Almost every innovative company asks itself this question at some point: is it time to move to custom software? The initial cost is certainly higher than a ready-made software, yet the long-term investment in custom software development can optimise time and resources and make day-to-day operations simple and smooth.
The first thing to ask yourself before commissioning custom software development is whether it is really useful to your business. Otherwise, you risk to sink resources in a wasteful adventure. It is necessary to evaluate, therefore, whether there is not already generic software on the market that can improve business processes.
In this JOurnal article, we’ll look at the benefits of custom software development and how to figure out if it’s actually worth it.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CUSTOM SOFTWARE AND OTS SOFTWARE
Pre-packaged software are programs like Microsoft Office and WordPress and are designed and built to meet generalized needs. Custom software, on the other hand, is developed to fulfill a specific range of an organisation’s needs. A medical program that records a patient’s documents and visits for a local clinic or software that regulates the operations of a farm, on the other hand, are examples of custom software.
The first is a tool that can fit everyone’s needs and, therefore, risks missing some features that could be very important for a specific industry or to gain a competitive advantage. The second is created precisely for those particular purposes.
The difference that runs between the two is comparable to that between a Phillips screwdriver and a slotted screwdriver. Imagine having to tighten a row of Phillips screws with the latter. You have to put considerable pressure on each screw to make sure your hand doesn’t slip off, and risk hurting yourself.
If the task is routine and is repeated several times a day the tool quickly wears out and soon needs to be replaced. The operation would be easier with a Phillips type screwdriver, which fits perfectly or nearly perfectly into the screw grooves.
In short, using OTS software means having to work day after day to adapt a generic computer program to specific processes. Custom software is built just like any other computer program, except that there is more communication between the development team and the company that will use it.
CUSTOMISED SOFTWARE VS OTS SOFTWARE
Using OTS software means having to engineer day after day to adapt a generic computer program to particular needs. However, custom software development has implications that should not be ignored. Let’s take a look at the various pros and cons.
Adding the latest analytical features will always be more expensive than grabbing a product off a store shelf. As much as with an OTS software some factors might raise the price, buying a ready-made application keeps the budget lower.
Those who require custom software development cannot rely on tens of thousands of reviews. Many people are relieved that others like them have tried a product and rated it positively. Also, since it is a software that is not accessible to everyone, you will not be able to ask information about the software to a community of other users.
If the OTS software is not updated frequently enough by the manufacturer, there is a risk of losing further ground to competitors who use custom software. The arrival of new regulations or changes in the market could lead to a further slowdown. On the other hand, an OTS software will be much easier to obtain (it is not for nothing that we talk about “off the shelf” program), while the development of a custom software, depending on its complexity, may require many weeks or months.
In general, the implementation of changes in the various stages of business production will always be more complex with pre-packaged software, because this is designed for a wide range of activities and not for a specific use.
On the other hand, the main objective of custom software development is to achieve greater efficiency and scalability. In fact, custom software allows you to support operations by ensuring greater integration between departments. It also grows or changes as the business grows or changes. The higher costs of custom software are also justified by the “tailor-made” development that incorporates process improvements, while OTS software often forces you to purchase additional packages as your needs change.
In summary, it can be said that with a ready-made computer program the company has to adapt its processes to the software, while vice versa with a customized software it is the program that adapts to the company.
THE ADVANTAGES OF CUSTOM SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT
Achieving scalability and efficiency gains are very important outcomes in today’s ever-changing industrial landscape. Often, off-the-shelf software can’t sustain the growth of a company that sees bugs popping up when it modifies the program, bringing production to a halt.
Custom software, on the other hand, is immediately designed to be easily upgradable. The benefits of custom software development don’t end there, however.
REDUCED INTEGRATION COSTS
A further benefit is the reduction in integration costs of applications that the company already has. In fact, before buying an OTS software, you need to ask yourself if it will work within your digital ecosystem. If the answer is no, you may be forced to purchase a third software program that connects the new software with the technological infrastructure already in place.
Custom software development increases a company’s productivity because it incorporates into the computer code specific knowledge, data and experience of the people who work in the company. Employees are also more encouraged to work with software developed to meet their needs.
The biggest advantage of custom software development is probably the independence that comes with it. The company avoids experiencing increases in licensing and support fees or being stuck with an outdated tool if the software house takes it out of production. The downside is that maintenance costs fall on the company itself.
CONTINUOUS TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
There is no such thing as perfection in software development. Any computer program will sooner or later have bugs and need an update. When this happens it is important to have a technical support service immediately available that can find a solution quickly. With custom software development, companies can count on a dedicated team of IT professionals who have a direct and real interest in keeping that software running and efficient.
The last positive aspect is that, terms and conditions of the contract permitting, the company could decide to put the developed software on the market to make a profit.
CUSTOM SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT: HOW TO UNDERSTAND IF YOU NEED IT
When we talk about custom software development, in addition to building a program from scratch, we can refer to three types of intervention:
One way to approach a build-vs-buy analysis is to ask yourself if you can find software on the market that is capable of providing 80% of the features you need to:
Custom software development is an important process of designing, creating and maintaining software for a specific organization. If you have in-house developers in your company, you may already have a consistent advantage over most competitors, otherwise you can choose a development team that is ready to meet your needs. To receive more information and learn more about which solution is best for you, fill out the HT APPS contact form.