In today’s highly competitive business environment, managers have to make a choice between off-the-shelf software or customized software. However, for a business that is highly specialized, off-the-shelf software often falls short of performance requirements. Such software often misses important functions or is bloated with functions the business does not require. There are numerous benefits of going for a built-from-scratch solution, all of which can contribute to business revenue growth. Let’s break down a few of these.
Simplified Business Workflow
Customized software suits your business’s core functions. It helps improve efficiency and minimize costs by automating previously manual tasks. It frees up your staff to concentrate on higher-level tasks, including following up on leads. They can generate reports automatically to help them when following up on potential customers and this demonstration of knowledge reflects positively on the business. In the long run, the business gets more leads and converts a higher percentage of these. A well-customized software also offers more visibility that enables management to iron out kinks or bottlenecks in operations. This enables faster delivery of goods and services to clients.
Security of Information
A major benefit of customized software is the ability to implement customized security measures depending on organizational needs. The fact that off-the-shelf software is more common makes it an easier target for hackers. As such, with customized software, a business can assure customers of greater security of their personal information. This can prove to be an advantage especially when competitors opt for more vulnerable software.
Maintenance and Support of Customized Software
When businesses buy off-the-shelf software, they rarely know how long the manufacturer will continue to support the software with updates and newer versions. The developer company could discontinue it with only a year’s notice. However, with custom-built software, the vendor is made to understand the outlook of the business and the expectations with regard to scalability. They, therefore, build the software to be able to support business growth and longevity. New features can be added on the fly as the business scales, which allows faster rollout of new features.
Another great advantage is that with custom software, the vendor would release newer versions of the software to support new needs. This is much cheaper than investing in a new off-the-shelf solution. Being able to integrate the best software into your workflow offers customers a great experience when they interact with your business, which is essential for growth.
Hardware and Integration
Off-the-shelf software has to run on certain minimum hardware requirements. Buying the software might mean investing in the hardware as well. That is a big capital investment for any business. However, with custom-built software, the engineers can build a light version that will not require too powerful hardware to run, thus saving the business money while still serving the intended purpose.
Custom software is also built with integration in mind. The vendors will be aware of other ERPs the business uses. They will build the new software in a manner that makes it easier to run them side by side, including being able to communicate and execute tasks smoothly. Off-the-shelf software can often fail to run as expected when introduced into an organization’s workflow. This might result in disruptions in service delivery.
Customized Software Creates Opportunities for AI Technology Application
A major reason for opting for custom-built software is the ability to create opportunities for collecting data. This might include sales numbers, customer details, worker output, production figures, and much more. Collecting significantly enough data can help the business make predictions about which leads are most promising. It also becomes possible to make production targets based on historical data and models that take in any number of variables.
Being able to make these decisions makes for better customer service. It can lead to decisions on introducing new products in the market, changing prices, and even the type of messaging to use in communication to customers.
Things to Consider Before Going for a Custom Software Solution
A business must first ensure that its business needs are so specific that off-the-shelf software cannot suitably fit the bill. A custom solution will often be more expensive than an off-the-shelf one because of the economies of scale in the latter. It is important to ensure that the expected return from custom software is worth the premium the business has to pay.
Contracting a vendor to build a custom solution is a risk. They might not have the experience or resources to handle the project. It might take longer than projected and even cost more than initially anticipated. Therefore, it might be wise to engage the services of a consultant before hiring a vendor to build customized software. A consultant will ensure that all the required deliverables are well recorded in the contract and key timelines in the delivery process established. This will keep the vendor accountable. Time is such an important factor to consider. When an urgent solution is due, there may not be enough time to design, build, test, and launch a custom solution.
As highlighted earlier, support and maintenance are a great selling point for custom software, but only if the vendor will provide these throughout the useful life of the software. They should make the commitment, but also demonstrate the ability to provide such support to other clients as well. Depending on the complexity of the software, the vendor might need to provide some training and tech support to your in-house staff.
Finally, a few questions can help decide whether your business needs custom software. First, the business must have a critical need that existing off-the-shelf software cannot solve. In addition, the current software might be out of date. Getting new software can help speed up workflow and gain an edge on competitors. Finally, there might be a question of the complexity of the workflow that only a totally customized system can properly address all needs of the various departments in the business.
If your business needs help to develop a custom software solution, check out Transcendent Software. We are an experienced IT services firm with experience in helping clients design and benefit from customized software solutions.