11 Apr 2018

The Software You're Familiar with Isn't Always the Best Choice

The Software You're Familiar with Isn't Always the Best Choice

Author: Lance Keene  /  Categories: Off-the-shelf vs. Custom Software  / 

Regardless of the type of business you're currently running or even the industry that you're operating in, one thing is for sure: you've likely taken a great deal of care to make sure that all of your business systems and processes are designed to maximize employee efficiency and ultimately empower organizational profitability across the board. You've worked tirelessly to make sure that your business operations as they exist today are able to scale and evolve as your business grows tomorrow, next week and beyond.

So why, exactly, would you want to undo all of that by using an off-the-shelf software solution on a daily basis?

More often than not, businesses select individual software solutions based on whatever the decision maker at the time happens to be familiar with. They used spreadsheets at their previous job and got to know the ins and outs of something like Microsoft Excel and feel like they're "good enough to get the job done."

But is this solution "good enough to get the job done properly?" Probably not.

The Limitations of the "Good Enough" Approach to Software

One of the major arguments that is (seemingly) in favor of using a solution like spreadsheets as opposed to a custom alternative has to do with the idea that "everyone is familiar with them." Spreadsheets are a nearly ubiquitous part of our lives at this point - the majority of your employees have probably been using them since high school, if not earlier. Because they're (thought to be) so easy to learn and are already so widely used, there is likely little-to-no training required for deployment and little-to-no additional expenses on behalf of your company. At least, that's the theory.

The reality of the situation, however, is far different. The problem with this approach - which extends to any off-the-shelf solution - is that you don't know what you don't know. You and your employees don't understand the limitations of spreadsheets because you don't know anything else and you weren't trained to see them as limitations in the first place. You certainly don't understand the advantages that alternative solutions might bring to the table because you haven't really spent time researching them.

Something like a spreadsheet may be great for menial data entry and collection, but how is it supposed to help make managing operations easier? How is it supposed to give your business a competitive advantage if it's the same tool that everyone else is using? How is it supposed to help you grow or support your remote workforce? It can't and, sadly, it won't.

Custom software, on the other hand, will.

Not only does custom software deliver exactly what you need, but because it's written specifically for your organization it actually supports the way you need to work. Custom solutions are designed to empower specific tasks, processes and objectives in a much more specific way than an off-the-shelf solution could ever be.

Think about it like this: off-the-shelf software is fine for what it is, but in order to appeal to the widest possible audience it needs to do as many things in a straightforward way as possible. At that point, you're looking at a bit of a "Jack of all trades, master of none" situation. With custom software, you're finally armed with something that doesn't just "work adequately," but that works in a way that was designed to maximize the efficiency of your employees and optimize the profitability of your business.

Your business is going to continue to grow in both the short and long-term and your software needs to allow you to scale as it happens. An off-the-shelf solution, at best, will preserve the status quo. What you really need is something that will tear down the status quo and help you build something better, stronger and faster. Only custom software gives you that capability.


About the Author

Lance Keene, the founder of Keene Systems, has 40 years’ experience in custom software development. Over the course of his career he and his team have written software for companies such as Mack Trucks, Bayer, Calvin Klein, Hershey, IBM, Kimberly Clark, Lindt, Sara Lee, Pfizer, BAE, L'oreal, Ocean Spray, Dana Farber, Tootsie Rolls, Guiness, Texas Instruments, and CVS. (see full client list)

If you'd like to learn more about custom software alternatives to your current IT problems, you can speak one-on-one with Lance about your specific problem to see what's possible. Fill out our contact page or just book a call time in Lance’s online calendar: 


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