3 Steps to Knowing When Your Business Needs Custom Software

Improving efficiency should be a primary goal for every small business. There are many different methods companies can adopt to achieve this goal, but one of the most effective options is to customize software to conform to the mission, goals, and needs of the organization.

Application development is not necessary for every business—some companies find that out-of-the-box products are designed to fit their needs perfectly. However, for businesses whose needs demand something different than what is out in the market, software customization may be the best solution.

Getting rid of excess functions and adding certain program features to assist employees is an obvious decision for companies looking to capitalize on growth. If you are considering customized software for your company, check out these three steps to know when your business needs custom software:

Step#1: Evaluate your company's needs.

The very first step business owners should take when thinking about bringing in customized software is to assess the needs of their company and consider what specific functions you are looking for in a program.

Developing custom software is typically needed for the following situations:

  • When you are creating something truly innovative (an online shopping cart or CRM database may have been innovative in 2010, but not now)
  • If you are a software company building products or services for license or subscription
  • When you require software that gives your company a specific competitive advantage over other companies who use standard software
  • When the framework of traditional software is too complicated for your needs and you want a simple platform to avoid unnecessary overhead

Ask your employees what kinds of functions would make their job easier and increase efficiency, and then talk to your business partner or IT consultant about the changes you wish to make. They will be able to translate your needs into software solutions. Then, you can decide on how to proceed from there.

Step #2: Check the market to see if software already exists.

Starting from scratch by developing customized software is a time-consuming and expensive process. Resources that could go to roles like customer care, online marketing, or content management are instead spent on internal software development that the customer will never see.

That is why it is important to ask if custom software is the only option before you commit to building a program (or having one built) from the ground up. Many businesses are surprised to learn that other firms like them have already done the hard work by developing software. In these cases, it is a lot quicker and easier to use the framework of the existing software.

“Businesses often overestimate how different they are from other firms,” founder of Macnamara IT, Ciaran Kenny, explains. “As a rule, if they build something from scratch, they would be reinventing the wheel. It is incredibly time-consuming, expensive, and in reality they won't have the resources, even if it is outsourced.”

Customized software will always be the more complicated and costly option for businesses, which is why it is important to consult an IT technician who can scan the market for software with your desired functions. If the software exists, you will save lots of time and money.

Step #3: Investing in customized software.

There are numerous packages available to businesses that now make software customization easy—Microsoft Access, Adobe Photoshop, AutoCAD—but these programs can be negative in the future if not done correctly.

If software is not customized correctly, the program will be incapable of upgrading when the time comes, which quickly makes the software outdated and irrelevant.

Customized software can be instrumental in improving the efficiency and output of small businesses, but it should only be invested in if the functions you are looking for cannot be found elsewhere.

Contact an experienced Applications Developer at Innovative Architects today to schedule an in-depth assessment on your company's software needs.