6 Benefits And Risks Of Custom Business Software

pros cons custom business software advantages customized programs

As it is so common in business, everything comes with an inevitable trade-off. This statement is especially valid for the IT sector, where tough decisions might have to be faced on a daily basis. Statistics from the World Trade Organization show that small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for 90% of all companies worldwide and are the backbone of the global economy. Though they are categorically similar to each other, there is great diversity when it comes to their individual business needs and the software solutions they choose. 

That is why we can’t pinpoint a universal strategy that will be equally beneficial for all companies. Instead, when choosing business software, decision-makers should precisely decide which business needs have to be addressed and what is the best way to cover them with the available resources, be it human, financial or intellectual. From my experience working in a bespoke software development company, I can tell that an individual consultation is the best approach when you contemplate choosing a custom business software or going with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions. 

Advantages Of Bespoke Business Software Development 

Anyone who has ever needed new software has inevitably had to deal with the question of whether standard software is sufficient or whether it is better to have custom software programmed. Here are the main pros of having a software solution tailored to your business needs. 

Targets Your Specific Needs 

Needless to say that each business and industry has unique requirements and pain points. Software development exists for a reason, and it is not just to fulfil unique customers requests. High-quality custom business software does much more. It gives your business a strategic competitive advantage as it can streamline processes and help you serve your customers better. Whether your business needs process optimization to balance your workflow with BPM software or you need a custom tool to plan your resources with ERP, to take care of your pain points and turn them into strengths, you will need to invest in reliable software. Keep educating yourself to become even more proficient with development and implementation.

Scalability And Flexibility 

We live in a world of constant changes. What was trendy a year ago might not be relevant anymore. To adapt your company to the ever-changing requirements of the business context and your customers, you need to make your products and services scalable. Custom software solutions are famous for being scalable and adaptable to your business growth because they provide you with a stable tech infrastructure that can withstand transformations. Simply put, nowadays, those who can be flexible and face demanding challenges adequately get the bigger piece of cake because they recognise and acknowledge changes as natural learning opportunities. 

The Compatibility Factor 

If you decide to go with ready-to-use software, it can turn out that it is either redundant or insufficient. Bespoke solutions are ideal when you need to ensure your software is compatible with other systems (legacy software and hardware). Due to the individual approach, the development team chooses for your solution, bespoke software is much more compatible with your current system specifications and easy to integrate than commercial mass-market programs. 

Custom Business Software Support 

Unfortunately, even the best-written software is never finished because new technologies emerge on a monthly basis. Most importantly, in order for the program to run smoothly, it will need regular technical support such as updates and patches. Software maintenance processes are the essential precaution to avoid downtime, data loss or poor software performance such as lags or sudden system discrepancies. The good news is when you choose bespoke software you have a qualified expert team on your side that can give you the best up to date advice regarding your business software. 

Business Process Optimisation 

To opt for custom business software means that you don’t need to adapt to a COTS software package. Instead, it is the other way around. Your custom software development team will provide you with design features and unique options that specifically aim to optimise the way your business processes flow. Every software element can be precisely aligned with existing structures to save you precious time and deliver cost-effective results in the long run. As your business grows, functions will be modified and expanded, or even in the events of downsizing, your business can choose to remove some of the tech components that are no longer needed (e.g. ATS, CRM, HRMS etc.) 

Complete Product Ownership 

Keep in mind that when you choose to use a ready-made software solution, you automatically have to accept all terms and conditions and prepare for changes in rules and fees over time. Essentially, you sign up for being a product user. On top of that, when if you wish to stop using their software, your data might get lost. A much different scenario unfolds when you go with bespoke software as your business owns the developed solution. Instead of just a user, you become a product owner. This has the advantage of being in charge, which entails making all critical decisions, choosing all elements of the business software and having full control over the solution. Of course, you might not be an expert in developing software, which can make product ownership harder to achieve. Master product ownership with SAFe POPM certification course workshops to get around this problem - the more you learn, the stronger your position will be, and the faster you'll be able to develop your own solutions. 

Disadvantages Of Bespoke Business Software Development 

Higher Initial Investment 

The financial factor is not one to be underestimated as it plays a crucial role in every business, no matter how small or big. Some executives may consider the higher initial costs of developing a bespoke software solution to be a disadvantage. However, the keyword here is initial. While it is true that you may pay more for a customised software at first, if you plan to use it in the long run, it will bring value to your business. The solution is going to reduce operational costs once it gets in exploitation. 

The Time Factor 

A custom software development with all its essential steps like design, setup and implementation requires more time for finishing the product when compared with an off-the-shelf solution. This might oppose time schedules and may represent a significant disadvantage for SMEs looking for quick and immediate solutions. Also, due to the time-consuming nature of custom software development, the probability of unpredicted complications and further delays rise. 

Thorough Documentation Requirements 

Ready to use business software packages usually have available training and documentation included as resources. Depending on the firm you work with, some custom software may lack this comprehensive documentation. This might turn out to be a limitation to the effective functioning of some system based on the particular custom software. To avoid this, always be sure to ask for complete product documentation. 

Outsourcing The Development Process 

Some SMEs decide to outsource their software development partially or entirely. This may pose the problem of having your dev team far away from you in a different local time zone, which may be a drawback for some business owners. Thankfully, we live in a globalised world with such an abundance of technically skilled professionals that what may first strike as a disadvantage may as well turn out to be an advantage. 

Possible Language Barrier 

This one has a lot to do with the previous paragraph. If you outsource software development, you will most likely have to work with non-native English speakers. To avoid any communication problems and misunderstanding, always set up interviews with the chosen software development company to be sure their language skills are strong. 

Partnering With A Wrong Vendor 

Without a reliable technical partner, the chances of your business software being a flop are high. Do your detailed research, background checks, and gain as much information as possible about the company you are about to trust your custom software development

What experience do they have in similar projects? What are their values? Is their work climate good? These are all relevant factors that can affect the quality of your software dev.

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