When running a business in the modern world, sooner or later you are likely to face the situation where you need software to process some of your business tasks easier and faster than if they were done manually.
Let’s take one of the most common examples, the selection of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform. The question here is: Do I need to have custom software developed, or will a packaged solution work for me and my business?
To start with, it is likely that you will lean towards buying some off-the-shelf software. This could be SugarCRM or Vtiger, let’s say. …. (Not wishing to promote any of these products, these will tend to be the most popular candidates).
…And, no doubt – these products will have proven themselves to be good enough for most business situations and, of course, standard software like this may well save you a lot of precious money!
By installing the ready-to-go software you’ll get the basic customer management tools right away. In addition, you may also be able to get some plugins, providing, for example, integration with the Asterisk VoIP server, and these will be only a couple of clicks away.
Soon you will find that with a little extra effort you can customize the data you want to store in your customer database too, so it is all quite easy and “good to go”.
Custom software, in essence, can give benefits to your business if the following conditions apply:
a) You want to be better than your competitors in the market, (assuming they are using an off-the-shelf solution);
b) You want to grow and develop your business large enough to cover the costs of the custom-made system, which, as we know, can do things that standard software cannot do, and therefore can give you a good return on your investment.
Whilst the development of custom software is more expensive than buying a ready-to-go solution, the investment may well be worth it. Remember, however, that development of any custom software solution will require significant resources of energy, time and patience.
Here are some key aspects of custom-made software that you should consider:
Let’s consider the other side of the argument for a second.
Remember that under some circumstances it still might be more reasonable to stick with off-the-shelf solutions, especially for smaller businesses.
If you think this will be the case, then you need to take these factors into account:
Nowadays, no business can stay the same for ever. To survive, your business needs to adapt itself to changing market conditions. So of course, it makes sense if you also adapt your software to meet these new challenges. Let’s look at some examples below:
The software that has been developed to serve your needs does this very well. It does things in exactly the way you need, so it serves you, rather than the other way around. This is where you gain speed and efficiency.
When you are using the same software as your competitor, you cannot really outperform him by using your software. You will be using some other tools to give you competitive advantage (marketing, for example) but the software itself will do the same as it does for the competitor. By investing in your own custom software, it is likely that you will eventually outperform them, and that advantage will increase over time as you invest more into your custom system.
To develop good custom software, you first need to hire a great team that will accomplish the task. Once that team has settled down, they will be able to build a wide variety of systems, sub-systems, tools. Anything that your business requires as it grows, evolves and adapts to changing market conditions. If your primary goal is to dominate the market, then the tools you have, should help you in doing this, without putting obstacles in your way.
Always remember – Once you have a custom software solution, it will become your “business family member”, one that will live and grow with you, and require your attention and resources, particularly, nowadays, as technologies evolve not by years or months, but by days or even hours.