Buying an off-the-shelf software product without doing your homework can come back to haunt you when your business expands and its needs become more sophisticated. As an experienced application development company, we get approached often by companies that aren’t entirely sure whether or not they even need custom software development. They realize that they may have a problem, but aren’t sure what the best solutions are. If you are finding yourself in this situation, the 8 signs below will help you decide whether you should consider custom software or just find a work around with an off-the-shelf product.
1) Current Software Has Limitations or Does Not Meet Specifications
This is one of the most common reasons why people contact us. They are using an off the shelf application or are considering buying a new application that simply does not have all of the functionality that they are looking for. There is either some tool or new functionality that needs to get implemented, or the software cannot easily cope with the increasing workloads that are being put on it.
2) Business Process or Application Requirements Change
Business processes evolve and change. Your customer base or product mix changes, you find more efficient ways to get things done or you see a way to cut a whole set of steps with automation. In these situations, you are essentially looking at streamlining your current processes. Often times you won’t know exactly how to do this with your existing software, and a custom application is necessary.
3) Integration with Current Systems
Sometimes redundancies emerge simply because the current software that is being used doesn’t play nicely with other key applications. When you are entering the same information into multiple applications, or accessing multiple applications to put together a report, it is time for a custom integration solution.
4) Better Reporting and Analytics
Raw data is nice, but actionable information is what you need to grow your business. A good custom software development company finds ways to simplify reporting and offer better information for decision-making.
5) Own Your Investment in Application Software
Why pay monthly or annual license fees for off the shelf software? When you get a custom application built, you own all the rights to the software and it is yours to keep forever. After you have the software, you can hire a developer to make changes/upgrades as needed and are even able to sell the software to other companies, should you desire.
6) Outdated Technologies
This is an obvious one. As software ages, it becomes more difficult to find someone with the skills to support it. We still run into code written in COBOL or optimized for RPG. This is one of those situations where it is time to “bite the bullet” and upgrade to current environments. Outdated web applications can also be an issue since they don’t always work well with current web browsers, resulting in a loss of functionality.
7) You Need a Competitive Edge
This is one of our favorite reasons. We love working with companies who want to use custom software development to gain an edge on their competitors. They are looking for ways to increase overall efficiency or create better experiences for their customers.
8) Ease of Use Issues
Sometimes current software has the functionality and speed that a business requires, but it is simply too confusing and hard to use. In these cases, the solution is to have a developer create a better user experience that is tailored to the business’s unique needs.
This blog post is written by David Lason, CTO at Custom Software Lab.