31 Jan What is Custom Software
is software that is very specifically developed for a company or organization. It is set apart from off the shelf software and free software, and is written for a very tight set of roles, expectations, and features that fit the company’s organizational and operational methods. While off the shelf or free software might do the job, custom software often gives a company the best operational value as it allows them to do business the way that they prefer, without large expenditures in reorganization or training.
What Is Custom Software Used For?
Companies use custom software to make certain areas of business easier to manage or more successful. These areas can include:
- Project Management
- File Management
- Employee & HR Portals
- Facility Management
- Resource Management
Custom software is usually a second or third step in the process of making a process extremely efficient, trainable and repeatable. We often go from pen and paper lists, to spreadsheets, and then to a free or off the shelf solution before taking the step towards a custom software solution.
Is Custom Software Really That Expensive?
The custom software development process can be expensive when compared to normal business expenditures, but there can very significant rewards attached to those expenses.
Off the shelf and free software very often require some customization to make them usable by a company for their intended purpose. This added expense is both money and time might be missed in planning for a business software purchase. It could take weeks before that off the shelf software is fully installed and functional, and even after paying for tweaks and customization it might not be a perfect fit.
You also have to consider the one time or monthly licensing fees that are charged by software companies for off the shelf software. Your company needs to do a full analysis of the costs of the software over time. After review, it often makes sense to develop a custom solution for your company instead of being on the hook every year for hundreds of thousands of dollars in licensing fees. As a quick example, if your company has 50 users for a CRM and the monthly license cost is $200 you are on the hook for the duration of use for $10,000 a month. If you can develop a custom solution for $50-60,000, it might mean extreme costs savings over time – even before you see the benefit of having software designed for your processes.
What Factors Influences The Choice To Use Custom Software?
When you get ready to make a decision about custom versus off the shelf or free software, you should weigh these factors.
Both on the cost and benefit side, finances need to be weighed to see how much benefit a custom project will potentially bring to your business. When you get into a large custom software project, there are always concerns about which of the three constants will flex the most – Project Scope, Time / Cost, or Quality.
A project should be very defined on the front end, and you should expect cost changes when changing or adding to the scope of a defined project midstream. Scope changes will often also increase the time to market/completion, and could reduce the quality of the project as the developer adds in features that were never intended in the original framework.
Supplier / Developer
With off-the-shelf , free, and custom software you need to ask the same questions when it comes to the developer/supplier.
- How long have they been around?
- Do they look like they will be around to support my software after purchase?
- Are custom development or upgrades outsourced or kept in-house?
- Do they have a defined support process and systems?
Time to Market
- When do you have to have the software ready to use for your team?
- Can you afford to wait for a custom development schedule?
Hopefully, this gives you a good idea of the three major divisions of software, and some ideas on how to weigh the best choice for your business or organization.
Custom software can often give huge benefits to your efficiency and profitability, and can often unlock processes and information that have previously been unavailable.
You just have to look at the three factors and make the best decision in that instance.