How to decide whether you need custom software
In Parts one and two of how custom software development can grow your business, we looked at the advantages that building your own system has over off-the-shelf software packages.
However, we are aware that customised software might not be the solution for every business. So in this final part of the series, we take a look at the discovery process you should address to help you determine if customised software will resolve issues for your business.
The discovery process should include your long-term goals, the challenges you face to meet your objectives and your current financial situation.
Assessing the needs of your business
The first stage of the discovery process is to determine what advantages customised software development offers your business. Do you need a technology that can mould around your business model, or are you confident of finding the solutions you need in various off-the-shelf software packages?
Large companies with several departments typically require multiple software technologies including database development, customer relationship management, enterprise resource management and several programs to fulfil operational requirements.
This makes buying off-the-shelf software more expensive, particularly when the software becomes outdated within 12 to 18 months and you have to upgrade to new editions.
There is also an issue of what you will do when web technologies require you to adapt to new markets immediately. When you are confined to the rigid functionality of existing software, do you have an alternative solution?
By identifying your core business requirements and planning for future growth of your company, you will be able to estimate development costs and implement risk management solutions that address inevitable changes. The bottom line is, which software option will give you the best ROI.
Assess future needs of your business
Knowing where you want to take your business over the long-term enables you to plan a strategy you expect will get you there. Unforeseeable changes in technology withstanding, is the technological infrastructure of your business robust enough to cope with future demands?
The standard architecture of a business will always have limitations, and in some cases, there might not be a quick-fix solution you can buy when you need it.
By understanding the requirements of your business, you can determine the likelihood of solutions being available. If you go down the path and rely on canned software, there is a risk that software companies do not share the same ideas as you.
As a result, it may not be possible to implement your ideas and take your business in the direction you want to go. Relying on software companies refines you to the box their software is capable of achieving.
Customised software solutions require adapting and maintaining which means you need support from capable IT technicians. Without technical personnel, maintaining a customised infrastructure will be difficult.
If you don’t have in-house IT staff, you have to decide whether it is plausible to partner with a software development off-site and question whether they can provide the solutions to meet your business needs.
Custom software provides more flexible and scalable benefits to your company than off-the-shelf packages. Tailoring software to meet your business needs is the best option to ensure you can implement a comfortable growth strategy – but your company also has to be in a position to take advantage of the benefits customised software provides.