Why Custom Software Development Is and Will Always Be a Strategic Business Advantage
One of the most important things to understand is that no two businesses are created in quite the same way.
If you carefully examined your closest competitor, you'd probably be looking at a very different organization from your own - this despite the fact that you're offering similar products and services to roughly the same target audience. Why, then, should you be forced to contend with a "one size fits all" approach to the software you use on a daily basis?
Along the same lines, business today is more competitive than it has ever been and as your organization continues to grow and evolve, you need to capitalize on any opportunities available to gain a strategic business advantage. You can't do that if you're forced to use the same resources that everyone else in the industry is.
That, in essence, is why custom software development is so important. One of the single best ways to improve overall efficiency - not to mention productivity - is through the development of custom software. Solutions that have been specifically tailored to your unique way of doing business. It's an investment, yes - but it's one that pays dividends in a wide range of different ways, all of which are worth exploring.
What is Custom Software Development
Whenever you are faced with making a decision about implementing software to improve the efficiency of your business, there are usually two main options that you can pick from.
The first is to purchase off-the-shelf software - something that isn't necessarily ideal for the reasons outlined above. The second involves building your own custom software to address your unique workflows and needs.
Custom software development brings with it the most long-term advantages that certainly outweigh any perceived short-term disadvantages. Off-the-shelf software may give you an immediate fix for some of your most pressing problems, for example, but it will be unable to address all of them simply because it was never designed to do that in the first place.
Custom software, on the other hand, is specifically designed for your company and all of the unique processes that have made it so successful up to this point.
Custom Business Software Development
Custom business software development usually begins by working with a professional business analyst to document your needs and processes in as much detail as possible. Think of this a bit like a blueprint for a house that has yet to be built. Once the analyst understands the way you work and the strengths that have given you a competitive edge, they can propose a solution that meets those needs in a more efficient way.
This usually involves a series of screen mockups to help illustrate what processes look like within the context of a web-based application. This also gives you the opportunity to see what the software will look like before any code is actually written, allowing you to make adjustments and request changes as necessary. This process is also analogous to sitting down with an architect, pouring over blueprints for your home and approving them before the builder starts the actual construction process.
Once that plan is in place and all parties have agreed on a direction, a development team can then map out their activities to build out software that satisfies all listed requirements. It's always essential to include the client as a part of this process, as the application needs to be guaranteed to meet the company's exact needs and to accommodate all of their requirements - even beyond those identified during the initial design phase.
Benefits of Custom Software
All told, custom software brings with it a host of unique advantages and opportunities over off-the-shelf software. These include but are certainly not limited to ones like:
- End up with a solution that better addresses your needs. Even if an off-the-shelf piece of software satisfies 70% of your needs, that last 30% could include some critical elements that are failing to provide your business with a competitive advantage. With custom software development, what you end up with is something that is built from the ground up with you and you alone in mind.
- Flexibility and efficiency. Custom software affords organizations maximum flexibility in deciding how you want an application to work and, most importantly, why you're making those decisions. Off-the-shelf applications are designed for the masses and therefore, they typically become something of a "Jack of all trades, master of none." This flexibility also leads to software that is far more efficient than anything you could ever find off-the-shelf.
- Automate daily routine tasks. Never forget that to achieve the maximum level of company efficiency, you need to automate as many of those routine, daily tasks as you can. This guarantees that your business processes are followed by every employee, no exceptions.
- Scalability. Given the fact that you are in complete control of the software development process, you alone have the ability to build scalability into the application from the start. This could include unlimited cloud processing power and storage, for example, if those things are important to you.
- Improving productivity. There are usually many processes that your company needs to not only complete, but do so in a specific order. Your workflow process can be standardized and built directly into the application, thus improving your productivity and consistency across the board.
Cost savings. While it may seem like an off-the-shelf application is more cost-effective in the short-term, over time this is almost never the case. An application that is specifically designed for your business will always give you greater efficiency gains and will be more cost-effective in terms of your overall return on investment.
- Integration with other applications. Another reason why custom software excels is because it can be effortlessly integrated with all of the other critical applications that your business depends on daily. Off-the-shelf software rarely offers this level of integration, again because it was never designed to work with a lot of the APIs (application program interfaces) that you're dealing with.
- Superior security. Custom software also helps make your organization more secure because hackers typically seek out platforms that are used by multiple companies. Not only that, custom software built using Microsoft ASP.NET and SQL Server is designed for security - meaning that they're more secure from the ground up.
- Improved user buy-in. One of the biggest problems with off-the-shelf software is that users often feel like it is being forced down their throat by management, not to mention that it comes with a steep learning curve. They're being forced to change the way they do things to make up for the limitations of the software, when really the software should make their jobs easier. With custom software solutions, users can be included in the development process so that their individual needs are being fully examined and addressed. This approach can ensure 100% buy-in before the development process has even taken place because all involved parties get their input into the eventual functionality of the solution. This also makes the go-live process smother because all stakeholders are already familiar with the new system.
- Gain a competitive advantage. It's safe to say that your company has become successful in large part because of the unique processes that you have in place. You should never change those processes just because some off-the-shelf software you purchased doesn't support them. Custom software development standardizes all of those processes, allowing you to improve them even further to give you a massive competitive advantage.
- Support and maintenance. Finally, the team that develops the application in question for you can offer not only ongoing support but a level of maintenance that is simply not available with an off-the-shelf application. As the needs of your company change because of your success, your software can grow too. That’s not possible with an off-the-shelf solution.
Custom Software Development Company
In the end, businesses need a relationship with a custom software development company in order to both create their applications and maintain them over time. Those partners should have the ability to develop applications using popular, robust software development tools such as Microsoft ASP.NET and SQL Server being two of the most prominent examples.
Support for these state-of-the-art solutions is key, all so that your business can gain all of the benefits of your investment with as few of the potential downsides as possible. Even going beyond that, the custom software development company you're working with needs to have the resources and the expertise to capture your unique needs - all in the name of mapping them into a plan to implement your custom software in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.
Using this information, you can now gain a better understanding of why custom software development is such a crucial strategic business advantage. It should also be clear why so many organizations are seeking a trusted partner to help them build their custom software and to help them grow with a strategic advantage in all of the varied markets they compete in. Your fiercest competitors have already figured out the Strategic Business Advantage of custom software. Are you ready to make the transition to more efficiency too?
To find out more information about our ASP.NET software development outsourcing capabilities, or if you’d like to discuss custom software development, speak with Keene Systems' CEO, Lance Keene click here to book a call with him. You can also download our eBook - Why ASP.NET Development Services Fuels Business Growth - to learn more about this essential topic.