As your company grows, you’ll eventually reach a point when off-the-shelf (OTS) software just doesn’t cut it. And that’s okay. While OTS software packages are often cheaper, they typically lack the customizable functionalities of custom business software. Because OTS software is designed to accommodate a wide range of customers, there is always a chance that it lacks the precise features that your business needs.
Let’s examine the pros and cons of building custom business software solutions. Then, we’ll identify the best tips and tricks to choosing the perfect custom business software solution.
Pros and Cons of Customized Software Development
Let’s start with the pros of using standard OTS software
- Lower Cost: OTS software is good for the early years of a business when you need to run lean.
- Time to Deliver: Using OTS software is quick to install, implement, and get running for your company.
- ‘Best-of-Class’ Process Functionality: OTS software is usually designed to support industry best practices and can potentially improve your process efficiencies.
OTS software is affordable and easy to implement. But what about the pros of developing customized business software?
- Custom Built Software: Simply put, it’s designed exactly for your needs and can integrate with your internal processes and existing software/hardware. Custom solutions can build on current systems to deliver a stronger user experience.
- Long-Term Cost Benefit: Although the initial investment can be more expensive, there are large potential savings with more efficient processes, decreased software fees, and faster future implementation times.
- Ease of Modification: Custom software can be upgraded and changed easily. Any improvements will be focused on process flows that are specific to your company. Changes are designed to advance and adapt your efficiency and effectiveness.
- Automate: Customized software can automate many parts of a business to a higher level than any OTS software. This translates to saved cost over time.
- Flexibility and Support: Customized software can grow as your company grows and adapt with other systems. They can develop as your business does because you’re working directly with developers.
How to Choose and Implement a Custom Software Solution
Now that we know more of the intricacies and possibilities of OTS versus custom software, let’s delve into how your company should choose your development partner and how to implement your new customized software solution.
While courting a software developer, follow these steps before signing any contract. You’ll want to make sure they are capable of delivering your project requirements while also being a good culture fit!
Step 1: Determine the Scope of the Project
This is important for your own organizational purposes and when selecting a developer. You’ll want to outline project requirements to understand budget, desired deliverables, and goals. Then, your software developer can create a technical requirement document that can be used in the software development process.
Step 2: Align with the Developer
Ensure that the project scope has been agreed upon and communicated. Your potential developer should run through design factors such as interface and user experience. They should also discuss how the software will integrate with your business’s current systems.
Discuss technical factors such as protocols, API, data structures, software merging, data consolidation, data migration, user authentication, and functionality. Clarify how communication will be upheld throughout the process and identify a clear timeframe.
Step 3: Confirm the Big Picture
You’ll want to discuss project scope creep to ensure that factors such as budget, timeline, and development changes are accounted for. Although changes are natural to any project, scope creep can ruin a project if left unchecked.
Determine a system that holds your team and the developer accountable for changes after the project commences. Create change control procedures that designate who reviews and approves changes. It’s wise to create a guideline document that considers your budget, timeline, and a system for approving or denying scope changes.
Software Solutions Customized for Your Business
If a software developer can’t account for those three steps, you should find a new development partner. You’ll want to work with a company that can develop web-based or mobile-based processes and can handle any type of project, from the simple to the complex.
Any custom business software solution provider should ask questions to truly understand your company and your goals for the software. There should be forward-thinking, including going beyond problems you’re currently facing and aiming to grow beyond them at scale.
They should ask questions that identify your:
-Overall business goals
-Current software obstacles you’re facing
-Which operations processes are inefficient and wasting your time
-What’s working well and what would you like to spend more time on
Work with a developer that doesn’t merely see themselves as a gun for hire. They should be a software developer with a brain built for strategy, plus a heart made for empathy and understanding your business needs. With that, good luck on your software development journey! This is an opportunity for renewed efficiency, effectiveness, and long-term success in 2020 and beyond.
For more information about custom business software solutions, contact Trinity Integrated Solutions today.