05 Oct Custom Software: Is It Worth It?
Unless you’re sending handwritten letters by post and running all your finances in a spiral notebook, I’m sure you also use a variety of software in order to be productive and competitive.
From emailing to spreadsheets or full-blown workflow systems, the success of the business itself often depends on this software. From employee to social media or even inventory management, all is done with the help of different types of software.
With the IT industry booming across the globe, there is no wonder that there’s a wide variety of ready-made (or off-the-shelf) software. These are designed for common tasks and fulfill most of the basic daily needs of a business. Many companies – especially start-ups – use such software and function just well without even considering the custom-made option.
WHY GO CUSTOM THEN?
As the name itself suggests, custom or tailor-made software is developed specifically for your business or industry and it takes into consideration those specific needs that only your business has.
While the ready-made software offers solutions to many of the day-to-day problems, it cannot cover all aspects of a business. Sometimes, even the most expensive off-the-shelf software fails to do exactly what you need it.
Typical scenario when you find out that it lacks that one or two features that would make the life of your employees easier or would increase their productivity.
For example, there is a company that sells food supplements through a dedicated sales team. Your company uses a client relationship management (CRM) software and the members of your team are required to log in all the clients they discuss with daily. However, the CRM you use is ready-made and does not support more than 20 daily entries for each sales person, even though some of your employees have more client discussions. On the long term, this might affect the productivity of your entire business, as your employees will not be motivated to exceed the number since their efforts will not be recorded.
HOW MUCH DOES CUSTOM SOFTWARE COST?
This is way too broad a question, like how much does tailor-made clothing cost… Do you mean a shirt? A 3-piece suit? A whole wardrobe together with shoes? To give a specific answer to that question we need to know the specifics of your needs.
In the meantime, let’s consider what it costs to not get custom software developed.
In the previous example, you’d obviously need a custom tweak of your off-the shelf software, otherwise it’s costing your company in sales big time.
Or, you start to explore other ready-made options – which is usually what happens when you realize what you’re trying to use doesn’t fully fit your processes – and you spend hours on research again. How much does your time worth per hour?
The learning curve
Now take the learning period into consideration: staff is slow, spend a good part of their production time learning to use a new piece of software, make a lot of mistakes, some confusion happening, some clients getting upset or stock getting lost, and so on. When you realize that the sofware will just not work on the long run, this process starts again with the new pick.
It’s not uncommon for small businesses to switch software / platform 3 times a year – just think of all those weeks with diminished production… how much does that cost to you?
Custom software, on the other hand, would be tailored to cater for the specific needs of your company, thus allowing you to have a better control over the daily productivity of your team members.
You shouldn’t try to wrap your business around a piece of software. It’s the software that needs to wrap around your business.
How much is 15% extra production worth?
Imagine your staff becoming 15% more productive in a just a few weeks from now.
How? Just a few examples: not having to log items, but a beep of the scanner takes care of several minutes of administration in a second. Or by being able to get 5 separate reports in 10 clicks as opposed to the 8-10 minutes of work they spent on in before.
The list could go on, and in some instances we were able to produce way more than 15% increase in production for certain divisions in a business. This can mean not having to hire new staff, or higher sales, or a more active lead generation process – again resulting in more income for you at the end.
The whole purpose of custom software is to help your business become more efficient, more productive and responsive to changes, thus offering you the competitive advantage over other similar businesses. It should fulfill the needs of the company, leaving you and your employees the time and energy to focus on more important aspects.
Depending on your industry it can mean the difference of domination your market or just getting by. It’s not even a long-term investment. You can reap the rewards of custom software in a matter of months, and from there on it only gets better every day.
So yes, it’s definitely worth to get a custom software. That’s why we are so passionate about it.