Why Custom Software Development Is Important
All businesses are unique, and sometimes business operations can’t be met with commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS). Let's explore custom and off-the-shelf to help you make a more informed choice when introducing new digital offerings.
Microsoft Office and G Suite are good examples of COTS. Most businesses need to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, and the chances are they need very similar functionality (formatting, exporting, sharing, and so on). Off the Shelf solutions can be really effective solutions for day to day tasks and simple company structures.
But what happens when the business scales and the off the shelf software solutions struggle to keep up or the requirements and offerings that are unique to your business can't be pinned into a generic system? For software that either serves internal purpose for the business or is build built as a SAAS solution off the shelf custom software development is the only way to delivery a product with true scalability.
Simply put, custom software is any software created to meet the unique needs of a business in order to operate. Custom software enables businesses to meet their operational needs and maintain customer satisfaction while optimising security, scalability, and efficiency.
Off-the-shelf software is generally made as a one-size-fits-all solution for as many businesses as possible. But how many businesses are the same? Custom software is only set to grow in demand, and here’s why.
Why is custom software development important?
Custom software development allows businesses to actualise their objectives where it wouldn’t be possible with COTS or out-of-the-box software. When pre-existing software prevents you from performing certain actions, offering your complete portfolio of services, or bringing your customers or staff a level of quality reflective of your brand, your business will likely struggle to keep up.
Custom software is built specifically to perform the exact operations of your business as it grows and changes. Every function of a piece of custom software is built for your business, so you’re never without an important feature. There’s nothing extra taking up space or time, and you’re left with clean, smooth processes that cuts out the fat.
Bespoke Solutions for Unique Needs
You never know when a business might need custom software. Some businesses might only need small-scale and simple custom tools and platforms to carry out specific tasks that can be integrated alongside COTS. Some businesses have a greater need and may have whole systems and platforms developed on which their entire business functions, like MPS Data, a sports consultancy with cutting-edge analysis capabilities for scouting new players.
Here are some examples of industries where custom software is more commonplace.
Improved Efficiency and Productivity
In order to operate at maximum performance, a business must be able to provide and perform specific functions at all times. Repetitive tasks and processes can be automated and interlinked through custom workflows, resulting in significant cost savings and faster turnaround on projects and tasks. Real-time reporting, analysis, and insights gathering mean the business can continuously optimise its workflows and make more informed decisions.
Off-the-shelf software can, of course, provide similar functionality, but this will be a broad range of generic features and set capabilities (which may fall short of any specific needs). They will likely also require set-up to be tailored to any single business.
In a warehouse, for example, custom software can be built to incorporate barcode scanning, inventory tracking, unique stock promotions, and the generation of branded shipping labels to keep lead times to an absolute minimum and maximise production without requiring expansion of the workforce.
Oftentimes we find businesses have pre-existing systems, either custom-made or COTS, that they don’t want to stop using. A good custom software development agency can build software to integrate with these systems seamlessly to create highly efficient processes and workflows. When custom software is built to work alongside existing systems, the workforce can adapt more easily while costs are kept down overall, while using COTS could result in errors and duplication due to incompatibilities.
Another major reason businesses seek out custom software is the heightened level of security it offers them and their clients. Businesses in the finance, legal, and healthcare industries deal with sensitive data daily, a compromise of which could have devastating effects. But any business that manages digital transactions or collects customer data needs to be certain their processes are watertight.
Unlike large-scale, well-known COTS software, custom software is less likely to be a target for malicious behaviour because it is not commonly used and in the public eye. The unique process of creating custom software means any vulnerabilities are not easily discovered and exploited. That said, a business outsourcing custom software development should know its systems are robust enough to stand up to attacks if they happen.
Some of the ways custom software is built to be more secure are
Customisation: a custom software developer will build the software with an understanding of the intricate workings of the business. This means integrating it with pre-existing systems, firewalls, and security measures and responding to specific vulnerabilities in business operations.
Support: the developer who made the software thoroughly understands its workings; after all, they created it. This enables them to provide a level of support and maintenance unparalleled by developers who use off-the-shelf alternatives.
Adaptability: the versatility of a piece of custom software means it can be adapted, updated, and modified to meet the evolving needs of a business's security response. Rather than waiting for new releases and updates from COTS software, custom software can be proactive inline with business strategy.
Scalability and Investment
Cost is one of the first things on any business owner’s mind when it comes to acquiring new software of any kind, and a quote for custom software sounds like it’ll be on the high end of the price scale. In fact, quite a few factors make custom software a wise investment for start-ups and transforming businesses.
Investing in custom software means investing in a solution created specifically to meet the needs of one business, meaning it is customised and aligned with that business’s processes, objectives, limitations, requirements, and capabilities. Custom software can be made modular, expandable, and extendable. Updates can occur individually as the business adapts and grows, rather than overturning the entire system in one go or waiting for the next software update to be released. Not only does this save the business money, it means the systems organically adapt as the business and staff adapt to change simultaneously.
Successful custom software development is the foundation of so many business’s accomplishments. For custom software success stories, talk to Myth Digital.