Custom software development is a way to design and build software solutions that address the unique needs of a specific organization. Unlike commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS), a software development model which targets a broad set of requirements and can be packaged and marketed to a large audience, custom software development aims at a narrowly defined set of requirements and delivers tailor-made software for particular Clients.
The benefits of custom software development
The main reason to develop custom software applications for a company is that there may simply be no other software systems that would do exactly what is needed to facilitate business operations at a given company. In this case there may simply be no other option but to have bespoke software and custom enterprise applications developed for the company. There are, however, also many other benefits to developing custom software, such as:
A custom software application is designed to support the business processes of the client swiftly and productively, without the need to adjust or modify commercial off-the-shelf software applications.
Custom software can grow and change as the organization evolves and its needs also change. Commercial off-the-shelf software applications may have limitations or require additional licenses or subscriptions to accommodate growth.
Custom software can offer higher levels of security than commercial off-the-shelf software applications, as it is less vulnerable to external threats and hacking attempts. Commercial off-the-shelf software applications are widely used and well-known, which makes them more attractive targets for cybercriminals.
Custom software can give the business a competitive edge over its rivals, as it can offer unique features and functionalities that are not available in commercial off-the-shelf software applications. Custom software can also enhance the client’s brand identity and reputation by showcasing that it is innovative and has embraced digital transformation.
Custom software development—challenges
Useful though the custom software development process may be for developing and creating custom software, it can also pose challenges, such as:
Custom software development can be more expensive than purchasing commercial off-the-shelf software. It requires time, resources, and expertise to design, develop, test, and deploy custom software. The company also has to bear the maintenance and support costs of the custom software throughout its lifecycle.
Custom software development can involve more risk than commercial off-the-shelf software, as it depends on the quality and reliability of the development team and the development process. The development team must have the necessary skills, experience, and tools to develop custom software to a high-quality standard that meets the client’s expectations and requirements.
Custom software development can pose compatibility issues with existing software systems or platforms that the client uses. The development team has to ensure that the custom software can integrate seamlessly with the legacy software solutions, data sources, and other software applications that are essential to the client’s business operations. Existing software systems or platforms may also need to be updated or upgraded to ensure compatibility with the custom software.
Custom software development—mitigating the risks
While there are certainly some risks related to developing custom software, the benefits certainly seem to outweigh them, and the risks can be mitigated. The main way to mitigate the risks associated with custom software development is by choosing a reliable partner who can manage custom enterprise application development. Take a closer look at various custom software development companies. What kind of software development projects have they been involved in? What software engineers do they have on staff? What can you learn about their development processes? Who have the software development companies worked with? Are they satisfied with the custom software applications delivered?
Custom software development costs
As for cost management, first ask many software development companies for a quotation on your software development project. See how their pricing compares to the answers to the above questions. Find the one that can deliver software on time and of the best quality while staying within your budget. A major factor in pricing is the way that the customized software development project is paid for:
Fixed price contracts
The custom software development company receives a fixed payment for delivering finished software solutions. This is predictable, but inflexible since any changes to the project require a renegotiation of the price.
Time & Materials (T&M) contracts
Many custom software development companies use this model, in which the client pays for the time spent by software developers and for the software solutions necessary to complete the project. This is a very flexible arrangement, but the costs can easily spiral out of control.
Quoted Time & Materials (QT&M) contracts
This is a compromise solution in which the software development company offers a quote for completing a stage of the work, based on the estimated time and materials needed for its completion.
Custom software development—conclusions
Custom software development is not a one-size-fits-all solution but can be a rewarding and worthwhile investment for organizations that have specific and complex business needs that cannot be met by commercial off-the-shelf software. Custom software development services can offer greater efficiency, scalability, security, and a competitive advantage, enhance customer experience and office productivity, and help a business to achieve its strategic objectives.