As a business leader, nearly every decision you're making on a daily basis has both a short-term and a long-term effect. The short-term effect involves how a particular move or action helps address the challenge that you're facing today. The long-term effect, at least in theory, involves how that action better positions your organization to achieve the level of strategic growth necessary to solve the problems of tomorrow and beyond.
Or at least, that's the way it should be.
The fact of the matter is that far too many business professionals are still making the same mistake: they don't look at software purchases as strategic investments, especially those apps designed to help with very tactical, day-to-day tasks. They view software through the lens of helping with a single, specific task - be it data collection, analytics, information processing or something similar.
But the right software IS strategic. It's not a low-cost purchase - it's an important investment that, when executed properly, can absolutely drive the type of business growth you need when you need it the most. In reality, software should absolutely be a strategic purchase for a wide range of different reasons that are more than worth exploring.
The Power of Custom Software
Simply put, software is every bit as important of an investment as the rest of your organization - from the employees you hire to the strategies you develop to absolutely every element in between. An application is more than just a piece of technology - it's a way to help make sure that your technology is properly aligned with the business objectives you're working hard to accomplish.
Think about it like this: software can and should help an organization like yours increase efficiency, both in terms of how easy it is for individual employees to get their jobs done and in a much broader sense. It should help your entire business get things done faster, which in turn allows you to get more done than ever. It's not simply about increasing productivity. Productivity gains give way to profitability gains, which in turn give way to increase customer satisfaction and more.
If a particular piece of software isn't doing these things, your organization and your employees are likely "spinning their wheels" in a sense. They're certainly not moving forward. This type of software wasn't a strategic purchase and, to be frank, probably shouldn't have been a purchase at all.
Unfortunately, there is a huge amount of software available in the market today that isn't strategic because it was never built to be. It was designed to perform a single function and that's where it's story begins and ends. A lot of off-the-shelf software, particularly productivity apps like spreadsheet tools, can be described this way.
Custom software, on the other hand, is nearly always strategic because it's built with your business and your goals in mind. It doesn't have to appeal to the widest possible audience and, because of that, can be geared towards your challenges and your problems and your solutions.
Custom software is also a great way to give yourself a competitive advantage almost instantly. If you and your biggest competitor are using the same piece of off-the-shelf software, you're essentially on even ground. You're using the same tools and you're probably doing the same things with them. When you invest in software customization, on the other hand, suddenly you have access to an invaluable tool that your competitors never will. As a result, you can use it to do things every day that those rivals never even dreamed of.
Tomorrow's Growth Begins With Today's Strategy
Yes, custom software is more expensive than buying something off-the-shelf - but as the old saying goes, "you absolutely get what you pay for."
All of your business operations need to be able to scale as your business (and even your industry) continues to grow and evolve over the next few years. Continuing to view software purchases as a "necessary evil" or as "a way to solve a single problem" isn't going to help you get that done. Only by investing in the deep level of customization that is now available to you will you be able to take advantage of a solution that doesn't just help preserve your business' status quo, but that drives the type of strategic growth you need to make the most of the coming years.