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Investing in bespoke software is a big step for any organisation. Well-designed, effective custom software is neither cheap nor quick to develop. So taking your time to make an informed decision is sensible.

As a leading software developer, BSPOKE has worked with many organisations varying in size and sector. With over a 20 years experience, we understand the issues that businesses grapple with.

One of the most common questions involves the projected lifespan of a software solution.  In other words, how long it will be before it needs upgrading or replacing.

We have therefore outlined a few points covering most questions around software lifespan.

Why lifespan matters

As with all things in business, what matters most is the bottom line. The majority of organisations invest in bespoke software because they want a solution that increases productivity, enables greater control and solves business pain points.

These are all factors which fundamentally impact revenue generation and business growth. The lifespan of the software is a key variable for projecting its effect, feasibility and value to the business.

Whether you intend to sell your software as a service or use it internally, trying to estimate the time it will save or how much value it can provide and then converting it to ROI is essential.

This will be the basis upon which you make an informed investment decision. How long the software will last before it needs to be replaced or upgraded is central to this calculation.

How long does bespoke software last?

It depends. There is no right answer for how long your software is expected to last, all we can do is estimate. Studies suggest that the average software program has a lifespan of 6-8 years. However, this information includes data from 20 years ago when technological improvements were different.

What impacts software lifespan?

Using the 6-8 year estimate as a baseline, we can now explore the additional factors:

Size and complexity

To start with, complex software solutions which solve multiple pain points at once usually take longer to become obsolete or redundant.

This is for a variety of reasons including the challenge and resources required to create a new piece of software which eclipses the existing software. Other reasons could be the speed at which technology develops and how it will take longer for more complex solutions to be optimised using new technologies.

Regardless, the estimated lifespan of more complex solutions that exceed 1 million lines of code is 12-14 years.

Modularity

Another notable factor which impacts the lifespan of custom software is how easily the software can be updated.

Modular software solutions are easy to amend and alter based on new business needs. With the right foundations, new software can be designed with ‘future-proofing’ elements, making it easier to change.

Modularity does present its own risks though, particularly when implementing new functionality that communicates with existing functionality. If done incorrectly, you can find yourself with corrupted data or broken systems within the software, so it’s advisable to have the original development team make changes.

Development support

Having the team of developers who created the software on-hand to help with functionality problems or changes can have an extremely positive impact on your software’s life. Ultimately, the software creators will have a much deeper understanding than a third-party.

At BSPOKE Software, we offer lifetime support packages for the software we develop. Our clients get expert support face-to-face, via email or over the phone whenever necessary.

Technological advancements

There are also other variables that have an impact on how long your custom software solution lasts. One of these is how technology advances and how quickly it overtakes your software’s capabilities.

All you can do to futureproof your system is ensure it can be tweaked if necessary. That said, if your software’s foundations are built on older frameworks, it can be impossible to translate this.  This may mean a lack of compatibility which means investing in entirely new solutions.

Industry trends and demands

Finally, it’s important to note that whilst technology may not advance, the industry in which your software operates may well. This applies to both Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) organisations and businesses with internal software.

For SaaS businesses, if the industry which your software targets sees a shift in focus or a notable change, it may render your tool redundant. This can rapidly decrease your software’s lifespan and require immediate development work to rectify.

For other organisations, as your business develops and your model adapts, you may find that your custom software solves pain points. In this case, a new solution is required to optimise productivity and continue to promote business growth.

We adapt to your business

At BSPOKE, we specialise in adapting our service to your business needs and preferences. Leveraging decades of combined experience, our team of experts is on hand to consult with you on building the best solution around you

Built upon a foundation of honesty, integrity and genuine advice, we pride ourselves on creating GREAT software.  We build it to last and support it with lifelong support packages.

Begin your software development project today by getting in touch for a consultation or for examples of our previous work, explore our case studies online.