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 house in Peterborough, we at BSPOKE have worked with many organisations, each varying in size and sector. With over a decade of experience, we understand the struggles and questions that businesses ask before they’re confident that bespoke software solution is for them. One of the most common questions involves the projected lifespan of a software solution and primarily, how long will it last before it needs to be upgraded or replaced.
Whilst the short answer is ‘it depends’, we have put together this guide to cover most of the key factors that impact software lifespan so that you can make the most informed decision possible.
Why Does the Lifespan of Your Software Matter?
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 which increases productivity, enables greater control and solves business pain points; all factors which fundamentally impact revenue generation and business growth. With that said, the lifespan of the software your organisation implements is a key variable for projected its impact, feasibility and value to the business.
Whether you intend to sell you software as a service or use it internally, trying to estimate how much time it will save or how much value it can provide and then translating that into revenue is essential to making an informed investment decision. How long the software will last before it needs to be replaced or upgraded weighs heavily in that calculation.
How Long Will Your Bespoke Software Solution Last?
Again, the answer to this question is, unfortunately, ‘it depends’. As with most things, there is no guaranteed 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; though, this information includes the analysis of data from around 20 years ago when the rate of technological improvement was very different.
What Impacts the Lifespan of Your Software?
Using this 6-8 year estimate as a baseline, we can now explore the additional factors which will impact the life expectancy of your bespoke software, as well as what type of impact you should expect them to have.
Size and Complexity
To start with, the size and complexity of your software solution will have a notable impact on its overall lifespan. Complex software solutions which solve multiple pain points at once usually take longer to become obsolete, outdated 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, as well as the speed at which technology develops and how it will take longer for more complex solutions to be optimised using new technologies.
Regardless of the exact reasoning in each case, the estimated lifespan of more complex solutions which exceed around 1 million lines of code is 12-14 years.
Another notable factor which impacts the lifespan of custom software is how easily the software can be added to, updated or tweaked. Modular software solutions are easy to amend and alter based on new compatibility requirements or business needs. With the right foundations, new bespoke software can be designed with ‘future-proofing’ elements, making it easier to upgrade or change.
Modularity does present its own risks though, particularly when implementing new functionality which communicates with existing functionality. If done incorrectly, you can find yourself with corrupted data or broken systems within the software, so, it’s encouraged to have the original development team conduct any changes required, too.
This brings us to another key lifespan extender – development support. Having the team of developers who created the software on-hand to help with bugs, issues, functionality problems or changes can have an extremely positive impact on your software’s life expectancy. Ultimately, the creator of the software will have a much deeper understanding than any third-party and as a result, keeping them available will help ensure the software is maintained to the best possible standard.
At BSPOKE Software, we offer lifetime support packages for the software we develop which allow our clients to get expert support face-to-face, via email or over the phone whenever necessary. This way, whatever stage your software solution is at, you can be sure that it will last as long as possible.
There are also extraneous variables which will have an impact on how long your custom software solution lasts. One of these is how technology advances over time and in turn, how quickly it eclipses the capabilities of your software.
Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to prepare for the future except ensuring your software can be tweaked if necessary. That said, if your custom solution’s foundations are built upon older frameworks then sometimes it’s impossible to translate this to new technologies, leading to a lack of compatibility. In these cases, you will need to invest in an entirely new software solution.
Industry Trends and Demands
Finally, it’s important to note that whilst technology may not be advancing, the industry in which your software operates might be. This applies to both Software-as-a-Service organisations and businesses with internal software, alike.
For SaaS businesses, if the industry which your software targets sees a shift in focus or a notable change, then it may render your tool redundant or outdated. This can rapidly decrease your software’s lifespan and require immediate development work to rectify or continue your business.
For other organisations, as your business develops and your model adapts, you may find that your custom software now solves irrelevant pain points which are no longer an issue. In this case, a new solution is required to optimise productivity again and continue to promote business growth.
Develop a Long-Lasting Bespoke Custom Software Solution with BSPOKE
At BSPOKE, we specialise in adapting our service to your needs and preferences. Leveraging decades of combined experience, our team of experts are on hand to not only develop your software but consult with you on building the best solution for your organisation. Built upon a foundation of honesty, integrity and genuine advice, we pride ourselves on not just creating great software but building it to last, supported by our lifelong support packages.