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What is Custom Software Development?

March 8, 2024 by
  • Software Development

When a company needs specific functionalities of software that off-the-shelf software can't provide, then it is time to get developers involved to create custom software applications.  

While the idea of software tailored to your business sounds appealing, custom software development isn't for everyone. The process can be expensive and time-consuming, and it's challenging to convey the scope of the functionality you need.

We'll look at custom software vs. off-the-shelf solutions and help you determine if custom software development is something your business should pursue. 

Custom Software Versus Off-The-Shelf Software

Off-the-shelf software is purchased in sets and is ready to go out of the box. The packages are created for specific situations, such as for a particular type of application, for example, Microsoft Word. Off-the-shelf (OTS) software is often called "reinvented" because more choices are available than anyone can test. And while OTS applications do perform as they should in most cases, they may not be suited to your exact needs or fit your budget.

With custom software, you can select the most suitable package for your needs. If you make modifications later, you will not have to replace and repurchase all of the screens, dialog boxes, and other aspects of your application. You also have more flexibility in choosing the type of layout, programming language, and graphics within your application. The software makes it easier to create a customized end product that meets the exact needs of your business. Customizing software involves three major tasks:

  • Programming (coding)
  • Prototyping
  • Design

Custom Software Development Pros

  • A key benefit of custom software is that it can be designed to meet any specific need. This is important to investors who often do not have the time or resources to learn how to use off-the-shelf software.
  • Custom software can also help companies build brand awareness by creating an application that reflects their unique characteristics, vision, and mission.
  • Custom software development can also keep a company agile and mobile with its ability to update quickly and respond to changing business conditions.

Custom Software Development Cons

  • Custom software costs more than OTS. In addition to the initial purchase price, custom software can also be expensive to maintain. There are also additional costs for professional services and training.
  • Software development involves more than just programming. Design is an important part of designing user interfaces, controls, and screens.
  • In many cases, a company cannot afford to outsource this work because the cost of design is higher than the cost of programming, or it may not be worth it due to the increased risk of a failed design or lost code.

Does my Company Need Custom Software?

Yes and No. If your company is already using off-the-shelf software and requires customizations, you may want to consider designing and building your application. If your company is not already using OTS software, then we would advise starting off with off-the-shelf software since this is going to be a much cheaper option.  Let’s have a look at the primary reasons why you would want to consider custom software development. 

  • Your employees are overwhelmed with inefficient processes and workarounds

Software development employees have little control over their work and productivity since it is a tedious process with excessive workarounds. The efficiency of your company is directly related to how you run your business. You can achieve efficiency gains by constantly changing how you do things, from recurring tasks to simple communication needs that keep your team on the same page.

  • You need an in-house excel expert to make sense of your data

If you are expecting to launch a new product, you should seek out the services of Excel experts. Excel experts will have all your data crunching done for you, and you'll have the ability to organize information by merging it with other files, creating formulas, and applying filters. Over time, it becomes difficult to run reports every day because your business grows too fast. Having the right Excel expert will help you organize your data in a way that can be used in the future as well as in real-time. This custom software development solution helps structure your data, create relationships between different documents, and helps you extract meaningful insights from this information.

  • Your outside salespeople and offsite employees need secure access to data

Outside salespeople need secure access to the data contained in their laptops and home computers. The option for providing that access is remote access.  

  • Your company has specific, proprietary processes

If you have an innovative product, process, or even service, there may not be any off-the-shelf product readily available for you. Or it may be that your organization may be introducing new ways of doing business. For example, Lyft needed to create custom software for its drivers and customers; the app-based ride-sharing process was new.   

What if I Don't Have the Skills to do This?

Kapsys can help you with your custom software application's programming, prototyping, and design. We offer a three-phase approach. These include a POC (proof of concept), an assessment, and a turnkey project for a pre-set fee. Kapsys will then perform the coding, design, and testing of the completed software application on its servers so that you can begin using the program immediately.

Custom Software Development Services

Selecting a company to create a software application for your business can be a challenge.  You'll need to find acceptable candidates and hire a company or professional that promises the right price and service level.  Typically, you'll meet with prospective software development partners to ensure everyone's on the same page about what's needed and the total amount of work that's required to create the custom solution. Next, your candidates will submit bids based on development time and costs. Bids aren't set in stone; some projects will engender additional time and expenses.  Try not to focus on the most attractive, lowest-priced bid. It's critical to select the company that will best meet your needs.  Here are some tips for selecting a custom software development provider: 

  • Choose a software development provider in your language and culture.
  • If you are working on an international client, look for one that has offices close to you or will ship their product internationally.
  • Be wary of deals that promise results quickly or work at no cost. Agreements with such vendors could come at a high price down the road when problems arise, and the company goes belly up or is forced to lay off employees.
  • Conduct a little research on the companies' history before choosing them for your custom software development project.

5 Best Practices for Custom Software Development

Define Your Current Process and Future Needs

It is important to define your goal when designing your custom software. The goal is to develop a new solution that will be more efficient for your company. Before designing your custom software, ensure you understand the following:

  • The current process. Ask experts who handle the work daily to have detailed information about custom software.
  • Know the problem you are solving. Do not make decisions based on assumptions. Always ensure that you have all the facts. Testing the theory and getting feedback from the stakeholders will help you make an excellent and effective decision when solving problems.
  • Understand the ultimate goal or success. Have a draft of how developing custom software will work, the processes involved in customizing your software, and workflows meant for the final goal without leaving any workflow out.

Choose the Right People for the Work

The following individuals and organizations can create custom software:

  • Your internal IT staff, including your chief technology officer (CTO)
  • People you employ or contract particularly for the task
  • Software development providers and firms

Having in-house employees will save you money. However, utilizing your own IT staff in custom software development has disadvantages. For instance, your workforce already has commitments. Removing them from regular work might cause a delay in the overall organization. In addition, your IT staff may be untrained or inexperienced in software development.

Make a Realistic Plan with Set Milestones

To lead and guide the whole endeavor, form a team that comprises engineers, subject-matter experts, and a project manager. Create a project road plan with your team. Make sure it's a feasible and sophisticated workflow since you cannot build the shipping system in a week. To keep the project on schedule, set up milestones. These are several stages of development that ought to be achieved at particular times and within a certain budget. Examine the work at each milestone to see if you need to adjust your schedule or budget.

Conduct Appropriate Testing

You should conduct two main tests to ensure that the software is effective. The two types of testing include:

  • Technical testing. This is done by developers and IT specialists to check that the software's core pieces are operating properly.
  • User testing. This is done by business beta users. User testing guarantees that the program performs as intended. It will also test the user experience and interface to ensure that the staff can work efficiently without becoming confused or frustrated.

Document the Process

All stages of development and implementation require documentation. The following are activities that you should do during the documentation process:

  • Thoroughly test the program, and create a test strategy and checklist.
  • Perform scope declaration. This ensures that you don't try to fix too many problems with the software.
  • Apply an implementation strategy that specifies who will use the program and when they should begin using it.

When you roll out the new resource, you should incorporate a training strategy and have clear user documentation with clear guidelines. We also incorporate lean software development principles to increase efficiency, thus ensuring customers aren't left frustrated and confused.  To learn more about what Kapsys can help out with in terms of software development, reach out to us and let’s talk.