To build, or not to build? That is the question.
The business advantages of custom software development can be significant—whether you build the software yourself or have it tailor-made for you.
Bespoke software fulfills all your business needs, for one thing. You don’t have to sacrifice functionality or piece together off-the-shelf solutions to meet all your requirements.
Custom software keeps long-term costs lower, makes long-term maintenance easier, and usually offers more scalability than commercial software packages. You gain better protection from hackers, as well.
But custom software development has its challenges. It’s not as simple as buying a pre-built solution.
So do you need tailor-made software for your business?
A few reasons businesses opt to follow the bespoke path include:
- Your current software solution is slow, inefficient, or no longer meets your needs
- Annual software licensing fees strain your budget
- You lag behind your competition more and more each day
- You want to cut costs and increase revenue
- Your business struggles to grow due to software constraints
How can custom software development help you overcome these obstacles?
Let’s look at six business advantages you can gain from custom software development.
1. Tailored to Your Needs
The first advantage is rather obvious: it’s customized to your business.
It has all the features and functionality that you need. Nothing’s missing.
Off-the-shelf solutions only include features that appeal to a wide range of users. Some of those features may be useful to you, and others may not.
More importantly, commercial software providers build solutions to address common business problems, which means they may not include the features your particular business needs.
Custom software is built from the ground up to address your business needs—every feature, every function, every interface. And there are unnecessary features included, so in the words of a certain insurance company, “you only pay for what you need.”
2. Lower Cost Over Time
You may pay a lower initial cost for ready-made software solutions vs. building a custom solution. However, what adds up over time are recurring monthly or annual fees for software licenses, seat licenses, and so on.
If you need a long-term solution, you may discover that ready-made software can cost far more than you anticipated over time. You could try lowering that cost by purchasing fewer user licenses, but that can end up costing you, too.
Let’s say you need an ERP solution, for example. You find a commercial ERP provider that meets your needs, but they charge substantial per-user fees—annually recurring. So you buy fewer user licenses than you need, thinking that not every user will be in the system simultaneously. However, once implemented, you find that users often forget to log off when they finish their work, preventing other users from logging in. The cost of the resulting inefficiencies drives the “cheaper” ready-made solution’s price even higher.
Bespoke software development costs more upfront, but you end up owning the software. No recurring fees, no buying additional seat licenses as you grow.
3. Easier Maintenance and Support
When you buy a commercial solution, you usually get maintenance and updates to the product for a few years. Eventually, though, the provider will stop supporting your version of the product in order to focus those resources on newer versions.
And when you have a problem with the product, getting support can involve several phone calls, emails, and live chats to resolve that problem. And again, once your version is sunsetted, that support ends.
Because someone else owns the software, there’s not much you can do about it if the provider decides to end maintenance—or worse, goes out of business. You’re left to find support from a third party or migrate to a new software solution.
By having your own solution built, you bring maintenance and support in-house. At worst, you have to contact the software development company that created it for you for fixes or upgrades.
Custom software development gives you complete control over the product for as long as you use it.
4. Easier Scalability
You know your business. Not only are you aware of your current needs, but you have a good idea of how your business will grow and what it will need in the future.
When you communicate that knowledge to your development team, they can build in better scalability from the start.
Scalability is critical to growth. The more users you gain, the greater the volume of data. If your software isn’t easily scalable, it can bog down under the load or even crash.
5. You Own It
We’ve already touched on this above, but it’s a major advantage to own the software you use.
When you buy ready-made software, you usually pay monthly or yearly fees to keep using it. Often, these fees are per user (often referred to as “seat licenses”), so adding users means increasing the cost.
You also have to abide by the provider’s rules, agree to their disclaimers, and so on. Have offices around the world or plan to someday? Some software makers limit the use of their products to the US or North America.
And when you decide to switch to another software product? Good luck. Most providers make it painful to migrate your data. Your new provider might help you make a move, but if they do, you can be sure they’ll charge you for it.
When you build your own custom software in-house or with a software development company, you avoid all of the above.
You own it. It’s yours. Forever.
You can add as many users as you want. Use it anywhere in the world you want.
Another thing to consider is how often you’ll use the software. If it’s something you only need to use once or twice a year—or for a specific, one-time use—it may not make sense to pay the license fees. Instead, building your own application may be cheaper.
6. Better Cybersecurity
Better security is another of the significant advantages of custom software development over commercial solutions.
No software is 100 percent secure. With time and persistence, hackers can breach just about any software package—commercial or custom.
So what makes bespoke software more secure? The fact that it’s a small target.
Hackers try to break into commercial software solutions because they know the potential payoff is bigger—millions of users’ private data spread across every business that purchased the breached software.
Your tailor-made software is small potatoes by comparison. Cyberthieves are less likely to spend the time and effort cracking your code because the risks and penalties are just as great, but the rewards are far smaller.
Hackers only attack custom software when they specifically target a company—usually in the name of a cause or movement.
Custom software also has the advantage of being new to hackers. They’re familiar with commercial solutions and know the weaknesses to exploit. But with tailor-made software, they have to start from scratch.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t harden your software as much as possible. You don’t want to be an easy target. With strong cybersecurity measures and the advantage of being custom-built, you stand a better chance against attacks.
Although custom software development has these and other advantages, it has challenges, as well.
A lack of the necessary technical knowledge hinders many businesses that want to develop their own solutions. This is especially true if you’re going to strike out in a new direction. Your internal team may have a wealth of experience supporting the software you’ve been using but no experience with new technologies.
Even if your team has the experience, they may not have the bandwidth. Finding the time to devote to new software development can challenge any business, but it considerably impacts small businesses and startups.
You can resolve knowledge gaps or bandwidth issues by hiring the talent you need, but that involves finding the right people and getting them up to speed. It also eats up more of your budget. However, if it’s a long-term solution that you’ll need the extra team to support, hiring may make sense.
But hiring can be a challenge when the budget is already strained or you’re crunched for time. It also may not make sense to hire if it’s a one-off project that you won’t use again—an app for short-term marketing promotion, for example.
If you find yourself up against any of these challenges, consider outsourcing the work to a custom software development company. Partnering with a third-party developer solves both bandwidth and time issues and can be more cost-effective than hiring more staff. And you still get all the benefits that custom software delivers.
To learn more about outsourced custom software development, give Taazaa a buzz! We deliver fresh thinking and engineering on every project, and you’ll love working with our experienced team.