There’s no question that your business needs software to succeed. Software is used by almost every department and every business in every industry, and it’s a critically important productivity tool that enables business functions that might otherwise be impossible.
But when it comes to acquiring software, businesses are faced with a tough decision. Do you simply buy an “out of the box” software solution currently being aggressively marketed to consumers like you? Or do you try to build a custom solution from scratch?
As you might suspect, the answer is going to depend on what type of business you’re running and what your priorities are. There are multiple aspects to consider that make the question regarding software more complicated than it first seems.
The Value Of Custom Software Development
Custom software development has the potential to improve your business plan. Additionally, many businesses view it as an investment. These are some of the top advantages.
• Exactly the features you need: Building a custom solution means you’ll have exactly the features you need. You won’t have to deal with unnecessary fluff, nor will you be lacking any of the functionality you wanted.
• Long-term savings: Building software is expensive upfront, but it can save you significant money in the long term in addition to making your business more efficient.
• Potential competitive advantages: Having custom-made software could give you a competitive advantage. You may be able to serve your customers in more dynamic ways or operate more efficiently, serving your customers consistently and with higher quality.
• Control and flexibility: When creating your own software platform, you’ll have more control and flexibility. You decide exactly how the platform is built and how it functions, and you can change it in the future if need be.
Costs And Downsides Of Custom Software Development
While there are many benefits, custom software development does have some significant downsides, making out-of-the-box software look more attractive by comparison. Consider:
• Timing and scheduling: If you buy a standard software product, you can start using it right away. If you choose to build, it could be months before you have a working version. Timing and scheduling the release of this product can interrupt your business and get in the way of your other priorities.
• Initial expenses: Customized software does get expensive, especially if you want an innovative and robust platform. You can choose to save money by working with less-qualified developers, but this will often result in an inferior product.
• Ongoing costs: Don’t forget about ongoing costs like software maintenance, server upkeep and support. These can chip away at your overall profitability.
• Performance and security concerns: When working with a custom developer, you’ll also need to think about the performance and security of your platform. That’s why it’s advisable to work with the best team you can afford.
Tips for Making a Better Decision
There isn’t an objectively correct decision here. Instead, you’ll need to make the right decision for your business. Below are the best ways to do it.
Don’t rule out any options (at first)
Initially, your gut may lead you to one decision or the other. You may love the idea of custom-made, proprietary software because it makes you feel like your business will be distinguished, or you may love the idea of buying existing software because of its convenience. Try not to rule out any options at first and, instead, look at the pros and cons of both.
Talk to different software developers.
Reach out to multiple custom software developers. Get to know their approach, learn their pricing and have a discussion about the features you want your software to have. Throughout your interactions, you’ll get a feel for whether custom software is truly something you want to pursue, and you’ll glean an accurate estimate of the costs you’ll face if you choose this path.
Focus on your needs first.
Your decision should ultimately boil down to what your business’s needs are. If you don’t know what those needs are, you won’t be able to make an effective decision. Formally write down the features and functionality you need from your forthcoming software product; is there already a solution on the market that offers these?
Understand your biggest priorities.
Also, recognize your biggest priorities. For example, is it more important to get a product that will serve you in the long term or adhere to your current budgetary restrictions? There may not be a perfect option, but some variables are going to be more impactful than others. Those factors could help tip the scales of this important decision. More important is to check the customer feedback in product development, Once you got an idea of that you can easily build your software.
In many cases, custom software eventually pays for itself. Some businesses do tend to perform better when they optimize their planning for the long term. However, you also don’t want to exhaust your resources prematurely.
So should your business buy an existing software product or work with a custom software developer to build one from scratch? The decision about which is better is tough. If you want something original and total control over the finished product, there’s really no question; you need to build a custom software product.
Conversely, if you’re struggling to define your needs and you’re on a limited budget, out-of-the-box software is going to look more appealing. Take inventory of your needs and priorities before making a final decision.
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