Wondering whether you should go for customized software? Here are the most important things to learn before hiring a team.

5 Reasons to Develop Custom Software

In today’s world, it is so important to stand out in the constantly evolving business arena. But how do you gain that competitive advantage? Custom tools and applications ensure that your solution is personalized, meaning that it performs the exact functionality your business requires to succeed. Here are the top 5 things to learn about customized software before moving further on your journey to business growth.

What Is Custom Software Development?

The software a business uses can be divided into off-the-shelf, or generic, soft- and freeware and custom software solutions. Product companies develop off-the-shelf applications independently and further market them for wide use among all applicable audiences and industries. The provider is the complete owner of the tool, meaning that you accept the conditions of usage the owner sets.

By contrast, custom, or bespoke, the software is developed specifically per your request. Such software, therefore, meets the particular needs of the customer or their business and can be as complex as needed to provide the desired functionality. With this being said, customized software development is the go-to choice when the primary goal is to achieve a certain type of functionality since the tool you get is tailored entirely to your needs and environment. 

Software Development Process

As with any software development, customizing solutions is an extensive process that has a set order of procedures to be followed. Overall, there are 7 main stages that your project is divided into before you get a complete and ready-to-use solution.

Stage #1. Research

The first stage of the software development process implies completing tedious research of the project. This includes identifying business needs, goals, currently used solutions if there are any, and the desired functionality. Eventually, you end up with a list of technical requirements to be met with the tailored solution.

Stage #2. Planning 

Having gathered the information, it is now possible to come up with a clear and precise understanding of what needs to be done and how that will be achieved technically. The planning stage also involves discussing the project with the client in terms of the estimated time frame and budget.

Stage #3. Design

Next comes deciding on the visual part of the solution. The task at this stage is to decide on how the technical aspects will be presented to the user through the custom software design. It is also where the client’s brand identity needs to be integrated into the solution.

Stage #4. Development

After the application’s design is done, it is time to start the development itself. At this point, the design is being tied to the code so that the application can perform as a complete piece. In addition, documentation is developed along the way at this stage.

Stage #5. User Acceptance Testing

The next stage is to test how the developed application performs. By executing business use cases, users ensure that the functionality aligns with the requirements and performs at the desired speed and quality. Then, the team implements any changes to the software in case it requires them. 

Stage #6. Implementation

When the solution performs according to the requirements, it goes live. At the same time, documentation is approved and released, along with further guidelines on product support and maintenance.

Stage #7. Maintenance

The ongoing use of the tool is accompanied by support and maintenance to keep it up to date. This is also for when the client needs to improve the solution by adding or adjusting the functionality.

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What Are the Advantages of Custom Software?

If it is your first time diving deep into the custom development of a tool or application, it is worth understanding why you need it in the first place. Here is a list of the benefits you receive by getting a tailored solution to make an informed decision.

  #1 Cost-effectiveness

Some off-the-shelf solutions may seem more affordable, especially since they are ready for use here and now. With custom-made software, your business will possess 100% of IP rights on the product developed to meet your business goal. You have complete control over the process, including features the app will have and the development budget. In addition, you have the flexibility to choose an engagement model that suits your needs the best. 

  #2 Personalization

A bespoke solution is crucial to stay on top of a competitive business environment. Even though ready-made solutions may provide vast functionality, your competitors are much likely to be using the same application, hence having access to the same set of features and possibilities. Besides, you may use custom development to improve an existing off-the-shelf tool and put yourself ahead of the competitors. Therefore, getting a personalized solution tailored to your particular needs and goals will provide you with an opportunity to occupy the leading position on the market. 

  #3 Scalability

As a result of using an existing application, your company’s growth may lead you to face the lack of suitable functionality. Instead, the great flexibility of Custom software design and functionality will make it easy for you to adjust to the constantly changing business environment.  

  #4 Effortless integration

Since the application is developed to be further integrated into your in-house environment, with all its specific aspects taken into account, it will not be a challenge to make the solution live. The new solution will perfectly align with the existing systems and currently established processes, hence requiring minimum delays or additional efforts. Eventually, the seamless integration of a well-functioning solution will appear as a time-efficient and effective improvement.

  #5 Exclusive ownership

When investing in your own application, you are not limited by any regulations or rules, which may happen if you use off-the-shelf solutions. Consequently, you are not restricted to further business development in any way. Not to mention, you are familiar with the budget to be spent at the planning stage — no additional license or other fees have to be applied and will not come up unexpectedly.

  #6 Security

For companies working with sensitive data, such as those in healthcare or fintech, custom-developed software ensures increased security. Since the solution is developed with all the specific regulations of the industry considered, it is fully compliant with them. Additionally, proper testing activities minimize the risk of intrusion or data breach. 

  #7 Reliability

The fact that customized software development is performed according to the standards and commonly used technologies in a particular industry also plays a role in its more reliable functioning when compared to that of ready-made tools. The application you need will be based on the best practices with hidden risks considered, as well as will have continuous maintenance and support, which altogether ensures its stable performance.

  #8 Ongoing support & updates

Since you hire a software development company to provide you with a bespoke solution, you secure yourself with all-time access to the maintenance service. In case you need to tweak the existing functionality or extend it with new capabilities, the team will always have you covered. You will not have to contact the ready-made tool’s provider after its update to figure out how to make it work for your organization. Instead, you will have trusted experts to improve your internal programs in your particular business environment. 

In addition, you don’t have to worry about updating your subscription or license since you do not have any. Not to mention, the dedicated team will keep the tool up to date and aligned with other software you may be using.

What Are the Types of Custom Software?

Of course, a team of skillful developers will bring any kind of idea to life, but to make it a useful investment, you better have an understanding of what software type you need exactly. Here are the most requested types of software among custom development of tools and applications.

E-commerce software

With the global digitalization driven by Covid, e-commerce has been booming. More and more customers now prefer to shop online, hence numerous businesses are shifting to websites. Therefore, online stores have definitely been among the most demanded types of software, regardless of whether it is building one from scratch or customizing an existing one.

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems

A common type of software useful to businesses in basically any industry is customer relationship management (CRM) systems. These help to keep data on customers, vendors, referrals and other information important for business growth. The good practice of developing a custom CRM system implies that you can also adjust additional integrations to fully customize the system to your business processes.

Content management systems (CMS)

Another major type of software in today’s digital world is content management systems. The fight for the audience’s attention is rougher than ever, so having all your visuals and other marketing materials in place is crucial. Of course, there are some ready-made CMS packages available out there, but getting one that is adjusted to the needs of your particular business makes the processes so much faster and simpler.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software

ERP solutions play a key role in managing daily operations across all the business processes, including project management, supply chain, and accounting, among others. With a custom ERP system, you can manage all these in one place, therefore avoiding data duplication and saving time on mastering and switching between different applications.

Operations management software

Lastly, tools and applications for operations management help businesses deliver the best outputs to their clients by keeping track of efficiency and overall performance. Among all, these kinds of applications automate business operations to shorten output time and hence, lead to better results.

What Affects the Cost of Custom Software Development?

The cost you will have to pay for the development of bespoke software varies. The reason is that a number of factors impact the time and budget needed, mostly being guided by the peculiarities of your project. In particular, here is a list of aspects to consider when trying to set up the budget for your future solution.

1. Expertise required

The biggest factor impacting the cost of the development is the proficiency of the engineers you need. This includes the technology stack and platform to be used, along with any licensing expenses. In addition, the level of the team’s experience defines the delivery time and quality, which also leads to changes in expenses.

2. Cooperation model

The 2 most common hiring models for tailored application building are the team-based and project-based models. 

Hiring a dedicated team implies that the team may change in size throughout the project according to the skills demanded. This model would be beneficial for projects that do not have any fixed requirements or are still in pursuit of the most successful solution. The project-based model implies that a detailed analysis is being done. This model is rather suitable for projects that have a clear vision and timeline of what needs to be done, hence use a more or less fixed scope structure throughout the project development. Depending on the project details one or another model can be more cost efficient in your specific case.

3. Scope of work refinement

It is important to have a clear understanding of business needs you want to address, and correspondingly their priorities. Scope creeping is a typical issue that appears when there is no clear definition of business cases to be covered. That is why it is always better to invest more time into the initial analysis and then build what you really need, instead of trying to cover every possible scenario making your software bigger and more complicated.

Final Thoughts

Before diving into hiring a provider, it is important to determine what business goals are to be satisfied with the future solution, what type of software will help achieve it, and what will be the cost. There are many meaningful advantages of custom software that help outweigh competitors on the market, regardless of what the business does or industry belongs to. Therefore, bespoke software is definitely the way to consider when you aim at growing the business.

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