Custom software: the competitive advantage?
Competition between businesses is stronger and the pace of change faster than ever before. From the small start up to the established enterprise each business seeks a competitive advantage relative to their competitors. Your business is a dynamic, evolving entity but most importantly it is unique. It is this uniqueness that sets it apart from the competition. Why not apply the same ethos to the software solutions that drive your business.
Software solutions, broadly speaking can be broken down into two categories, ‘off-the-shelf’ or ‘custom built’. Off-the-shelf solutions can offer a cost effective answer to many businesses’ operational needs and require no upfront development. These solutions are generally proven so why consider a custom built software solution?
If everybody is using the same off-the-shelf application it is likely their business processes are conforming to a similar standard and it will probably prove difficult to outperform them. By developing a custom built solution you can ensure your offering is tailor made to best serve your customers and your business needs.
Custom software can reflect your business processes rather than having to ‘shoe horn’ them into an off-the-shelf solution which has been designed to appeal to the masses. You determine what features are included thus avoiding unnecessary complexity and the associated efficiency losses.
Change can be effected quickly and precisely with a custom built software solution especially minor updates. Compare this to an off-the-shelf solution which is likely to have a pre determined roadmap designed for broad appeal and that is unlikely to take into account your unique requirements.
Custom built software solutions were once the preserve of large Enterprise organisations with large development teams or budgets. Today with the advent of Rapid Application Development tools, robust and flexible application frameworks and a plethora of online resources, the cost of developing custom built solutions has reduced significantly. It is not uncommon for applications to be developed within days/weeks as opposed to months/years. There is also an increase in availability of Build Your Own Application tools that offer development prospects to the non-technical user.
Custom built software is not without it’s pitfalls and there is a good chance that somebody out there has already built an off the shelf solution that might fit your needs. It goes without saying that the bottom line is important but don’t ignore the positive effects a properly developed software solution can have on your employees and your customers.