Are there programming language or operating system restrictions?
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Will there be roll-out challenges across your company dependent upon the software in question? Lastly, keep in mind that off-the-shelf solutions target multiple customers. Because of that future enhancements will be targeted at a broader base than your specific company, and typically come at a slower pace than your business may evolve at. Your changing business needs, growth, and change within the company will continually create a balancing act between what the software can do and what you need as a business. In the long term you may find that you have to adopt concurrent manual processes alongside the software if it does not iterate quickly enough.
You have defined your business needs, desired functionality, and business processes. So instead you approach a software development company to create a custom piece of software to meet every business challenge you have: a fully-integrated solution that matches your processes perfectly. You might have to wait months or years before the application is ready for use and this — not surprisingly — requires more upfront cost.
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But the fact that a custom solution will — by its very nature — meet each of your business requirements is very powerful indeed. This distributes cost but gets you the core functionality sooner.
Staff will not need heavy retraining, nor will they have to adjust their normal work processes. The software will not become a hindrance and will instead save time, and with saving time comes saving money.
Related to how the custom software molds to your business is the fact that it can then integrate with legacy or future systems. Imagine a scenario in which you would like your website to be content managed, but you also want your site users to be able to sign up for membership features, receive newsletters from an established email service, and track their credentials and behavior in a client relationship management tool — all while simultaneously leveraging a reporting system to monitor website usage and define custom tracking tags in the content management system.
A custom software solution is the perfect candidate as part of your requirement to integrate into your tracking and email system. Additionally, because the custom software is in perfect alignment with your processes and the pulse of your business, it can give you a competitive edge over other companies.
Imagine in the scenario above how seamless insight into your customer enhances transparency, which in turn allows for quicker and more accurate decision making, while simultaneously enhancing customer experience and satisfaction. Custom software also puts you directly in touch with the software developer in what should be a lasting partnership: they effectively become part of your team, ensuring that you have the tools at your disposal to best accomplish your business needs.
Now you have direct vendor support, which leads to quicker enhancements and iterations, which naturally means that the software does not become obsolete: as your business evolves, so too does the software. And the software belongs to your business, so you do not have to wait on feature requests and enhancements. There has to be a downside, right?
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Depending on your requirements and project scope the cost is going to be measured in thousands, tens of thousands, or more — maybe much more. Your project will probably require a team of user-experience experts, designers, programmers, database engineers, quality control professionals, and so on as part of a product development lifecycle. It could be months — maybe more than a year — before you see your software.
This is the type of thing that has to be planned for as it becomes part of the future growth of your business. Their stability as a company is critical, but so too is their expertise in the field. Have they developed similar systems before? Are they taking steps to understand your business needs?
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Can the vendor support you with help-desk, updates, bug fixes, and future enhancements post launch? During the timeframe your company is working with the software developer to ensure they understand your business requirements and objectives, the correct solution is designed, you approve of the interface, features and functions, and that what is built not only works but meets your business criteria.
This requires someone on your team — perhaps a small task force — to manage this effort and the vendor during the software development lifecycle. This may not be the type of thing that you can dedicate resources to, so it is one of the important considerations when weighing the off-the-shelf vs.
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There are some commercial software packages you can buy that have after-market customizable support, which allows you to start with a strong foundational base and tweak it to fit your needs using a third-party software company who often specialize in that field. This can have the advantages of a low-cost entry and a rich feature set without being tied to the original publisher.
But this type of software is not common — minimizing choice — and the after-market customization incurs cost. Because this is a pre-packaged solution being modified after-the-fact, customization becomes less cost efficient on an exponential scale as the underlying foundation limits what can be done. Typically, this type of customization is more costly than the custom software solution described above. There is a tipping point where the desired customizations for an off-the-shelf product begin to stretch what the software can support and begin to cost more than a fully customized solution.
In this instance you would be better going the fully customized route from the beginning.
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Sometimes commercial off-the-shelf software is developed by companies with a narrower audience. These companies may be able and willing to add features and functions to the software at the request of their users.
This is a potentially good solution as it naturally tweaks a boxed solution to be more in alignment with your objectives, but the reality is that this is still a pre-packaged product and it must meet the needs of a broader audience beyond your company. For an organization to write its own software, it needs to have access to a computer engineer and somebody who knows how to write code.
Writing software is an extremely involved process that takes a lot of time and resources. The benefit of using custom-written software is that it will work exactly the way the organization wants it to. The organization gets to dictate the layout and functions of the software themselves. Also, custom-written software helps keep sensitive information within the company, as information on purchased software could potentially be obtained by an unwanted third party. Home Technology Software. What Are Some Examples of Shareware?
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