As a business is growing, it needs to keep multiple things on track. It needs to scale its administrative processes, its operations, its PR team, and even its IT infrastructure. A strong team can keep the ship afloat for a while, but eventually, their energies saps will dwindle. A growing business often needs a robust custom software solution to help automate and standardize the internal processes. Doing so will not only make work easier for team members, but it can also result in great savings.
Software is sometimes wrongly touted as a panacea to administrative and operational issues at companies. For a software solution to work well, it needs to be the right fit. Companies reach out to software consultancy firms for advice on how to solve their inefficiencies through technology. The companies are often unsure of how to evaluate available off-the-shelf solutions. In some cases, some off-the-shelf solutions can help solve a one-dimensional problem. But for a sophisticated business facing many issues, these signs show the need for a custom software solution.
1. Your Current Technology is Not Up to Scratch
If the current software you are using is not keeping up with business requirements, you may need a custom solution. You may be using a solution that is not fast enough or robust enough to handle the volume of data your business is generating. If you hold on to the old software too long, your staff may get frustrated because they are not as productive as they can be. It could also hurt customer satisfaction due to the slow speed of service.
Your business should also look at trends in your industry to find out whether it’s being left behind by peers and competitors.
2. Your Operational Costs are Too High
Another sign that you need custom software is when you are spending too much on labor that has little impact on your bottom line. If a lot of your staff are spending time doing repetitive work such as data entry or transferring data from one location to the next, it is a sign that perhaps you need a robust solution that frees them up for higher-level work.
The high costs may also result from changes in your customer mix and product mix. Perhaps there are newer ways to interact with the customers. You need a new custom software solution that will future-proof your operations.
3. Fragmented Data
Your business is constantly generating data. But that data may be of little use when it’s in different locations. Manually transferring data using CSV files is inefficient because it needs to be done manually over and over. There is a likelihood of errors occurring. If your business can integrate all these fragmented systems and have data automatically loaded in one location, it can easily make use of the data to generate useful insights.
However, integrating systems can be a complex undertaking when their architecture is different. Building a custom solution from scratch to handle the various operational tasks may be a better solution. The new software will be designed in a way that data that’s generated is automatically gathered and stored in readiness for analysis.
Your business can use data to discover trends and patterns so that it improves its decision-making.
4. Your Business has a Unique Need
Sometimes your business has a certain unique need that off-the-shelf software cannot handle. You may decide to build a custom add-on and use it alongside the off-the-shelf software. However, building your own custom software solution could prove to be a source of competitive advantage because it just works better than using an add-on.
Building your own custom solution also places control of the software in your hands. Your business can decide when to upgrade or tweak it according to its needs. For instance, as it opens new locations or creates new products, it may need to adjust the original version of the software.
5. Overreliance on Spreadsheets
Your business may be using spreadsheets to keep track of things, such as sales, customer records, and contracts. While spreadsheets programs such as Microsoft Excel are powerful in manipulating data, it may be more efficient to build a custom solution that relies less on manual processes. This will save time and effort while enabling the business to keep real-time track of important metrics. A web app could be a suitable replacement for spreadsheets if, for instance, it can add a dashboard for easier consumption of data and automated triggers.
6. Off-the-shelf isn’t Working as Custom Software Would
Investing in software is an expensive capital expenditure. If you purchase an off-the-shelf solution, it should work as expected. However, if there are constant bugs, it’s a sign that perhaps that wasn’t a good investment. Instead, of opting for another off-the-shelf solution, it may be best on invest in a custom solution that if purpose-built for your workflow.
Steps in Making Custom Software
The process of creating custom software for your business is intense. There will be a few brainstorming sessions where all ideas regarding what the software should offer are laid on the table. All stakeholders who will use the software should be present or represented in these sessions. Once the ideas are filtered, planning for the project starts. Here, a detailed analysis of the costs and benefits of the project happens.
Next, a system analysis happens. The whole project is broken down into deliverable modules or tasks. Each task in the project is assigned so that everything in the scope of work is covered. A system design is also due so that you define how the software will look and how the building process will happen systematically. The next step is coding the project, followed by rigorous testing. Once you fix the bugs, the project can launch with support from the development team.
The Right Custom Software Partner
If your business is experiencing signs of inefficiency and the need for a custom software solution, reach out to Transcendent Software. We will help your company evaluate its workflow and figure out whether a custom software solution would be the best way to improve efficiency. We will help you define the project scope and timeline, and see it done. For over 20 years, we’ve helped businesses build, test, and deploy custom software solutions.