Whether your business is just starting out or well established, you may be considering bespoke software development. Choosing between an off-the-shelf package or a customised software solution is a tough call. Knowing the pros and cons of each can help you make the best decision for streamlining your business or manufacturing processes.
Having your own software custom built has the distinct advantage that it is specific to your business needs, making your employee tasks easier and your processes more efficient. This is particularly important in niche industries and manufacturing processes where a one-size-fits-all package approach won't work without significant workarounds.
Custom software development has the added advantage of being better able to develop further as your business grows. A software developer who has followed best practices in terms of documentation and development will be able to add functionalities as you need them. Adding to your software on an as-needed basis can also be helpful budget management if done with care.
In a business environment where several software packages are required, compatibility issues may pop up. With rented or subscription software packages, updates could end up being disruptive with integration issues popping up, or extra expense in retraining staff. Custom software packages avoid compatibility and integration issues, with no unexpected or disruptive updates.
Custom software development usually comes standard with training, support and maintenance provided by your software development service provider. Problems that pop up can easily be addressed, especially if your developer is local and you can avoid costly delays in getting responses from international software suppliers.
The major drawback with custom software development is the expense. The initial build is likely to require a significant investment, especially for a start-up or if the requirements are complex. However, it may offer an equally significant return on investment over the longer term in the value it adds to your business or manufacturing systems and processes.
Although the initial cost may be off-putting, custom software development may be more cost-effective in the longer term. As your business grows, your off-the-shelf software package may no longer meet your needs, necessitating an upgrade or switching over to a new system entirely. Not only is there is a purchase cost involved, but staff will also require retraining at your cost.
Custom software development, on the other hand, can grow with your business to avoid the expense and disruptions associated with switching over to new packages and systems. Should your custom software require upgrades, additions or refinements, training will usually come standard with the change requests that are implemented.
As every business owner knows, financial planning is critical to business success. Off-the-shelf software packages will require upgrading, relicensing or involve increases in subscription fees and those costs are difficult to predict. Being able to manage your budget by deciding when and how you will upgrade or implement changes can be life saving for your business in lean times.
Satisfying, efficient and cost-effective software development depends heavily on having a reliable partner in the process. Ideally, you should be able to develop a lasting relationship with your software developer, avoiding the pitfalls of having to switch developers when an upgrade is required. While switching isn't impossible, it does pose challenges.
In all, custom software development can be a cost-effective solution to your business needs, streamlining your business or manufacturing processes and offering longer term solution to your software requirements, despite the initial outlay.
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