Bespoke software (otherwise known as custom software) is made for the specific requirements of a business and is often developed by an external software house. Often businesses will commission a third-party company to analyse their processes and workflows, with the aim that a specialist will be able to determine how best to implement a custom software solution to solve the specific problems of that business.
Most people have the misconception that only huge global companies get software developed from the ground up, however that is not the case and many micro companies find that having the right tools means they can avoid the overhead costs of admin staff. With technology always evolving, it’s often the companies who stay flexible who thrive, and bespoke software can help a business do just that.
Does my business need bespoke software?
There are many reasons why a business will choose to develop bespoke software, often the executive or management teams have tried off-the-shelf solutions but are unable to find a product which does everything they want. The typical mindset in this situation is to work around the “best” system on offer.
Because bespoke software is specifically designed for an individual business it doesn’t suffer from this same problem, and instead is able to free the vital time of employees so they can be more productive. Having a tailored system isn’t the only benefit of bespoke software but being frustrated by the off-the-shelf products that your company uses is usually a sign that things could be improved.
Why develop bespoke software?
As well as having a solution which will fit your business exact needs, there are other reasons why businesses go down the custom route.
The best businesses are always evolving, and a well written system can evolve with your businesses. Your development team will be able to build new features into your system so that you can adapt to new problems, or expand into a new business venture.
Capital vs Operating Cost
Depending on the software house, when a business develops bespoke software they often own the intellectual property of the system. This means that instead of having ongoing (and often rising) license fees the cost is transparent from the start.
No more annoying surprise updates that change move things around on the screen, or fix one thing only to break another. With a system you control, you know how and when things are going to change.
Third Party Integration
Because your system can work however you need it to, it means it will always be able to communicate with a third party API, like Sage or Xero. This flexible integration is often used to bring many separate off-the-shelf systems together into a single “power system” which is able to be greater than the sum of its parts.
Macro and Micro Optimisations
Be it a man-day-or a man-minute, the time of your team adds up. With custom software you are able to tackle the inefficiencies in your business, big or small. In some cases just a 30 second task optimisation can save a businesses hundreds of thousands of pounds in lost productivity.
What are the downsides of bespoke software?
As with anything made from scratch, the lead time is going to be much longer than something you can buy off-the-shelf.
Capital vs Operating Cost
A benefit for some, a hindrance for others. A custom build is going to require more up-front capital to get it off the ground, which is a problem for some businesses, however it can often pays itself back with reduced operating costs from reducing license fees.
After investing a whole lot of time and effort into a bespoke software system, some businesses feel they cannot change their developer/software company. This can be a real problem for companies who use freelancers, as they tend to less available in the long term. In some cases, the developer may be unable to keep pace with the client’s needs and the company can suffer.
Getting good custom software requires a lot of time and energy from decision makers, otherwise the system will just fail. This can be a problem for busy executives or time-poor owners where it’s simply ‘easier’ to keep with the current solution, even if its not perfect.
So is it right for my business?
Bespoke software can be a huge asset of a growing and dynamic business, but it has its drawbacks. A higher up-front cost, along with long lead times, and high time investment means that it’s not right for every business.
Choosing the right software house is vital to the success of a project. Choosing a partner company who is going to be there for the long-haul is the first step. Next is choosing a team who is able to analyse your business and get to know the ins-and-outs of how your operation works down to a tee.
BSPOKE Software can help you on the first steps of your journey into exploring the options of getting custom software. As a relatively small software house, so we only work with clients who we know we can succeed with. The first step is to give us a call so we can see if we can help. We promise if we can’t then we can point you in the right direction. Call our Peterborough office in 01733 215 777 for a no-nonsense chat and we’ll get you started.
You can also check out our case studies to see how we helped some of our great clients.