What Is Custom Software Development? Is Custom Software Necessary for My Business?

When organisations require applications with distinctive features and functionality, they often seek software developers to construct custom solutions. Custom software is designed to meet users’ particular needs more effectively than standard off-the-shelf packages.

Although the concept of software customised for your business is enticing, custom software development might not be appropriate for all. The process can be costly and lengthy, and articulating the full range of desired functionalities can be difficult.

We’ll examine custom software in comparison to off-the-shelf solutions and assist in deciding whether custom software development is a suitable path for your business.

Custom Software vs. Off-the-Shelf Software

Standard software applications are accessible for a multitude of computing, business, productivity, and communication needs.

Typically, these packages offer:

  1. Ease of Use: Off-the-shelf applications cater to broad audiences with essentially similar needs. Take Microsoft Word as an example; it’s a widely used word processing application loaded with features, functionalities, and customisation options beneficial for organisations of diverse sizes and types.
  2. Accessibility for Purchase or Download: Off-the-shelf software is often ready for purchase in stores, but frequently it’s also downloadable from the manufacturers’ websites or available via cloud subscription.
  3. Broad Availability: You can locate off-the-shelf software for any platform your business operates on, including Windows PCs, Macs, and Linux systems.
  4. Customisation: Well-known commercial software, like Microsoft Office applications, offers some level of customisation to better suit your team’s needs.

Yet, with the wide range of off-the-shelf software available, certain organisations may need unique capabilities that general software doesn’t offer. In such instances, they might opt for a custom software development company. Custom software provides:

  1. Unique Tailoring of Features and Functions: Custom software is developed specifically for the organisation that commissions it. For instance, if a developer creates software for JPMorgan Chase, it would be exclusively used by the bank or a particular department. This software could, for example, examine the bank’s customer database, integrate market data, and align with customer account goals to formulate suggestions for JPMorgan’s investment advisors.
  2. Business-Specific Solutions: The software is engineered to align with the commissioning company’s infrastructure, branding, and implementation requirements, ensuring exclusivity and no access for other organisations.

Is custom software necessary for my business?

Deciding to commission a custom software application https://www.sombrainc.com/blog/application-development-outsourcing is a significant, resource-intensive decision that shouldn’t be made lightly. Look for these indicators that suggest a custom software application might be beneficial.

  • Your employees are burdened by inefficient processes and makeshift solutions.

If your employees are constantly bogged down by cumbersome paperwork or resort to multiple makeshift solutions daily, it might be time to consider a custom software solution. Such inefficiencies can hinder productivity and negatively affect morale.
Signs that your current system is inadequate include the following:

  1. Cumbersome procedures: excessive paperwork, bureaucratic hurdles, and multiple steps for routine tasks suggest a need for improvement. If your existing technological solutions are not streamlining these processes, a change is necessary.
  2. Frequent makeshift solutions: The need for regular workarounds, especially when using legacy or off-the-shelf software, indicates a problem. For instance, if employees need to transfer data between software applications manually or go to great lengths to make reports usable, custom software could be a viable solution.
  • Your business heavily relies on an Excel specialist to interpret the data.

Small businesses often spend a lot of time and effort tweaking financial, customer, and sales data in spreadsheets. Custom software can directly interface with your data sources, like point-of-sale systems, to produce efficient and insightful reports and charts. This streamlining lets businesses focus on decision-making based on the data rather than spending time formatting it.

  • Your field sales team and remote employees require secure data access.

Custom software can provide your sales force or other mobile employees with secure access to sensitive company information that might be risky to share through platforms like Slack or other cloud-based collaboration tools. A custom-developed secure and encrypted platform ensures that remote employees see only the necessary information while keeping the rest of your data protected from breaches.

  • Your company utilises unique, proprietary processes

If your business operates in a new industry and offers innovative products, processes, or services, standard off-the-shelf solutions might not suffice. Or, your organisation might be pioneering new business methods. For example, Uber had to develop custom software for its unique app-based ride-sharing service, a novel approach compared to traditional taxi services.

  • Your company is experiencing growth

Developing a custom software application can help maintain or enhance customer retention and satisfaction, minimise errors, and increase sales as your business expands. The flexibility of a custom solution allows for scalability, accommodating more users, locations, and functionalities as required.

Sudeep Bhatnagar
Co-founder & Director of Business
Sudeep Bhatnagar

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