As for now, it is impossible to imagine an efficiently functioning company or institution that would not use IT tools and solutions on a daily basis. Every aspect of the business can be improved through the use of appropriate software that increases operational efficiency, reduces costs, and increases customer and employee satisfaction.
However, choosing the right software is crucial – poorly selected tools can slow down work instead of improving it, often hampering the growth of the company. When deciding to use a new system, managers face a complicated choice – whether the best solution will be to purchase ready-made software or whether it will be better to develop a personalized tool in cooperation with a professional software house.
We have prepared this article for people facing such a choice. Get to know the main differences between the systems available for sale and custom software.
- What is custom software?
- What are the types of custom software?
- What is the difference between custom software and ready-made solutions?
- What are the main advantages of custom software?
- Where is custom software used?
- How to choose the best custom software developer for our needs?
- What does the process of creating custom software for our Clients look like?
What is custom software?
Simply put, custom software is any IT system based on the individual needs of the company, in a way that best suits its specific business profile.
When analyzing the business needs of our Clients, we often observe that even within the same industry, seemingly similar processes in each company can be executed in a completely different way. That is why ready-made software available on the market often does not meet the specific needs of the company.
When we decide to order custom software, we can be sure that we will be able to plan all its functionalities properly so that they perfectly match our business needs. This is not possible to such an extent in the case of ready-made products, which can only be adapted to the specific nature of the business at the implementation stage and only to a certain level.
What are the types of custom software?
There are no limits when it comes to designing custom software because a professional software house with the right competencies is able to develop any individualized system or application for the clients.
However, several types of software can be distinguished, which are most often created on individual customer orders:
- Content Management System (CMS) – content management systems on the website,
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – customer relationship management systems that improve contacts between company representatives and recipients of products or services,
- Enterprise Resource Planning System (ERP) – systems for managing resources and processes in every area of the company’s activity based on a single database,
- Project Management Software (PMS) – software that comprehensively supports project management,
- Business Process Management Software (BPMS) – systems for managing business processes, enabling their analysis, optimization, and automation.
At the same time, it is worth mentioning that the general concept of custom software includes both new systems created from scratch, as well as, to some extent, changes to the applications being sold, including (quoting after IPAW):
- modification of the source code of existing software to meet additional functional requirements of the ordering company,
- adding new modules that extend the standard functions of the software that is in the serial sale.
When looking for software houses and deciding to choose one of them, you need to remember that depending on the scope of the contract, in the case of custom software, the competencies that the software house selected by the customer will differ.
What is the difference between custom software and ready-made solutions?
When considering which software to choose, it is worth knowing the main differences between ready-made solutions available on the market and “tailor-made” custom software.
Often, the finished product option may seem more advantageous at first glance, for example in terms of price.
However, we know from experience that only an in-depth analysis of both solutions in the context of the company’s business needs allows us to assess the final scale of necessary investments, which allows us to make the best decision from the economic point of view.
The main differences between ready-made and custom software that we should pay attention to include:
|Custom software||Ready software|
|Costs||It requires more investments at the beginning, but it is often more economical in the long run because it does not generate additional costs, e.g. per-seat licenses, as the organization grows.||The initial purchase cost is lower, however, additional licensing fees may apply. Many ready-made solutions are available on a subscription basis, and implementation is also an additional cost, especially if we want to adapt the software to individual needs.|
|Functionalities||The functionalities are precisely defined by the client and matched to the actual needs of the organization, guaranteeing that all of them will be used by employees.||Many of the features are generic and designed to meet the needs of many companies in a given industry. For this reason, not all of them will be applicable in every organization and many will not meet the client’s exact expectations.|
|Scalability||High scalability and full development opportunities, tailored to the individual needs of the organization and the pace of changes.||Generally, limited scalability and software development possibilities are limited to those provided by the manufacturer.|
|Compatibility||Easy integration with other software used by the customer, regardless of its type, thanks to the appropriate design of a custom solution.||Compatibility with other software used in the organization is limited to integrations provided by the manufacturer, often not including older, legacy solutions.|
|Performance||Achieve high performance by carefully scheduling what functions to run and when.||Often, many unused features cannot be turned off completely and consume system resources.|
|Support availability||Custom support is provided by the software supplier in the scope agreed with the client.||Varied and dependent on the size and specificity of the manufacturer, it can include both basic support as well as online documentation or community support of other users.|
|Competitive advantage||The organization is the only functioning user that uses software with such functions, thanks to which, with proper planning, it can implement the same processes more efficiently, gaining an advantage over the competition.||Software with the same functions is used by many entities, without giving any of them an additional competitive advantage.|
As you can see, ready-made and immediately available software is intended to support standard and most common business processes in a given type of enterprise or industry. Therefore, it does not provide such flexibility as custom software, which can be adapted in every aspect to the individual needs of a specific company.
What are the main advantages of custom software?
Close cooperation between the client’s teams and the software supplier, both at the stage of analysis, as well as during work on a custom solution, makes you sure that it will exactly meet the individual needs of the ordering company.
The supplier creating custom software can use exactly those functions, modules, and integrations that will be the most useful and optimal from the recipient’s point of view.
However, these are not the only advantages of custom software that are worth considering when ordering a product. We draw our clients’ attention to several other aspects that are also worth remembering:
- The ownership of the software is in the client’s hands – our organization is not dependent on the manufacturer, which theoretically can terminate its operations at any time, putting users in a difficult situation.
- The ordering company decides in which direction and when the software is to be developed – in the case of ready-made programs, producers react differently to changes in the industry. For example, they can be forced by changes in regulations, which may affect the efficiency of the company’s operation. This problem does not appear in the case of custom software, where it depends on the customer how quickly and with what functionalities it will be enriched.
- Custom software provides a greater increase in productivity compared to other solutions – with any software implementation, one of the main goals is to increase efficiency. The undoubted advantage of custom software is the greater scale of benefits achieved, which is possible through the full understanding of the company’s operations and the adjustment of the created software to it. Better adaptation to the implemented processes increases the productivity not only of individual employees but also of the company as a whole.
- The ordering company has a greater impact than in the case of boxed solutions on the level of satisfaction of its customers by personalizing custom software. According to the statistics provided by the research company McKinsey, as many as 71% of consumers expect companies to interact with personalized tools, and 76% are frustrated by the lack of such an opportunity. By creating a new, custom product, we have the opportunity to take care of the user experience at the right level from the very beginning.
- Custom software is safer from the customer’s perspective. In the case of publicly available solutions used by many companies, the source code is known to more people and therefore more vulnerable to attacks. By creating custom-made software, we can guarantee our clients the highest level of data security.
As you can see, when planning a choice between buying ready-made software and ordering a “tailor-made” solution, it is worth considering more aspects than just economic factors.
Where is custom software used?
It is true that the size of the ordering company is not a limitation when developing custom software, but we know from experience that medium and large companies more often choose personalized solutions, while in the case of small entities, the choice falls rather on software available “off the shelf”.
The scale of dependence between the size of the company and the number of custom applications it uses is well illustrated by a survey conducted by McAfee:
More than half of these applications (56.8%) are used internally by employees, while 36.2% are used by customers, partners, and suppliers.
What are the characteristics of companies choosing custom software? First of all, the need for non-standard, personalized functions, as well as:
- a large range of products or services,
- systematically growing the number of contractors or orders,
- the need to support non-standard operations,
- the need to use numerous external systems that need to be integrated,
- the need to systematically improve the software to adapt it to changes taking place in the organization.
If your company meets the criteria described above, it can be assumed with a high degree of probability that it will benefit more from ordering custom software than buying a ready-made, “boxed” product.
We invite you to contact our consultants who will tell you how to achieve maximum benefits from investing in custom software.
How to choose the best custom software developer for our needs?
The decision to choose a specific custom software development company should be made consciously, based on a thorough analysis of the offer and the extent to which the software house meets the expectations of the customer.
Many companies anticipate that further support and development of the custom software will be outsourced to the supplier, which usually means the beginning of many years of tight cooperation between the software house and the client.
For this reason, it is so important to pay attention to several key aspects of the potential supplier’s offer:
- Understanding the goals of the project and the time frame – in this aspect, a good agreement between the client and the software house is particularly important. The first information that the company will receive about the offer, even before a more detailed analysis, will be based on the data provided by the customer. From the client’s point of view, at this stage, it will be important to make sure that the software house has received the necessary information about the goals and functions of the software. By doing so, the customer will receive more comprehensive information from the very beginning. Contact with the software house will also allow you to assess another important aspect, related to communication abilities.
- Communication skills of team members – development of custom software is a complicated process that requires the exchange of information, ideas, and discussion about various ideas or problems that may arise during the work on the software. For this reason, the client should make sure that the style in which the software house communicates meets his expectations, because it will have a direct impact on the comfort of further cooperation.
- The supplier’s experience is based on previous implementations – this will allow the client to assess the level of competence of the supplier in the context of knowledge of the sector in which the ordering company operates. By analyzing the information provided by the supplier, it is possible to know how prepared the supplier is to implement a project of a specific nature and scale that is important for the client. At the same time, it is worth remembering that not all information on completed projects can be published on the supplier’s website due to the confidentiality clauses in force. In this case, however, it should be possible to obtain at least general information about the scope of the project.
- Being ready to engage as a partner supporting the project, not just a contractor – expert competence in the required technologies is necessary to develop custom software, but it does not guarantee that it will be a perfect product. A software house should really want to understand the client’s business needs and goals, actively engaging in their clarification. The willingness to define the requirements for the software based on the client’s business and an in-depth analysis of his needs and limitations is what should be expected from a professional supplier.
- Openness and flexibility in the selection of contact pricing models – it is definitely worth spending time on finding a supplier who will be willing to adapt the project pricing model to the customer. In the case of many entities, the option to choose a contract in the Fixed Price model, which is avoided by some software houses, may be an advantage. The customer should pay attention to the legibility of the presentation of costs and the elements affecting them so that he can choose the best solution for himself.
- Approach to project management – from the customer’s point of view, it is extremely important for the supplier to communicate with him at every stage of project implementation, thanks to which the created solution will meet the expectations of the customer. It is worth checking whether the software house works based on agile project management methodologies (e.g. Scrum).
- Care for the security of sensitive information – establishing cooperation with a software house means the inevitable flow of confidential data regarding, for example, the idea of the project, the rules of the company’s operation, selected operating procedures, etc. The client should be aware of how the security of this data will be guaranteed by the supplier.
- Defined organizational structure – contrary to appearances, it is not difficult to find a software house operating without a formal team structure, which is important for the client due to the dynamics of work. In companies where team members have clearly defined roles and responsibilities, work on projects is carried out more efficiently.
- Clear rules regarding project support at a later stage – before deciding to establish cooperation with a supplier of custom software, the customer should know how, for how long, and on what terms the supplier will provide support and system maintenance services. When deciding to order “tailor-made” software, you need to remember to specify this aspect of the offer as well.
Each software house is different, so it is possible to find one that will perfectly match the specifics of the project and the client’s requirements, not only in terms of technical competence but also in organizational culture and friendly project management methodology.
If you would like to know more about how to find the best custom software development company, you should have a look at other articles on our blog – How to choose the best software house for your project? Complete guide, important criteria, and useful tips – part 1 and part 2.
It is worth taking the time to get to know the specifics of the future partner’s operation. By doing so, customers can choose the supplier that is a perfect match for their expectations.
What does the process of creating custom software for our Clients look like?
For many years, we have been working on numerous projects, gathered unique experiences, and were able to refine the process of creating custom software. We perfectly understand how important an individual approach is, which is why we thoroughly get to know the client and his business, analyze the needs and choose the right solution that meets his requirements.
The individual stages of creating custom software include:
1. Business needs analysis
Before proceeding with the actual construction of the software, we need to know the conditions and business needs of our client in order to take into account what modules and functionalities should be included. Thanks to precise analysis, we can guarantee that the created software will increase productivity and streamline the execution of business processes.
2. Specification outline and planning
At this stage, we create the project specification and define the scope of skills necessary for its implementation, the execution time, and the number of team members. These are the basis for developing the budget.
Thanks to close cooperation with the client, we are sure that the software will be best suited to the actual needs of the company.
After clarifying all technical and organizational issues, we proceed to the software design phase. We create the concept and architecture of the software, plan detailed functionalities, and the way the application works.
As a result, project documentation is created, which is the basis for further work.
4. Software development
At this stage, our programmers start working, creating software based on the design. We work in close cooperation with the client to make sure that not only do they know how the work on the product is progressing, but also has a real impact on its final shape.
5. Tests and implementation
The created software is tested to identify and remove any errors, and to make sure that it contains all the necessary functionalities. Depending on the requirements, these can be functional tests, integration tests of the entire software, security tests, performance tests, etc.
Stable and fully functional software is then transferred to the customer, along with the necessary training.
6. Support and maintenance
At a later stage, when the software is already operational, we provide support and maintenance services to our clients, monitor the correct operations, and eliminate emerging defects, as well as provide services related to the further development of the software.
To ensure that our clients receive precisely the solution they need, we focus on close cooperation at every stage of software development, being a partner who cares about the success of the project, not just a contractor. By implementing such an approach to our workflow, we are able to establish strong and long-term relationships with our clients.
Contact our consultants – they will help you achieve maximum benefits from investing in custom software!
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