is a serious risk of using off-the-shelf software. If the off-the-shelf software contains severe security vulnerabilities it can introduce significant risk into an organization’s software supply chain.
Software industry observers such as Gartner and the SANS Institute indicate that supply chain disruption poses a major threat. Gartner predicts that “enterprise IT supply chains will be targeted and compromised, forcing changes in the structure of the IT marketplace and how IT will be managed moving forward.
A major concern for many B2B and B2C companies is data access and security which affect many end-users in the market today.
Your business processes optimized: Your organization has its own business model and in-house processes. It’s counter-productive for organizations to change their processes to suit a particular software package or application. So, software should be designed and developed in a way that aligns with your business model and supports your organization’s unique in-house processes. Custom software development helps to optimize your business processes rather than change them.
Business processes change with time, and as market dynamics change, it becomes necessary to adapt to new processes and technologies in order to maintain your marketing stronghold. Customized software can be easily changed – New processes and technologies can be integrated into your existing software as and when marketing trends change, so you can keep ahead of your competitors.
Because the software is totally customized, you have the power to choose the most appropriate technologies to use when developing your customized application and make it work the way you want it to.
The fact that you are diligent enough to have software develop based on your particular business needs sends out a strong message that you value your in-house processes and take your business seriously. It emphasizes your commitment towards your business while streamlining your processes and your work flow so it will function smoothly and efficiently.
When you’re ready, contact us to learn more about custom software development and how it can help your business.