Acquiring custom software for your business is a major decision that will require a significant capital investment. You, therefore, need to be sure that the software will add value to your business model. The decision may need to be approved by the board, which business that you will need to build a business case to present to them. You’ll need to show that a customized solution fits better than an off-the-shelf solution. Here are 7 signs that a customized software solution is the way forward for your business model.
1. Manual Processes are Slowing Down Business
Small businesses that handle a few transactions every day can get away with manual handling of invoices, customer requests, and back-office operations. However, as the volume and speed of business increase, staff can easily get overwhelmed by paperwork. This can lead to longer turnaround times for order completions, payment of invoices, or response to emergency maintenance requests. In such circumstances, custom software could be built to automate some of the manual processes. A good example would be the 3-way matching of invoices with order requests and delivery notes before payment of suppliers. It not only hastens the process but also minimizes the likelihood of fraud or human error.
2. Slow Adoption of Current Solution
Your business might be using an off-the-shelf solution to support your workflow, but the adoption rate remains low. It could be that the employees are finding the software difficult to use, perhaps due to a complicated interface. The challenge might also be realized at the training stage, where employee feedback indicates resistance to adopt the third-party solution.
In that case, the business might be better placed building their own custom solution, with a simpler and easy-to-learn interface.
3. Growth that Needs Support through Custom Software
Your business could be expanding too fast that a legacy system is unable to provide the necessary level of support. For instance, when you have several branches and need all of them to have a central system to monitor inventory levels and sales, a cloud-based workflow management system might be required. The business might be using another system that is also not capable of scaling to account for new functions or products the business is selling. When undergoing rapid transformation, the business should have in place a scalable system. This will save the cost of tearing everything apart every few months or years.
4. Too Much Fragmentation
A great sign that a custom software solution suits your business is when you are using multiple software to support your workflow. You might have a CRM for sales support but a spreadsheet for sales reports. This could lead to inefficiencies. It becomes difficult to leverage data from one system to support the next. It might be better to build a solution that bridges the different functions.
A single software that has all functions your employees need also improves their morale. It is a better implementation than having to toggle between three or four apps. A system that brings everything together makes it easier to collaborate and share documents, track changes, and document all communication regarding a project.
5. High Licensing Fees for Off-the-Shelf Solution
Highly specialized software can be expensive to license. Your business could be paying a high fee that in the long run is equivalent to build an in-house custom solution. This decision requires a detailed cost-benefit analysis. For instance, the business has to find the correct vendor to build the custom solution. The vendor should be willing to provide critical support, including periodic updates as required.
Building in-house solutions also frees up the business from relying on the third-party developer for updates, documentation, and bug-fixing. Building an in-house system is great for branding, especially when the app is going to be downloaded and used by customers to interact with your business. Banks and restaurants have successfully used mobile apps smartly for this purpose.
6. You Need to Use Analytics
If your business relies on data collected to draw insights and make critical decisions, a custom solution could be right for you. Manual collection of data is tiring, expensive, and prone to errors. A custom solution is built in such a way that data is collected automatically as transactions happen. The business gets to collect the data that it deems important. The data is automatically organized and stored away in a database, ready for use.
Analytics tools can then be built into the software allowing managers to quickly query the database and generate reports. In other instances, real-time analytics can be set up so that alerts are triggered when certain things happen. The overall impact is richer decision-making for the top management of the company.
7. Fixing Recurring Issues with Custom Software
The reliability of the current system could also push businesses towards building their own custom solution for their business model. The system might not be robust enough, leading to frequent downtimes. This might leave your customers dissatisfied, especially when they expend the service to be available around the clock. Frequent downtimes may be a sign that the system is a misfit in your workflow. The business will need to commission a more robust system from a reputable developer.
Approaching a Custom Software Project Correctly
Custom software development projects are never easy to implement. The business needs to begin with a business case analysis to determine the software’s key features. The process should yield a brief for the vendor. The vendor will first build clickable wireframes for approval of the UI. Once approved, they can then begin coding the project. Depending on the complexity of the project, the development process can take weeks or months. Comprehensive documentation of the software is important for training and future reference of the in-house IT team.
Once ready, the soft launch of the custom software can take place, to enable the fixing of any bugs. Training of staff will then follow before the main launch.
If your business needs to plan for and develop custom software, check out Transcendent Software. We are a fully-fledged IT services company. We plan, develop, launch, and support custom software for business clients, helping them improve and optimize workflows.