What do successful organisations and businesses focus on each year?
For the majority it will be: how to increase productivity; improve efficiencies; build a loyal customer base and increase profitability.
One way to achieve these goals is to invest in the right resources that allow your business to continually improve and evolve - and that includes your IT infrastructure. Without the right IT applications in place, designed to accomplish particular tasks and help improve staff performance and profitability, your business goals may not be met and your organisation could lag behind. There are two main ways to upgrade or improve your software - either by buying in off-the-shelf applications or by investing in bespoke software, created to address a specific need.
You have probably heard the term ‘bespoke software’ or ‘custom applications’, but do you know what it actually means and what the advantages and disadvantages of this approach are?
Bespoke business apps are developed to fulfil a customer’s individual need and solve a specific business issue, unlike off-the-shelf products which have a wide range of customers in mind and a standard design and framework that is pre-produced.
1. Individually created personal solution – the business app is developed specifically for your company’s individual requirements to fulfil your particular need or solve your particular problem.
2. Scalability – they are designed to evolve as your business evolves and are flexible in product features and details. Changes to custom applications can be implemented as your business grows or to meet new legislation or client requirements.
3. No unused or useless features – as bespoke software apps are developed with a solution in mind, there are no useless or unused features, unlike off the shelf software that may have limited capabilities or where less than half of it may be required.
4. Matches your working practices - Bespoke software precisely matches your working practices, resulting in improved efficiency, less supervision, fewer errors.
5. Easy to use - bespoke software is easy for staff to use because you have input into the design and it works the way your company works. Custom applications are designed to aid workflow and performance guaranteeing that the software makes a significant difference to your business needs
6. Business know-how - Business information is easier to understand because bespoke applications incorporate your business know-how and information can be integrated from existing applications, suppliers and customers.
7. Return on investment – in the long term, custom applications could save you money. Costs can be deceptive as off the shelf software may not include set-up; data import; customisation of reports, support, or your own learning time. For larger numbers of users, bespoke software can actually cost less, especially where there are ongoing licencing costs.
8. Better security – off the shelf products can be more risky if hackers try to penetrate the programme as everyone who uses them is then in danger and their personal data at risk. Comparatively, bespoke business apps can only be hacked by a targeted attack which requires more time and planning. They can also be designed to be safer with extra security measures in place.
9. Supported – bespoke software is normally accompanied by specialised support, allowing for constant monitoring and updating as well as dealing with any issues that may arise as quickly as possible.
10.Competitive edge – having your own software differentiates you from your competitors and can also be uniquely branded and stylised.
Some organisations are put off developing bespoke software due to the perceived high initial capital expenditure, leading people to believe that it is more expensive than an off the shelf solution. This is not always the case however and it’s worth bearing in mind that the software is developed for use in the long term with the capacity to keep on evolving. Additionally, although it may appear that buying x number of licenses for a year is cheaper than developing your own solution, if you keep having to add to the number of users, plus the support price, plus the price for, let’s say three years , you may start to see that a tailor-made programme becomes more attractive for the long-term.
There is also a perception that since bespoke software is created from scratch it can take a long time to create which means that your business will not satisfy its existing needs quickly. Again, this is not always the case but even if it does take a while to develop the result will be the perfect fit for your business, so it is (in our opinion) well worth the wait.
As nearly every successful organisation reaches the stage where they need specific software in order to increase their profitability and performance, making the decision to use bespoke business apps can give your company the platform to grow and expand.