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To Build or Buy? Choosing Custom Software Development

What is custom software development?

Custom software development is the method of designing or building software for a specific organization or set of users. Also called tailor-made software or bespoke software, this type of development is an alternative to off-the-shelf software.

Custom software is designed to meet specific or defined needs. Examples of custom software development are banking apps or even programs like Uber and Netflix. This software helps companies achieve their unique business objectives in a way that off-the-shelf software cannot.

On the other hand, off-the-shelf software is made to meet more general requirements. Examples of this type of software are word processors (like Microsoft Word or Google docs), development environments (like Sybase or Visual Basics), or various CRM tools. Typically, this type of software suits broader or more standardized needs.

Why is custom software development important, and who needs it?

Custom software development is an important process for several reasons. Many types of businesses need software that satisfies their particular needs. These needs can relate to a specific kind of customer experience or even the workflow within a company.

Several companies need custom software development. Some of the tell-tale signs of requiring a custom build are situations where you are using a vast software stack to meet your workflow. Or worse if lots of your processes, like data analysis, are being done in an outdated methodology. In a similar vein, if your software doesn’t allow you to take advantage of automation, it could be costing your resources and revenue.

Custom software is an excellent choice if you have specific compliance obligations. Additionally, custom software development might be your safest option if data or financial security is high on your company’s agenda.

Build or Buy: Ask yourself these questions if you’re not sure

Q: What are your business needs?
This question is fundamental. Off-the-shelf solutions can get you some of the way. However, for many businesses, this will be a compromise. Figure out the exact processes you’ll need from your software before deciding. You need to understand your business requirements and know how custom software development could impact them.

Q: Will this software be future-proof?
Technology moves fast. An investment in custom software needs to pay for itself over several years. Will your solution have the connectivity and flexibility to be relevant in five years? How about ten years?

Q: How does custom software fit within your strategy?
Companies need to consider how building custom software fits their long-term strategy. Will it give you a competitive advantage? Can you license the software to similar companies to generate revenue? Will it help you expand or help delight your clients? What is the long term value of having software that is totally flexible and can meet your ever-growing needs?

Q: Can it integrate with legacy systems and data?
Any custom build needs to connect with your previous systems and any data you already have. Fortunately, this is something that custom software can do far better than its off-the-shelf alternatives.

Q: Do we have time?
Custom software takes time to build. In certain situations, it can also cause downtime or produce a learning curve. You can avoid these situations with proper business continuity planning, but it’s something to consider.

Q: What are the costs?
Whether you choose to build or buy, you’ll need to work out your budget. Remember, in-house software still costs time and money to maintain. Other things you’ll need to consider are training, whether your software solution will require IT support, and the costs to add new features or updates at a later date.

What type of solutions can you develop with custom software development?

The only limit to custom software development solutions lies within your imagination. Custom software can be created for an organization or industry of whatever size. Typical developments can range from:

  • A special data processing system that focuses on various data and its representation is important for your business.
  • A reservation system in a privately-owned healthcare chain of ambulances where very specific services are provided.
  • A multi-platform information system for an academic environment with different fields of research, assets, and hierarchy.
  • A ticket portal for a family amusement park with smart integration to report problems and defects in order to abide with safe protocols.

Startups benefit from custom software because of its ability to offer flexibility and scale. While more established businesses can also use custom software development to serve their current markets or press home a competitive advantage.

Custom software development gives innovative businesses access to the tools they need to get to the next level. Any problems or inefficiencies can be targeted and eliminated by good software planning. Additionally, custom software can use cutting-edge tools like AI or automation to help organizations achieve their goals.

Can you benefit from custom software development?

Custom software development offers businesses significant benefits. One of its biggest perks is that it enables enterprises to achieve their specific goals in a way that most commercial off-the-shelf software cannot.

All organizations can benefit from an efficiency boost. Software can be built to perfectly service your workflow without any tinkering or other alterations. This goal is precisely why many business owners choose a custom build.

Another consideration for business owners is scalability. As businesses grow and evolve, software should grow with them. Instead of purchasing new licenses or subscriptions for off-the-shelf software, hoping that it will help you achieve your aims, you can develop custom software to adapt to change.

Finally, one of the more significant advantages of custom-built software is lower integration costs. Custom software is built to be deployed into your business’s existing infrastructure. Instead of spending time and money trying to get new software to speak to your existing stack, you can easily integrate custom software.

For many organizations, off-the-shelf software is close enough. However, for competitive industries, and with a thirst for growth, a custom build can offer the sort of differentiation they can use to their advantage. Boosting efficiency can help ramp up revenue if you build a system that accounts for your unique workflow, customers, and business model.

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