Upgrading to Bespoke Software for Unique Business Advantages
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Today's tech marketplace is the most fast-paced, well-supported, and competitive we've ever seen it. To get started you need only online access and a laptop. Progressing further and remaining competitive in that same market, however, means consistently improving on your services and abilities. It means finding new ways to streamline operations, improve, and stand out from a very large crowd. Bespoke software development is a business upgrade that allows you to do just that.
While commercially available off-the-shelf software can get you started in business, bespoke solutions provide a ground-up approach to building a tech company that can grow and scale as far as you're willing to take it. Put simply, tailored software solutions are an investment in the next stage of your firm. So when is the right time to leave off-the-shelf behind and build a bespoke tech solution for your company?
Here, we take a look at what building a bespoke software solution really means and take a look at five of the biggest advantages we've seen customized development projects deliver to businesses.
What is a Bespoke Software Solution?
Software built specifically to meet the requirements of your business is bespoke software. It should both solve problems present right now and build a platform that you can use to grow in the future. Bespoke software is the opposite of generic off-the-shelf solutions designed to meet broad business demands and common use cases.
Instead, a tailored software solution is built to fit your business and its workflows. How many times, for example, have you thought about how differently you would design something if you were starting with a clean slate? = Likely, there are plenty of features and workflows you could alter just slightly to save hours per week per user with just a fraction more flexibility and forethought.
Common examples of features businesses ask for include:
- Integrating batch processing. Allow users to handle many files or tasks at once.
- Macros and automation. Performing frequently used action groups at the stroke of a key, saving the user several steps at a time and speeding up day-to-day admin.
- Streamlined interfaces. Creating a software interface that is built to meet the way you use it rather than to meet broad generic demands. This allows developers to design menus and actions that reduce the number of clicks needed to reach common items and saves huge amounts of time.
- Improving error handling. Providing software that simply backs up to the previous step instead of disregarding forms and fields filled in with significant time and effort.
There are almost certainly many more workflow integrations, connectivity capabilities, and optimizations you can think of specific to your business, industry, and the way you use software today.
Building bespoke software is a chance to implement these changes. It's a way to build flexible solutions that integrate seamlessly into systems and raise the quality of your business software by meeting your goals and requirements precisely.
Whether building for increased security, aiming for better productivity, placing your brand on a customer solution, improving workflow flexibility, or providing a little more control over the future of your business — the advantages of bespoke software development will undoubtedly raise the bar on what your company can do.
Bespoke Software Advantages for Businesses
1. Create A Perfect Fit Solution
The number one reason customers often tell us they're building bespoke instead of buying off-the-shelf is the ability to encompass many diverse requirements and workflows into a single package. The most powerful feature of custom software is its ability to define precisely what it can do for you.
With a vast array of great software available to choose from today, there is almost certainly a commercially available solution that meets some of your main requirements. Yet, somehow, there's almost never one that meets them all. Invariably, some of your workflows, integrations, or deliverables have to change to meet the software instead of the other way around.
Building bespoke gives you the chance to define the functionality, workflows, and licensing you need today and to build on top of that platform with more features in the future.
For bespoke point-of-sale systems, for example, this might mean updating inventory, creating supply orders, generating unique notifications, or any one of a near-infinite number of business use cases that bespoke solutions can be built to meet.
2. Designed to Be Distinct
Standing out from the crowd for all the right reasons can be a significant competitive advantage. Bespoke software solutions allow you to place your own branding, design, and features into a system that many competitors can't match.
While many suppliers are hemmed into making changes amongst a handful of customizations made available to users — bespoke software provides a blank canvas for our teams to design from.
E-commerce systems are a key example where designing and building bespoke solutions can have an outsized impact on business success. Whether through providing customer interactions that allow users to tailor their products before sale, placing an order to be fulfilled through a third party, or simply putting a unique branding on the customer experience — a bespoke solution can make a lasting impression.
3. Eliminate External Risk
Perhaps the most unsung advantage of creating a bespoke software solution is the ability to reduce the external risk placed on your software. Commercial solutions invariably come with licenses, features, and product life cycles that are subject to external change.
By taking ownership of your own software you get to define its lifespan, licenses, and development roadmap. In contrast, commercial solutions will always be vulnerable to features and services being discontinued, put behind a new paywall, or re-designed in a new direction.
The price of a bespoke piece of software can't be changed overnight, neither can its development be re-focused in a new direction, or features be wrapped up without warning. While this is an advantage that is often less talked about, it's one well worth considering for future projects.
4. Providing Additional Control
One of the more hidden advantages of bespoke software development is how much freedom and creativity it enables for developers.
With off-the-shelf software, developers build to well-defined interfaces that allow data to be exchanged between various systems. This has the advantage of being straightforward and fast while still allowing a degree of customization at either endpoint. The drawback of this approach is that it can limit the amount and type of data you can use to only data the underlying software can accept.
Bespoke systems can be designed from scratch with business-specific data in mind.
Bespoke supply chain management systems, for example, allow for unique data objects, processing, and integrations that often fall outside of the standard use case — severely limiting functionality and use. One of the major advantages of bespoke software is in being able to define the type and amount of data running through a system.
Bespoke software is relatively unique in that it's one of the few assets that adds greater and greater value over time. While a new piece of equipment or machinery is most exciting and novel on day one, customized business software continues to open up more and more interesting avenues of business development and production as companies grow and change.
By creating well-engineered software with modernized architecture and design, we specialize in solutions that can be maintained and built on for many years down the line.
Often, this means building additional features as software requirements grow and change alongside the company. Today, for example, it's commonplace to extend systems to incorporate methods of machine learning, AI, or similar related tools to provide customer service chatbots or intelligent data processing capabilities.
Extending systems like this with additional features or for greater numbers of customers is very often possible because of a well-designed bespoke system underpinning the project.
One prime example is one of our case studies in healthcare tech where we built a mobile application that allowed Doctor Care Anywhere to accelerate their growth to tens of thousands of users in a very short space of time.
Key Concerns Over Bespoke Software
Of course, there are many ways to solve any given problem and bespoke software has to be weighed carefully against other options. So what are the potential drawbacks to creating a tailored software solution for your business and how can they be addressed?
The most common objection to bespoke software is the potential price of the system compared to a commercial solution. Custom software projects are very often defined, weighed, and judged by their upfront costs. Yet, there's more to the accounting under the surface.
For most industries and applications you can likely find off-the-shelf software that can be licensed for a fixed fee per user, per month. In the short term, this is going to cost significantly less than the upfront price of a bespoke system built for your business — that math is easy.
How do the costs stack up over the next few years, however? Similarly, how will they fare as your users, customer base, and license requirements grow over time?
Of course, you may have to factor in multiple licenses for multiple solutions that have to be integrated together to meet your complete system requirements. The accounting for those considerations gets a little more tricky, but worth bearing with. Then, how do you cost the risk of external changes to systems, features, and licenses? Add in the artificial limits that off-the-shelf software can place on scalability, branding, and control and the equations get even harder still.
Factoring in the cost of a bespoke system vs the true cost of off-the-shelf software isn't nearly as easy as comparing one figure against another. Purchasing a bespoke system is a complex and major investment. There's no easy answer and it is a topic worthy of a deep dive itself.
Off-the-shelf software is similarly available at a moment's notice whereas a bespoke solution will invariably take weeks to plan, design, build, and test. Indeed, if you need a solution by the end of next week then commercially available software is the only way to fulfill that role.
If you're planning technologies or the remainder of the year and beyond, however, it's worth considering how you invest that time to supercharge future growth and provide stand-out services that set you apart from your nearest competitors.
Tailored Software for Your Business
Choosing the right solution for your company is a decision as big and impactful as the business itself. Both bespoke software solutions and off-the-shelf software packages have a role to play in building effective systems. Finding out how to combine both to maximize efficiency and productivity is something we regularly do with our clients and partners.
Over 15 years in the industry we've helped countless companies across numerous industries find the best solutions for their businesses. As a software service provider, we pride ourselves on finding the optimal solution to work within your business, whether that's off-the-shelf software ready to go or bespoke software built by our expert teams.
For advice on building the systems and software you need to meet your next goal get in touch with our expert teams to find out what's being done at the leading edge of the industry.
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