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Taking a business from mediocre to extraordinary can be an effortless process. The maxims of business suggest that there is one criterion that sets successful organizations apart from their competitors: uniqueness.

How should a company accomplish such a feat? The answer is software. Information Technology is a foolproof way to transform organizations. However, most businesses do not take advantage of the millions of Software houses to outsource custom software solutions which result in stunted growth and limited opportunities.

After all, quality software boosts an organization’s processes making them efficient. It also transforms businesses into adaptable, and solution-oriented. It targets big to small administrative problems that affect either day to day business or complex operations.

What is custom software development?

Also known as bespoke software, custom software development is the process of building software or applications according to certain specifications. Unlike commercially available software that tries to fulfill general needs that most organizations face, custom software development involves building software that will address all of the needs of a single organization that cannot be fulfilled by existing solutions.

It can be implemented across a single department, or it can connect two departments. However, custom software is often implemented across every department within an organization. Some examples of custom software would include learning management systems for universities, employee portals, e-commerce outlets, customer relationship management systems, invoicing software, inventory management systems, the examples are endless.

The two choices: Commercial off the shelf software vs Custom software

Commercial off the shelf software, are those applications or software which can be downloaded from the internet. These are often available for free or at a minimum cost. Usually, they contain either a large range of tools available to the user or are limited to one specific area.

Microsoft Office would be an example of commercial software with a wide range of functions. For example, most small businesses use Excel for their accounting department transactions do not require a large data capacity or specialized tools to perform their day-to-day accounting operations.

Quickbooks would be software that is limited to one function. It is an accounting software created for small to medium-sized businesses to create financial statements, manage inventory, and create invoices.  

The type of software companies chooses depends largely on their needs. When an organization’s needs are largely generic, or they require a solution for a problem that is limited to a single department, organizations choose to purchase commercial off the shelf software.

Alternatively, companies also choose to invest in custom software development when existing commercial software either cannot fulfill their capacity or they have very specific needs which generic or modified software cannot fulfill. The organization also chooses custom software development if the size of the company is very large. The majority of commercial software can not handle the amount of data that a large company harnesses on a day to day basis. Both choices have their own advantages and disadvantages.

What is commercial off the shelf software?

Commercial software is much like a one size fits all t-shirt, it consists of a broad category of ready to use software solutions.  It attempts to cater to all sorts of organizations hence, most of its features and functions are limited to those which other organizations need as well. Microsoft Excel is an example of commercial off the shelf software, it can be used for a wide variety of accounting functions. However, it can only handle up to a certain amount of data. This is a common feature in most commercial off the shelf software.

What makes custom software attractive?

The greatest benefit of custom software development is that increases productivity and efficiency. It is designed to solve problems that are hindering its day-to-day processes. Developers also develop exclusive features for the organization’s unique processes. If the software is developed well, then a company can license it and sell it to other companies. This can create another source of income.

Custom software development allows a business to have the authority to use the software as they please. At the same time, it is flexible since custom software provides the freedom to the user to modify it as needed. Scaling up or down, adding more functions if needed, or integrate across all or only certain departments of the organization.

Another advantage of custom software development is that it is cost-effective. Since it has been built for our specific needs, it will be designed to be easily integrated into existing systems. Hence, the number of training employees need to go through is reduced. Resistance to the system is also decreased the software may be more or less familiar to the employees.  

Though custom software development is an expensive endeavor it can be profitable in the long run because unlike commercial off-the-shelf software there will be no hidden costs. Organizations often pay additional charges for commercial off-the-shelf software such as pay to add features, maintenance, and debugging to name a few. Additionally, commercial software may not keep up to date with an organization’s ever-evolving IT infrastructure requiring companies to develop custom software.

The fourth advantage of custom software is that it is scalable. As businesses slowly evolve and expand their operations, so does the software. As a result, the organization’s systems and software architecture can be manipulated very easily. This is difficult to achieve with commercial software the code belongs to the business offering the software package.

Custom software also allows a greater degree of accessibility for employees. Most organizational data lies in different departments. Often, the information has to be compiled manually, a time-consuming process that results in delays in annual report making. Custom software allows data to be imported to one place so that all members of the organization can have access to it. Even better, data can be compiled and any type of report can be generated automatically with the right custom software development.

The next advantage is that any technical issue can be promptly addressed. This because the company has access to the code that was used to develop the custom software. However, commercial software package providers would need to update their packages, which takes time and does not solve the existing problem.

Finally, custom software development provides a competitive advantage. This is because the software cannot be easily replicated by anyone else. It provides a layer of security to the business. At the same time, it provides a unique way of executing processes or delivering products/services.

What makes custom software unattractive?

One of the biggest issues with custom software development is that it is a time-consuming process. Since it has to be built with specific requirements, it takes time for developers to understand the business and test out the application. Hence, it is necessary for custom software projects to be planned carefully.

Another issue arising is that it can cost to develop custom software development. Prices can reach the five-figure range. It takes time and research to find a software development company that can work within a company’s budget.

How to ensure custom software development is successful

Through custom software development can be done in house, it is much better to outsource it. This is because an existing team may not necessarily have the expertise to develop it. Hence, outsourcing software development can allow an organization to relegate the process completely or to contract experts to collaborate with the existing team. Here are some tips to ensure that the process is successful. 

Consider costs realistically

Many companies believe that there is an upfront cost when purchasing custom software development. The reality is, there are many hidden costs behind both types of solutions since maintaining the software, training employees to use the software, having an in-house team to manage bugs and errors, integrate updates, and correct potential errors in the system. All of these issues require capital investment from the company after buying a custom solution.

Research thoroughly

Before deciding to outsource custom software development, it is important to investigate which organizations are providing their services. Going through the “top 10 custom software development companies” can be helpful. However, many software development companies may not be listed. Hence, it can be helpful to go through company profiles on websites like Linkedin and clutch. co. Finally, it is also helpful to ask for recommendations from other people who have outsourced their software. They may point to trustworthy companies or provide insight into what features to look out for.

Compare profile to reviews  

There are a few factors that one should always keep in mind when selecting an outsourcing custom software development company. The first one is to go through social media since it provides an outlook on organizational culture. Next, analyze blogs to get an idea of expertise and the type of technical knowledge that the company provides. Finally, to assess how well the company is applying what is shown in blogs and social media compare to reviews. After all, only clients who have worked with the company can provide a picture of culture and work ethic. 

Specify your requirements

Outlining the organization’s current issues, along with an analysis of existing systems can help the company decide what features should the software have. A good way to ensure it reflects the problems of the company is to integrate employees and managers. What issues do they face on a daily basis because of the software? What features would they suggest? These are answers that only employees can provide.

Prepare for long term change 

Computer software is an evolving phenomenon, businesses should be able to keep up with them and update their system. Consequently, they should ensure that the third party who is providing custom software development services will assist the company with updates, maintenance, and training. This can allow the company to keep up with the changes in the industry and maintain a competitive edge.

Monitor the process

Keeping track of the entire software development process is essential. This is not just beneficial to fulfill the milestones of the projects on time but to select test plans, decide on a checklist, and finally, vetting software. This way, companies can ensure that the custom software development process is being executed by the outsourcing company according to the instructions provided to them.

Software boosts the efficiency and productivity of the company, it adapts to increased organizational capabilities. It is the best long term investment because it has no hidden costs, can be used as needed by organizations, and can easily be scaled up or down. In light of the advantages of custom software development, it would be a disservice for any organization that wishes to engage in long term growth.

Custom software is akin to a tailor-made suit for your company. A good suit can take you to places and we specialize in making software that fits. Our software was built to last because it doesn’t keep up with the trends, it sets them. Contact Pacsquare technologies at (202) 821-477 or info@pacsquare.com. Our 10-year experience is at the tips of your fingers