In almost any industry, individuals enjoy when there is an element of personalization for a product or service. Within information technology, that sentiment is no different. And to meet that desire, there is custom software development.
Customized solutions can be more efficient and flexible for your needs. This will affect your business positively in the long run. In spite of the high initial costs, custom software development is a long-term investment that almost always pays off in the end.
You’ll learn more about custom software development and how it can help your business in this piece.
What Is Custom Software Development?
Custom software development is the process of designing software applications that meet the specific needs of an individual or a company. Unlike commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software, custom options are usually targeting specific problems. They are also meant for in-house use, not resale.
An example of a COTS software would be software like Microsoft Office. In contrast, an app that records a patient’s documents and visits for a local clinic would be an example of custom software.
Bespoke software is another name for custom software. It is derived from old English with roots in the tailoring trade. Bespoke or custom software is built in very much the same way as any traditional software would be made.
But although the methodologies may be similar, in custom software development, there are often focused and unique efforts when it comes to application customization, modernization, or management.
To better understand this terminology, note the following definitions:
- application modernization – the practice of taking existing technology and upgrading or updating it to modern standards
- application customization – in reference to custom software development, the notion of modifying COTS applications towards individual needs
- application management – optimizing software to support tasks such as installing, updating, and other service desk functions related to maintenance
When Should Companies Build Custom Software?
Every company needs software. High-performing technology is the driver of businecess success.
But custom software goes a tad further than your traditional out-of-the-box software solution.
Because of this, there are additional benefits, such as:
- Return on investment (ROI)
Naturally, custom software is efficient because it is specifically designed to support your business.
You also get the independence that comes with self-managing your own product, so you don’t have to deal with outside vendors.
Financially speaking, the initial investment might look big. However, businesses tend to save money in the long run, particularly since there are lower integration costs.
With custom software, you can be sure everything is compatible with your existing software infrastructure.
Businesses can also utilize custom software to scale their companies and get a greater ROI than otherwise.
Since building custom software means addressing your unique needs, whether that be special features or added functionality, there is no question your company will grow as a result.
3 Custom Software Development Methodologies
Like most things, software development isn’t one size fits all. There are a few different ways to develop a software product, some more preferred than others.
1. Waterfall Model
The waterfall model is a linear mode of development. In this model, engineers take the product from idea to deployment in a sequential order.
While this might seem practical to the untrained eye, in real life, this is not exactly how software development works.
When it comes to building a product of any kind, consumers are an essential part of the deal.
Not to mention, unforeseen circumstances don’t always bode well with strict budgets and time constraints.
In other words, while the waterfall model may seem practical, for most software development companies, it is too rigid to work with the modern needs of development.
2. Agile Development
Agile Development came about via the Manifesto for Agile Software Development.
The principles underlying Agile manifesto emphasize the importance of customer feedback and adaptability.
In doing this, they de-prioritize the need for comprehensive documentation in turn for prioritizing working software.
Likewise, Agile’s focus on individuals and interactions means responding to change takes precedent versus concrete plans.
Overall, Agile development is a modern spin on software development that reflects constructively on what does and doesn’t work when it comes to building software.
Scrum is an Agile framework. The framework utilizes the defining principles of Agile but provides a specific structure for development.
One of the biggest components of the Scrum framework is sprints. A sprint is a unit of development in Scrum, denoting an agreed upon length of time to complete certain tasks.
In sprint planning, scum development teams determine a sprint goal and evaluate product backlog items that further said goal.
Scrum development teams also have scrum masters who guide development, sprint reviews for checking progress and taking feedback, as well as sprint retrospectives for identifying improvements for following sprints.
5 Advantages of Custom Software Development
Deciding whether or not you need custom software developed for your business can be rather difficult. Below are five ways that your business can benefit from investing in a customized solution.
1. Targeted Solutions
Probably the most important reason to invest in custom software development is to develop a product that addresses your exact needs. It is not unusual for businesses to choose an off-the-shelf software option just to realize that it is unsuitable for them.
Every business is unique and it is hard to find a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to software. Choosing to work with tailored products not only gives space to grow, but it also means you are serious about your company’s success.
2. Greater Scalability
As your business grows, so do your needs. Purchasing an off-the-shelf software solution will become a problem once it is not able to support your business or becomes too expensive to license.
Off-the-shelf solutions may be a better fit for small companies in their startup phase of the business cycle. When operations are not yet stable, the focus is on making the company viable.
Developing a solution that is able to grow and scale your business processes is a savvy choice. You don’t want your capacity for growth to be limited by mere software. If you can afford the investment, it will be worth it.
3. Software Integration
Using custom software development, you can integrate your new software with already existing software to refine business processes. COTS software may lead to errors and as a result, a loss in productivity.
Custom software mitigates the chance of integration issues and can easily fit within any business’s software ecosystem.
4. Hardware Costs
Licensing off-the-shelf software often means having to purchase additional hardware for it to run efficiently. This can sometimes lead to a pretty big bill at the end of the day.
With tailor-made software, current hardware capabilities are taken into consideration, helping you save money and avoid extra costs. Custom software is developed in a way that supports your business so you’re not forced to adapt to what’s available.
The development and integration of custom software should consider every aspect of your business in order to make implementing the software as seamless as possible.
5. Increased Reliability
When you are purchasing off-the-shelf software, you are dependent on the company that has developed it. The pricing, terms and conditions, and future of the business, are all out of your hands.
If that company suddenly goes bankrupt or stops updating the product, you will have a nerve-racking and limited time to find a new software provider.
With custom software, you can use it as long as you like and the way you like. Of course, there are maintenance costs to consider. But overall, you’ll have far less to worry about.
Custom Software vs. Off-the-Shelf: Side-by-Side Comparison
Not sure if custom software is right for you? Here, you’ll see a side-by-side comparison comparing the pros and cons of custom software versus off-the-shelf software.
While off-the-shelf software isn’t made to be unique, this makes it easier to get done. This is why it’s called off-the-shelf in the first place. When you see products on the shelves of your local store, you likely see several copies of the same product because they’re mass-produced at record speed.
Adding bells and whistles will almost always hike up costs, whether that’s extra pickles on your burger or a modification for custom software. For that reason, using COTS software will be decidedly budget-friendly.
Custom software is designed to meet specific challenges for a particular business’s or individual’s needs. In effect, the software never fails to meet requirements and is altered to scale with you and/or your business.
Because custom software is built towards specificity and there’s only a limited amount of the software, you won’t get the chance to check a million or so reviews of the product before purchasing.
A million might be a bit of an exaggeration. But for most people, there is quite a bit of relief when several people just like themselves have reviewed a product and rated it positively.
Further, as the product does not have wide accessibility, there won’t be a community when you ever want to discuss or ask questions about your custom software. In these cases at least, COTS software offers more community.
Custom software can give you a competitive advantage in the market. Once you spot how to refine your business by modernizing or customizing as necessary, custom software can help you stand out against your competitors.
How To Create Custom Software
Actually creating custom software is a complicated process. While you can look through the basic steps down below, keep in mind that in practice these steps are far more expansive than they may first appear.
1. Identify Pain Points
The first step in almost any process is awareness. You need to be aware of what your consumers or your business needs so you can address that problem directly with custom software.
This can be as simple as a way for users to access their client information easily. Or it can be something more complex, like an accounting application for all your specific transactions.
2. Brainstorm Solutions
You can then brainstorm with a dedicated team solutions to the problem you’ve just identified. This might look like a list of needs and wants or a more distinctive feature such as a customer dashboard.
3. Define Goals
Your business can center your goal around measurable feats of success like lead generation or scalability. Of course, once you’ve defined your goals, you have to accept the challenge of meeting them.
4. Research Development Needs
Now you have to decide how exactly the project is going to get done. If you have your own software development team, then you might be better off than a lot of other businesses.
Otherwise, you can choose to outsource a software development team that is prepared to meet your needs. They will review your proposal and communicate with you about the project as it is developed in real-time.
5. Create the Final Product
After you’ve chosen how you’re going to build your custom software, it’s time to start developing. But first, you need to allocate quite a bit of time to planning and designing the software product before any code is written.
Having done that, you can finally get to business. Build, deploy, and refine.
How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Custom Software?
The price of custom software development will vary greatly depending on what you have built. A number of factors will influence the final cost of your custom software like:
- software size
- data migration
- integration with other software
Given that range, custom software can add up to between $2000 and $250,000.
5 Best Practices for Custom Software Development
You already know how to go about building custom software. But there are some guidelines you should consider in order to make sure that your software is being developed in a practical way to optimal standards.
1. Define the Requirements
Defining requirements is probably a given. However, it’s important to make sure you’re clear in communicating what you want so it cannot be misinterpreted further down the line.
2. Plan and Set Milestones
Specify a roadmap for the development cycle of your software. This will highlight key parts of your project such as initiatives, deliverables, roles and responsibilities, cost, and value.
3. Perform Tests
Performing tests frequently insures that everything is working in proper order. This should have not only a technical focus, but your IT team should pay particular attention to how the user experience feels as well.
4. Document the Process
Documentation is pretty much a universal best practice in every field. Each stage of the process should be recorded in detail from testing to deployment and beyond. Ignorance of how and why the software works can never be an excuse.
5. Hire the Right Team to Develop Your Product
Even if you do have an in-house team, it’s important that your developers have the expertise necessary to develop potentially complex custom software. If not, you could risk the integrity of both the product and your business.
It’s not a bad idea to look for developers outside your own team for a specific project like custom software. Look for a specialist in the technology you’re building.
How To Outsource Custom Software Development Projects
Internal teams are not always readily equipped to build custom software. When this is the case, external resources come in extremely handy.
One such external resource is a software development partner, an outsourced team of dedicated engineers ready to make your dreams come true at a reasonable price.
Why Outsource Custom Software Development Projects?
Companies choose to outsource their development needs for many reasons. Oftentimes, choosing to outsource software projects comes down to:
- cost reduction
- risk reduction
- quicker integration
In other words, companies outsource their development to save money while gaining the flexibility to scale faster.
The flexibility offered is due to the speedy staff augmentation that outsourcing offers.
In other words, you can grow your team in a matter of days rather than months by talking to the right partners and communicating your objectives.
Lastly, outsourcing partners guarantee that your company has access to qualified, expert developers who will ensure your project gets done on time with a polished finish.
How To Choose The Best Custom Software Development Outsourcing Partner
When it comes to choosing outsourcing partners, finding a good fit for your custom software development needs is no easy task.
Thankfully, there is a rubric for this sort of thing.
- Understand your needs. Before looking for an outsourcing agency, you should have a fairly good idea of what exactly you’re looking for, so you can communicate your needs in detail with your software development partner.
- Gather intel about different partners. Now that you know what you need, it’s time to start looking for qualified partners who meet your requirements.
Check that your prospective partners have the technical expertise necessary to complete your software project. Likewise, you’ll want to look into the provider’s reputation via references.
- Clarify the terms of agreement. Once you narrow down your choices, don’t neglect to review any contracts you’re meant to be signing.
Often security concerns, such as how much access your partner has to sensitive business information, are outlined in small print.
You should also find out whether maintenance of the software is implied or offered through the service provider.
- Start developing. You’ve covered all your based. It’s time to see your project to completion with a trusted software development partner!
Custom software development is a clever way for businesses to scale and solve problems in more direct ways. It is costly, but nevertheless effective.
Businesses who need custom software should pinpoint their trouble areas and design a plan for tackling them with a development team on hand!
At Trio, we can help you address your unique business needs with custom software developed for your company.
When Trio looks for developers, they ask a number of questions that go beyond just being good at coding. These questions might look like:
- “Can this person communicate well?”
- “Can this person work well remotely?”
- “Does this person have self-management skills?”
Essentially, when Trio sources developers they look for something special, and Trio is keen on spotting signs that our potential hires carry these characteristics.
On the technical side, Trio leaders watch candidates code so they can analyze how they approach problems and ultimately how they think.
Once a developer is brought on board, Trio gives them the tools to become even more specialized in their area of expertise.
No matter how complex or big your project is, our engineers will find a solution for you. Would you like to know more? Let’s talk about your project!