When to hire a custom software development company.
While commercial software designed for the masses is sufficient for some businesses with limited needs, it isn’t for everyone. Here are three signs that investing in custom software development is the right choice for your business.
Your company has unique or specialized needs
If there are a lot of specialized tasks you need to perform on a daily basis, regular off-the-shelf software probably won’t cut it. Whether it’s a unique way of tracking inventory, employee scheduling or managing your marketing campaign, a custom software platform will contour to your individual needs. This should make it easier for team members to learn and use the software. You will also have only the features you need without a bunch of unnecessary extra features you’re never going to use.
Your current software is lacking in efficiency
When software has inadequate performance and obvious limitations, this can be a big detriment. In some cases, you may be forced to get upgrades, which is costly and can slow down productivity. Having tailor-made software is ideal because it gives you considerably more control and flexibility. It can grow along with your business and should increase efficiency so you can get the most from your resources.
You need custom reporting
Analytics are incredibly important for fine-tuning operations and not repeating the same mistakes. The problem with some commercial software products is that they lack an effective analytics system. A common problem with standard reporting features is that they can be difficult to understand and may not cover the specific areas you need. However, investing in custom software development should provide you with intuitive reporting features to help your business as a whole and ultimately boost profits.
Custom software vs. out-of-the-box software
Off-the-shelf software, sometimes called "canned programs," can sometimes be an ideal way to solve your needs at minimal cost. Because developers can produce a software product once and then sell hundreds, thousands or even millions of copies, they can price their products lower than similar software could be developed for a single client. However, a common problem faced by many companies is that an off-the-shelf solution lacks some of the functionality that is needed to streamline operations, connect team members or eliminate data silos.
For many, the answer is a hybrid solution. Basic off-the-shelf software can be customized to provide the missing functionality. This practice has become increasingly common over the past decade; typically, the main software is a canned program, but extensions are added or customizations are performed to fill in the missing pieces.
As mentioned earlier, off-the-shelf software is designed for the masses with a one size fits all approach. Custom software is designed for your company with highly individualized features. It’s tailored to meet your specific needs and contains the exact features necessary to efficiently run your business. If you only want the basics and don’t mind a bunch of extra features you may not use, then off-the-shelf software should work. However, if you want a platform that contours specifically to your business without unnecessary features, then you’re better off building custom software.
When it comes to the length of time that it takes for a platform to be fully implemented, an off-the-shelf product tends to be quicker than a customized solution. Because it’s already been developed, you can simply install commercial software and with only a bit of setup, it will be ready to use. On the other hand, tailor-made software will take time to be developed and the kinks to be worked out.
Another benefit of a custom platform is that it can be tweaked as your business grows over time. You can start with the minimal requirements and add on as needed to meet growing demand. Off-the-shelf software has more limitations in this respect, and you may end up being forced to buy a new product prematurely if your needs suddenly change.
More and more businesses are choosing to develop their own mobile apps
to expand their reach, enhancing the customer experience. When it comes to types of apps, your two primary choices are web apps and native mobile apps.
Differences Between Web Application and Mobile Application Development
The most fundamental difference is that web apps are web-based applications that can be accessed by any mobile devices and native mobile apps are specifically designed for specific mobile devices. Because web apps are accessed through a web browser, they don’t have to be downloaded onto a mobile device. Native mobile apps must be directly installed onto a device such as an iPhone.
Accessibility and User Experience
If you want to make it as easy as possible for the largest number of users to access your business app, then a web app is the best choice. While native mobile apps can be run on different devices, they must usually be adapted to work on the latest devices and may not work on older devices like a web app. If your main emphasis is user experience, then a native mobile app is the way to go. Although it’s more troublesome to use on a variety of devices, users can access all of the features and it tends to be faster and more efficient.
Cost of Custom Software Development
When it comes to development, native mobile apps will end up costing more than web apps. However, you may encounter similar long-term maintenance costs with web apps because they are run on multiple platforms. That’s why you should consider your overall budget when making a choice.
Example of customizing existing software
To illustrate, suppose a company that manufactures asphalt shingles needs to upgrade their system. They find a basic off-the-shelf software that has most of the functionality they need. The company's policy is that it will not ship less than a full truckload, so when customers want a smaller quantity, they must send their own trucks to pick up the order. The company bases its shipping charges on the difference between the actual freight and the freight that the customer would have paid from the nearest competitor. In addition, if the customer picks up an order, they are given a pick-up allowance that is equal to the amount of freight that the company would have absorbed, i.e., the portion that was not charged to the customer. The basic software package could not handle such complex calculations for freight charges, but through customization, the company had all of the functionality it needed without having to alter a policy that had been in place for almost a century.
The above is just one example of how a hybrid solution can be used to maximize the efficiency of off-the-shelf software.