In almost any industry, individuals enjoy when there is an element of personalization for a product or service. Within information technology, that sentiment is no different. And to meet that desire, there is custom software development.
Customized solutions can be more efficient and flexible for your needs. This will affect your business positively in the long run. In spite of the high initial costs, custom software development is a long-term investment that almost always pays off in the end.
You’ll learn more about custom software development and how it can help your business in this piece.
What Is Custom Software Development?
Custom software development is the process of designing software applications that meet the specific needs of an individual or a company. Unlike commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software, custom options are usually targeting specific problems. They are also meant for in-house use, not resale.
An example of a COTS software would be software like Microsoft Office. In contrast, an app that records a patient’s documents and visits for a local clinic would be an example of custom software.
Bespoke software is another name for custom software. It is derived from old English with roots in the tailoring trade. Bespoke or custom software is built in very much the same way as any traditional software would be made.
But although the methodologies may be similar, in custom software development, there are often focused and unique efforts when it comes to application customization, modernization, or management.
To better understand this terminology, note the following definitions:
- application modernization – the practice of taking existing technology and upgrading or updating it to modern standards
- application customization – in reference to custom software development, the notion of modifying COTS applications towards individual needs
- application management – optimizing software to support tasks such as installing, updating, and other service desk functions related to maintenance
5 Advantages of Custom Software Development
Deciding whether or not you need custom software developed for your business can be rather difficult. Below are five ways that your business can benefit from investing in a customized solution.
1. Targeted Solutions
Probably the most important reason to invest in custom software development is to develop a product that addresses your exact needs. It is not unusual for businesses to choose an off-the-shelf software option just to realize that it is unsuitable for them.
Every business is unique and it is hard to find a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to software. Choosing to work with tailored products not only gives space to grow, but it also means you are serious about your company’s success.
2. Greater Scalability
As your business grows, so do your needs. Purchasing an off-the-shelf software solution will become a problem once it is not able to support your business or becomes too expensive to license.
Off-the-shelf solutions may be a better fit for small companies in their startup phase of the business cycle. When operations are not yet stable, the focus is on making the company viable.
Developing a solution that is able to grow and scale your business processes is a savvy choice. You don’t want your capacity for growth to be limited by mere software. If you can afford the investment, it will be worth it.
3. Software Integration
Using custom software development, you can integrate your new software with already existing software to refine business processes. COTS software may lead to errors and as a result, a loss in productivity.
Custom software mitigates the chance of integration issues and can easily fit within any business’s software ecosystem.
4. Hardware Costs
Licensing off-the-shelf software often means having to purchase additional hardware for it to run efficiently. This can sometimes lead to a pretty big bill at the end of the day.
With tailor-made software, current hardware capabilities are taken into consideration, helping you save money and avoid extra costs. Custom software is developed in a way that supports your business so you’re not forced to adapt to what’s available.
The development and integration of custom software should consider every aspect of your business in order to make implementing the software as seamless as possible.
5. Increased Reliability
When you are purchasing off-the-shelf software, you are dependent on the company that has developed it. The pricing, terms and conditions, and future of the business, are all out of your hands.
If that company suddenly goes bankrupt or stops updating the product, you will have a nerve-racking and limited time to find a new software provider.
With custom software, you can use it as long as you like and the way you like. Of course, there are maintenance costs to consider. But overall, you’ll have far less to worry about.
Custom Software vs. Off-the-Shelf: Side-by-Side Comparison
Not sure if custom software is right for you? Here, you’ll see a side-by-side comparison comparing the pros and cons of custom software versus off-the-shelf software.
While off-the-shelf software isn’t made to be unique, this makes it easier to get done. This is why it’s called off-the-shelf in the first place. When you see products on the shelves of your local store, you likely see several copies of the same product because they’re mass-produced at record speed.
Adding bells and whistles will almost always hike up costs, whether that’s extra pickles on your burger or a modification for custom software. For that reason, using COTS software will be decidedly budget-friendly.
Custom software is designed to meet specific challenges for a particular business’s or individual’s needs. In effect, the software never fails to meet requirements and is altered to scale with you and/or your business.
Because custom software is built towards specificity and there’s only a limited amount of the software, you won’t get the chance to check a million or so reviews of the product before purchasing.
A million might be a bit of an exaggeration. But for most people, there is quite a bit of relief when several people just like themselves have reviewed a product and rated it positively.
Further, as the product does not have wide accessibility, there won’t be a community when you ever want to discuss or ask questions about your custom software. In these cases at least, COTS software offers more community.
Custom software can give you a competitive advantage in the market. Once you spot how to refine your business by modernizing or customizing as necessary, custom software can help you stand out against your competitors.
How To Create Custom Software
Actually creating custom software is a complicated process. While you can look through the basic steps down below, keep in mind that in practice these steps are far more expansive than they may first appear.
Identify Pain Points
The first step in almost any process is awareness. You need to be aware of what your consumers or your business needs so you can address that problem directly with custom software.
This can be as simple as a way for users to access their client information easily. Or it can be something more complex, like an accounting application for all your specific transactions.
You can then brainstorm with a dedicated team solutions to the problem you’ve just identified. This might look like a list of needs and wants or a more distinctive feature such as a customer dashboard.
Your business can center your goal around measurable feats of success like lead generation or scalability. Of course, once you’ve defined your goals, you have to accept the challenge of meeting them.
Research Development Needs
Now you have to decide how exactly the project is going to get done. If you have your own software development team, then you might be better off than a lot of other businesses.
Otherwise, you can choose to outsource a software development team that is prepared to meet your needs. They will review your proposal and communicate with you about the project as it is developed in real-time.
Create the Final Product
After you’ve chosen how you’re going to build your custom software, it’s time to start developing. But first, you need to allocate quite a bit of time to planning and designing the software product before any code is written.
Having done that, you can finally get to business. Build, deploy, and refine.
How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Custom Software?
The price of custom software development will vary greatly depending on what you have built. A number of factors will influence the final cost of your custom software like:
- software size
- data migration
- integration with other software
Given that range, custom software can add up to between $2000 and $250,000.
5 Best Practices for Custom Software Development
You already know how to go about building custom software. But there are some guidelines you should consider in order to make sure that your software is being developed in a practical way to optimal standards.
1. Define the Requirements
Defining requirements is probably a given. However, it’s important to make sure you’re clear in communicating what you want so it cannot be misinterpreted further down the line.
2. Plan and Set Milestones
Specify a roadmap for the development cycle of your software. This will highlight key parts of your project such as initiatives, deliverables, roles and responsibilities, cost, and value.
3. Perform Tests
Performing tests frequently ensure that everything is working in proper order. This should have not only a technical focus, but your IT team should pay particular attention to how the user experience feels as well.
4. Document the Process
Documentation is pretty much a universal best practice in every field. Each stage of the process should be recorded in detail from testing to deployment and beyond. Ignorance of how and why the software works can never be an excuse.
5. Hire the Right Team to Develop Your Product
Even if you do have an in-house team, it’s important that your developers have the expertise necessary to develop potentially complex custom software. If not, you could risk the integrity of both the product and your business.
It’s not a bad idea to look for developers outside your own team for a specific project like custom software. Look for a specialist in the technology you’re building.
When Trio looks for developers, they ask a number of questions that go beyond just being good at coding. These questions might look like:
- “Can this person communicate well?”
- “Can this person work well remotely?”
- “Does this person have self-management skills?”
Essentially, when Trio sources developers they look for something special, and Trio is keen on spotting signs that our potential hires carry these characteristics.
On the technical side, Trio leaders watch candidates code so they can analyze how they approach problems and ultimately how they think.
Once a developer is brought on board, Trio gives them the tools to become even more specialized in their area of expertise.
Custom software development is a clever way for businesses to scale and solve problems in more direct ways. It is costly, but nevertheless effective.
Businesses who need custom software should pinpoint their trouble areas and design a plan for tackling them with a development team on hand!
At Deltologic, we can help you address your unique business needs with custom software developed for your company. No matter how complex or big your project is, our engineers will find a solution for you. Would you like to know more? Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk about your project!