Craft vs. Mass Production: Vivid Advantages of Custom Software Development
Certain work requires specific tools, as people say. If you want to dig a hole - use a spade, a nail can be battered down with a hammer, a tree can be cut with an axe, etc. But there will always be tasks, for which using a standard tool won't be enough - you will have to enhance and customize it. A power shovel will serve much better than a spade for making a huge pit and if you need to mount something without making holes, you'll have to put the hammer aside and use some superglue instead. Tools must be adjusted to the task and the requirements of specialists who perform this task.
Any craftsman will tell you that your tool should be an extension of your arm. That is exactly why many professionals adjust the available tools to their own preferences: guitarists peel off the polish from a guitar's neck, racers select the best rubber for their race cars, programmers place a second monitor on their desks, choose frameworks and so on.
Software is also a tool, just like a hammer, a fishing rod or a rope winch, it only differs by its complexity. When you choose a software product, it is much more difficult to get something that will ideally fit your business straight away, because every company works in its own way and you need to adjust the tools to the business processes but not vice versa.
Any business consists of variety of tasks and these tasks may be so diverse that you may need several ready-made software tools to handle them. It doesn't sound very attractive, does it? Let's take a closer look at the advantages of custom software over off-the-shelf programs.
A packaged software always aims to meet certain standard. It tries to automate some general, typical business processes. Or this software was once created to satisfy the business needs of a certain company and is targeted at similar enterprises. The keyword here is "similar" because there are no identical companies unless, of course, there are the same people behind them. In most cases, every enterprise has its own unique business approach.
By contrast, custom written software goes from general to specific - it takes into account all nuances of the company's operations, all its business processes, all the client's wishes and requirements. For example, when our company, Anadea, needed a tool for managing projects, we developed our own project management software. Ready-made solutions didn't go well with the tools we'd already been using, so we would have to rewrite and adapt existing products to Anadea's needs. Instead of resorting to tools that didn't suit us, we opted to our own custom developed software product that we are still happy with.
Tailor made software is free from such things as monthly subscription fees (for a license, support, updates and stuff like this), necessity to adapt the business processes of your company to the software requirements, customization and so on. With custom-built software, you only pay for the development of your project, modifications if you want to add some extra features and adaptation in case of some changes in the business processes of your company. You will own the final product and you will be able to manage it the way you want.
Also, speaking about expenses, custom software development still looks more attractive as it has no strict requirements to equipment. All operations that are demanding in terms of hardware are usually executed on servers and the user can see everything through a web interface. When you instal an off-the-shelf software you have to accept its technical requirements and adapt your system accordingly. Perhaps, you will have to upgrade the company's workstations if all the operations are to be performed on local equipment, or pay extra fees if the system operates on the servers of software provider.
When you develop your own custom software, you are not limited in the choice of technologies as it would happen with ready solutions. You can use any programming languages, frameworks, all the most interesting and useful technical innovations in order to achieve the desired result. A boxed software - in most cases - uses time-tested and proven over the years technologies, however, many of them come a poor second to modern developments. In addition, there can appear the problem of incompatibility with the software tools that are already used in your company. And if your company is rapidly developing and expanding, you will face the fact that out-of-the-box technologies slow you down and can't cope with the constantly growing volume of data. You will have to either increase hardware capacity or start developing your custom software, which will initially be cut out for a fast growing business.
Bespoke software will start paying off since its first days and you will be able to evaluate its effectiveness immediately. Besides, if you create it using Agile software development methodologies, you will become a full-fledged member of the team and will be able to keep your finger on the pulse of the development. If you don't like something in that version of an application, you will always be able to correct the flaws in the next one. Out-of-the-box software solutions won't grant you such privileges. You will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of using such ready-made programs only after a while. Moreover, very often your company will use only 20% of all the available functionality while the other 80% simply remains unused. In custom designed software there won't be anything superfluous.
The effectiveness of using custom software systems is way higher than when you go with ready solutions. If your software is made according to Agile principles with your active participation in the development process, you will know this tool as the palm of your hand. Furthermore, if the program was initially designed specifically for the business processes of your company and with taking into account your available equipment, the necessity to adapt immediately disappears. You are free to build an app based on the best technologies and developments and are not tied to any existing platform. In other words, why to play by someone else's rules when you can set your own?