So, what’s the answer? Is buying packaged software the best option, or is developing software to exact specifications going to provide the best value? In other words… what’s the big deal? Well, it can be a very big deal but you have to understand what your business requires and expects from software and what the total cost of ownership (TCO) will be. Only then, can you make the best choice for your needs.
What’s code got to do with it?
Custom software development requires thorough project research, based on strategic needs and a reputable high-end custom development consultant that can help companies navigate the sometimes-treacherous waters of business requirements. Since the chief purpose of custom software is to build as perfect an outcome as required by the customer, it is critical that any consultant chosen works closely with the team to ensure that preferences, requirements and needs are clearly outlined and communicated. The question often becomes, however, “should the custom application be built to fit exact needs, or can off-the-shelf-software get close enough?”
Sometimes, this is an easy decision. Software such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Creative Suite gives 99.9% of businesses the features and functionality they need so building custom software for these needs usually doesn’t make sense. But let’s say you are in a specialized market or the packaged software you’ve found fits some but not all of your needs. Worse yet, you need to customize your off-the-shelf software. That process alone can be very expensive and time-consuming and you still are not assured of getting the features and functionality you want. Here are a few items to consider. If you have to modify your packaged software to fit into your business ecosystem, that will make or break implementation AND the ultimate success of adoption. If the product does not fit your needs, it isn’t a solution. The more you change – the more money you will spend – and the less chance you will have to reap the true rewards that business software provides. With that in mind it may be time to take a hard look at custom developed software solutions.
Declare your independence from packaged software
Why do custom software development projects seem so expensive and have a degree of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) in them? Well, it takes time to understand exactly what the business needs in terms of requirement, processes, working with other divisions and so on. It can be daunting for many companies simply because they really don’t want to pull back the covers of their own infrastructure. In addition, you are paying for exactly what you want and need and therefore, larger up-front costs are invested in design, quality assurance, testing and development. HOWEVER, if you’ve found a reputable and quality-based custom software development consultant that has the expertise needed to get the job done, these activities dramatically reduce the TCO and ensure that it fits your business and IT requirements.
Keep in mind that custom software is not for everyone. If there is an off-the-shelf package that truly meets ALL of your requirements, then it may make sense to invest. However, if a solution is needed that more closely meets your business requirements, can grow and change as the business grows and changes and is flexible, then you would be doing your business a disservice by not considering a custom software solution.