Custom software development is becoming a necessary investment that can power businesses’ initiatives to provide personalized services and gain a substantial competitive edge while increasing efficiency and productivity.
Picture buying a suit. If you go to a retailer, you can purchase a good suit off the rack that looks relatively good on you and fits you ok for a reasonable price. Now think of a tailor-made suit. It’s expensive, sure, but it’s a one-of-a-kind piece made just for you using your specific measurements, body type, and preferences. Which one sounds better? Even if the tailor-made suit is way more expensive, it’s the superior choice because it’s designed specifically for you. For mobile, software, and other IT products, it’s no different. In almost every industry, users are more drawn to and more likely to purchase and enjoy a service or good when there’s an element of personalization in it that speaks directly to them. The same happens at the industry level. Businesses of all types can benefit far more from tailor-made technologies and systems than from mass-produced, generic ones, which is why custom software development is quickly becoming the newest wrinkle in the fabric of every industry and market worldwide.
With companies being upended by the pandemic and users demanding more personalized, efficient, and better access to goods and online services, the modern business climate is rapidly changing and becoming more dynamic. As a result, organizations must seize every edge they can to remain competitive and stand out in this aggressive business environment. And as technology evolves at neck-breaking speeds, one of the most compelling ways to gain a competitive advantage is via innovative solutions such as custom software. This customized solution is tailored to each company’s needs. Despite its initial high costs, it can be an efficient and flexible way of enhancing operations while ensuring top-notch customer service and engagement.
So, whether you’re looking into custom software development or simply learning, as an innovative and awarded custom software development company, we at Foonkie Monkey wanted to tell you about this tailor-made business tool and what its benefits are for companies worldwide. So let’s begin with the basics.
What is custom software development?
Nowadays, it’s nearly impossible to imagine that any successful company can operate without an online presence that hinges on any type of mobile technology or software application. These tools have arguably become the fulcrum of product design, customer service, customer satisfaction, and business operations. They are helping companies streamline processes, manage day-to-day operations more efficiently, and automate workflows, among other advantages. However, it’s not always easy for most companies, especially startups and smaller ones, to take the leap and choose to go with a one-of-a-kind software solution. Sometimes, it’s because of the costs, others, because they don’t think they need it, but mostly, they simply don’t know what custom software development is and how it works.
Custom software (aka bespoke software) development is the process of designing and building a software application that is tailored to the specific needs of a particular company. Developers build these custom software solutions to accommodate a business’ unique needs, preferences, and expectations and address their specific problems and hurdles. More often than not, these expectations and problems remain unmet and unaddressed by an existing off-the-shelf, generic software solution, especially for companies operating in particular highly complex industries and niches such as healthcare and law. This universal software oftentimes doesn’t provide practical solutions and leaves unaddressed gaps, which is where custom software comes into play. With its ability to accommodate unique needs, specific preferences, and singular expectations, custom software helps companies rise above their problems, remain competitive, boost the success of their operations, and deliver better products and services to their customers. Also, since custom software is uniquely designed for a single business unit, it is not intended to be sold commercially.
As for the custom software development market, it is steadily growing, with a size of $388.98 billion in 2020 and a projected CAGR of 10.7% that should allow it to reach $650.13 billion by 2025! Moreover, a survey shows that almost 85% of developers claim to develop specific enterprise software for clients that want a solution tailored for them. These solutions are designed to fulfill corporate needs such as personal tasking, team management, project management, and IT services management. These figures reflect how companies worldwide are starting to adopt custom software solutions and understand that it is the superior choice. However, just like with your tailor-made suit, custom software can get expensive. One survey shows that the global price range for custom software development projects can fall anywhere between $3000 to $120,000. As you can guess, the total price depends mainly on crucial factors such as project size, features, scope, base technology, and other underlying factors. Still, surveys show that about 62% of custom software development companies charge between $20,000 and $40,000 for a basic, medium-sized project, and only around 23% charge more than $60,000. But again, just like any custom job, the total cost is only determined by each project’s unique requirements.
Lastly, since custom software solutions are made-to-order, most development companies have practices set in place that include user research, planning, pinpointing needs, designing, programming, development, testing, deployment, and maintenance. As you can guess, these processes take time, and rightfully so; custom software development requires extraordinary efforts that revolve around research, customization, and application modernization. Its myriad benefits don’t just happen by chance. In fact, depending on the size of the project, its type, requirements, budget, and technology, a custom software solution can take anywhere from one to nine months to develop, with 4.5 months being the average total time.
Top benefits of custom software development
Okay, that all sounds interesting, but does your business actually need a custom software solution? The answer to this question isn’t straightforward. While we love custom software development, it isn’t for everybody and whether or not it is the right choice for you depends on your business’ needs. However, custom software solutions offer many benefits that can help your company immensely and provide real value to your enterprise and your customers. So, let’s take a look at some of these benefits.
Isn’t it highly satisfying to spend money on something that was made just for you? The same goes at the company level. A unique storefront, a personalized branding strategy, and a one-of-a-kind marketing campaign are non-negotiable elements that make a promising approach for the success of any business. Why would it be any different at the IT level? Custom software solutions are developed based on what your company needs. Keep in mind that no two companies are the same. Even when two companies have the same target users, sell the same products, and thrive in the same market, they still have different needs, flaws, and requirements. Here’s where custom software development makes the difference. Developers do extensive research and pinpoint these areas where your business is flawed, its weaknesses, and its specific needs in terms of operations, sales, and customer satisfaction and engagement. This way, you get a software solution that has everything your company needs to succeed and pay for exactly that, no more, no less.
Additionally, unlike off-the-shelf software packages, custom software is designed with increased scalability and is built to grow with your company. As a result, you’re getting a solution flexible enough so that developers can add or remove features as old ones become obsolete and new ones become necessary, which is impossible to do in commercial software solutions. And, as an added feature, with custom software, you establish a close relationship with your development company of choice, meaning you have a knowledgeable development team at your disposal who can adapt to your needs, accommodate your concerns, and collaborate with you on making your product the best it can be.
We know this one sounds counterintuitive. After all, didn’t we just say that custom software development is very expensive? While custom software seems way more expensive at first glance than off-the-shelf solutions, in the long run, custom software is way more cost-effective. When you opt for off-the-shelf software, you either have to pay for features you don’t need because they come as part of the package you purchase, or you have to pay extra for additional features you do need that are not included in the package you acquired. You may also have to pay for a monthly or yearly membership, licensing fees, and other charges that add up. Either way, you’d be purchasing a tool that doesn’t adapt to your needs, and your budget would take an unnecessary hit. Don’t believe us? Let’s do some math:
Say you purchase an off-the-shelf software product for $200 a month. Great right? After all, that’s much cheaper than the $60,000 to $100,000–or more–a custom software solution can cost you. This software works great and does around 70% of your company’s needs. However, after six months, you realize you need an extra feature to keep electronic book records, which your software doesn’t have. You now have to pay an additional $100 for that feature. That’s $300 a month, so you’re up to over $30,000 annually. Next, it turns out you need to purchase an additional sales management feature for your sales force because your team grew, and your software membership is limited. You now have to pay an extra $100 to unlock these additional features and more if you want to add extra users; that’s an extra $4,000 per year plus any membership fee increases that may come up (and trust us, they will). And we’re not even mentioning all the features you’re paying for and not using or the ones you’ll have to pay for when your operations grow further down the road. You get the picture. Although off-the-shelf software has lower upfront costs, in the long run, it is more expensive and less efficient and can become a hassle if your company is growing, but your software isn’t scaling with it.
With custom software development, you get much more in return for your buck. Sure, you may need to invest a more significant sum upfront. Still, you’ll be getting a personalized tool that excludes all unnecessary features, includes everything you need, and scales as your business grows without any additional effort or investment. In other words, with custom software development, you pay for what you need.
3. Easy integration
In some cases we’ve encountered, companies, especially startups, don’t have any existing systems and need custom software development to start from scratch. However, several cases exist where established, and positioned businesses don’t need completely new software. Instead, they need a new custom software solution that modernizes, integrates with, and complements their existing systems and workflows. In this case, a software development team can build a custom software application that is entirely new, unique, and innovative but still integrates seamlessly into the company’s current apps, systems, software, and workflows. That way, their daily operations and flows aren’t disrupted by the new application, and they can continue to work with what they know.
Custom software development takes into consideration your company’s existing workflows. Therefore, it is tailored to meet its needs and flaws, align with existing business processes, and scale accordingly without a hitch. That way, you and your staff don’t have to make changes or modify your day-to-day operations to accommodate your new custom software solution.
4. Full product ownership
You might still be thinking that off-the-shelf software is the easier choice. However, you must remember that with these types of ready-made software, you won’t ever actually own the product you purchased. Instead, you’ll pay monthly or yearly fees for something that will never be yours. Think of it as paying rent. Yes, it may be the better choice in many cases, such as low budget or if you really don’t want to own the product because you don’t need to. In any case, you’re transferring your valuable funds toward something that someone else owns. As a result, you’re bound to the software owner’s rules, preferences, regulations, functionalities, updates, fee increases, modifications, and more.
On the other hand, if you invest that same money on a custom software solution, you may be paying more upfront, but that money is going toward something that will become your property forever. You’ll have full ownership and complete control over the application and won’t be subjected to someone else’s whims regarding fee increases or arbitrary rule changes mid-contract. In other words, with custom software development, you’re the product owner, and you call the shots. Doesn’t that sound great?
5. Increased security
Security is one of the main concerns when choosing a software solution, and its importance is not up for question. You simply can’t risk the confidentiality and safety of your company, your customers, and your employees’ data. Now, we’re not saying that off-the-shelf software is unsafe, but since it is made commercially, it’s available for everyone, and most of its source code is open to the public. Moreover, hacking events are widely known since these software packages are very popular and often belong to large companies. Therefore, most attackers, especially the more talented ones, are already aware of their vulnerabilities. As a result, these commercial software solutions can be more prone to attacks. Sure, frequent updates and patches can solve most of the security issues, but it is a hassle you won’t have to deal with in a custom-made solution.
When you choose to go with a custom software solution, your development team will make sure to conduct the necessary research to assess your existing systems, analyze your vulnerabilities, and calculate any hidden risks. They will then select the data protection protocols and technologies that better adjust to your company and your security needs. And finally, your development team will make sure to implement these protocols and technologies properly, make them as flawless and unbreakable as possible, and keep them updated regularly so that attackers will have a much harder time accessing your system.
Lastly, custom software development ensures that your solution meets any compliance standards that apply to you depending on your business. For example, a custom software solution guarantees that your product meets HIPAA, GDPR, DFARS, or any other applicable government regulations.
6. Constant support and maintenance
In any IT-based product, post-release support and maintenance are just as important as any other part of the development process. And herein lies one big difference between off-the-shelf and custom software applications. With off-the-shelf, you’re bound to the owner’s policies on support and maintenance. Of course, you can always contact customer service, but their response times vary greatly and are slow most of the time. Also, your data is at risk if the software provider discontinues the version you’re using or no longer releases updates or patches for it. You’ll likely have to spend extra money on renewals, quickly making your bill skyrocket.
With custom software solutions, the development team working on your product will make sure to implement robust QA testing strategies, maintenance protocols, and constant updates. They will also provide you with efficient technical support whenever you need it. And, since they know your software inside and out, they can quickly fix any issues you may encounter or make any updates and patches whenever the need for them arises. There’s also no limit to how often you can reach out to them and ask for help. In addition, you can request personalized assistance for as long as your custom software application remains active. How great is that?
Drawbacks of custom software development
We wouldn’t be forthright with you if we did not mention the drawbacks of custom software development. There aren’t many, but we must mention them so we can really help you make an informed decision. Here are the top disadvantages of custom software solutions:
As we mentioned earlier, custom software development is a long process. To design, plan, and build a tailor-made product takes time. So, for companies with time constraints, custom software development may not be the way to go. However, keep in mind that good things take time!
Custom software solutions can get pretty expensive. Yes, the price depends on the size of your project, its requirements, technologies, and specifications, but even if your solution is small, it will require a substantial investment that, while worth it, can hit your pocket hard.
Depending on the type of custom software and your project specifications, your custom solution may require qualified technical specialists that may be hard to find or add to the already increasing costs of developing your product.
However, you should know that conducting appropriate research and choosing the right custom software development company greatly minimize the impact of these drawbacks and can make acquiring your new custom software a pleasant and hassle-free experience.
In the modern business landscape, remaining competitive relies significantly on how companies leverage technologies and use them to their advantage. This is why, when it comes to software solutions, it is paramount to choose wisely and select an option that enables growth, enhances market relevance, and promotes flexibility. In that sense, choosing custom software development seems to be the right choice. Even though it has its drawbacks, such as a higher price tag and a longer time to market, it still delivers myriad benefits that far outweigh these disadvantages. A custom software solution can provide priceless benefits in terms of workflow optimization, customer satisfaction, security, reliability, scalability, and operational efficiency. And, as if that weren’t enough, you’ll be getting a product you own, and that is tailored specifically to meet your company’s needs, no more, no less.
Still, if you’re unsure after reading this article, you can perform a cost-benefit analysis and gather all the information you need to help you make an informed decision. And, if you decide to go with a custom software solution, we at Foonkie Monkey are more than happy to become your partner in this newfound quest for customization. So, just drop us a line and let us know!