Deciding to invest in custom software is not a decision that should be taken lightly. It can be expensive to implement and maintain. Most companies do not have the teams in place to build and maintain software internally and must depend on development partners to help them.
In a future article I will talk about what to look for in a custom software development partner, but for now let’s focus on reasons you should consider investing your money on custom software.
All businesses are dependent on moving and organizing information throughout a process. This could be taking an order from a customer, sending a request to a fulfillment partner, and sharing status updates with the customer. It could be gathering sample data from specialized equipment, presenting it for review, and delivering a report to an analyst. There are many more examples, but all of these examples manage the transfer and organization of information through the process.
Many companies rely on off-the-shelf solutions for parts of these processes. This could be locally using Excel, in the cloud using Google Sheets or Office 365, or even more specialized off-the-shelf solutions like the Microsoft Power Platform, Quick Base, or Oracle Service Cloud. All of these off-the-shelf solutions can effectively enable solutions.
Often companies use more than one of these solutions. When this happens, they end up with a complicated and manual process to transfer information from one system to another. This is where integration comes in. Businesses can find large efficiencies when an integration expert analyzes the process and finds ways to automate the sharing of information between systems.
Businesses can find large efficiencies when an integration expert analyzes the process
These solutions typically cost less to create and maintain, compared to creating a completely new system. They can streamline your process, thus saving your company money. System integrations are a great reason to consider investing in custom software.
It Does Not Exist Off the Shelf:
Successful businesses focus on a niche in their market. This often results in a business that has very few competitors. This also results in information systems that do not fit with the vision of off-the-shelf solutions. I have seen many of these companies try to pound an off-the-shelf solution into the shape they want only to end up investing more money than if they built a custom solution.
If the solution you need does not exist off-the-shelf, this is a great reason to consider an investment in custom software. In the end, you must analyze the cost it would take to customize an off-the-shelf solution versus the cost of building it from the ground up. Always keep in mind that building from the ground up removes the dependency on the off-the-shelf partners. This is critical when the off-the-shelf solution doesn’t focus on what you are trying to enable.
As mentioned in #2, successful businesses focus on a niche in their market. When this market is crowded, businesses compete for a limited amount of market share. Anything that differentiates your business from the competition is critical. Being able to respond to a customer in seconds instead of hours, shipping a product the same day instead of two, delivering medical data to a doctor instantly instead of the next day could all be the difference between your business and others.
When a business has an idea to differentiate themselves, custom software can enable that idea. It is important to consider whether an off-the-shelf solution will accommodate the idea. As mentioned in #4 though, do not fall into the trap where you invest just as much money customizing the off-the-shelf solution as you would in implementing a perfect custom software solution. When this happens, you have created a dependency with your idea/business and the off-the-shelf partner.
Businesses must go where their customers are. Customers’ expectations change over time as technology advances. Sometimes these shifts are clear and sometimes, they are not. Businesses that see the shift, and accommodate it, differentiate themselves from the competition and gain market share. We have seen Amazon take advantageof this shift as customers became more and more comfortable ordering products from their home for delivery instead of going to the brick and mortar store.
We have seen this shift as customers expect companies to have a mobile app to enable custom experiences on their mobile devices. Building custom software to meet customer expectations is a great reason to invest in custom software. If your business discovers these shifts early, it can be a huge advantage. Even if you are not aware of it, the longer you wait the more customers you will lose.
It is a fine line between jumping on every fad and recognizing a real shift in the market. Being able to differentiate can be the difference between a successful business and one that is not.Investing in custom software is a big decision. Custom software can be expensive to implement and maintain.
I have shared four reasons to consider the investment. I am sure there are more, but these are the reasons I have seen successful companies invest in and be successful. In a future article I will discuss what you should look for in a custom software development partner and how to approach the investment.