Choosing your software application is a strategic decision. If your business depends on service or product delivery, and the core application underpins that work, then it cannot fail to function or continually enable innovation. So, how do you make that call?
What is Bespoke software?
Like clothing, ‘bespoke’ or ‘custom’ software is a computer application built to meet your specific requirements and needs.
Because it can usually be based on a previously used framework, and using pre-built components, not every line of code would be written from scratch. But that’s good, as gives you the core functionality that has proved successful in the past, while enabling the developer/s to focus on what is unique for your needs without ‘reinventing the wheel’ on more generic parts.
A customer who has paid for the software will usually own the Intellectual Property (IP) and source code too as an organisational asset. As such, you can sell or licence it to others, although, as your unique application can and should provide and support your competitive advantage, that’s not a guaranteed strategic win.
What is the alternative?
Again, like a suit, off-the-shelf software is generalist, and pre-built to meet a general market need. Because it must work for many organisations and therefore, while configurable to some extent, will have a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Users typically pay for a users’ licence or increasingly pay a subscription in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, accessed over the Web.
Why buy an application at all?
The reasons you might be in the market for a software application, particularly bespoke, are many and varied. For the purposes of my first blog l will include an initial six.
They are not suggested in any particular order, and you may find your primary driver in the second blog, which I’ll be publishing in a couple of weeks.
- Your specialist business processes. If you as an organisation, or a significant part of it is demonstrably unique, you are unlikely to find pre-built software to meet your needs.
- Unsatisfactory off-the-shelf applications. If the pre-built software doesn’t meet your requirements, misses important functionality, or compromises how you do things.
- Offer a new or improved service. You want to boost your market presence in some way, either by matching up a competitor or – ideally – promoting something new and unique.
- Streamline processes. Who doesn’t want to improve process and workflow efficiencies? A few live examples include centralising data storage, reducing paperwork, and enabling automation in data collection or transfer.
- Selling the software as a service. Your new customer offering, a product or service, could be wholly or partially supported by a software solution.
- Reducing administrative or manual work. Automation through computers doesn’t have to cost jobs. Released from the most repetitive tasks, this is an opportunity for staff to ‘up-skill’.
Bespoke software: Not for everyone.
Like the off-the-shelf applications, custom software does not meet every need:
- Relatively high up-front costs although this can be mitigated.
- Deployment time: developing software takes time which may be an issue for some. But taking an agile approach and building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) first before adding new functionality will help.
- Wrong fit: A bespoke application may not meet the needs or budget of a smaller enterprise.
- Simplicity: Pre-built software can meet all or most organizational needs.