Does a unique business need unique software to stand out from its competitors? Is custom software right for your business? What are the benefits of investing in bespoke software development? And what on earth is custom software anyway?
To help answer these customised conundrums here’s our guide to everything you need to know about custom software development, including no less than eight reasons why it could make a positive difference to your business.
- What is custom software?
- What are the benefits of investing in custom software development?
- Improve efficiency
- Integration with existing apps
- Competitive advantage
- Robust security
- The business case for your custom software development
- Direct savings
- Indirect savings
- Your custom software development solution
What is custom software?
In a nutshell, custom software is the opposite of off-the-shelf software. Rather than a one-size-fits-all solution to software requirements common to many businesses, custom (or bespoke) software is developed to meet the exact specification and needs of one business.
It’s the software equivalent of buying an off-the-peg suit versus being fitted for a custom suit. Sure, an off-the-peg suit might fit well generally, but it could be a little long in the arms. A custom suit, however, would not only fit like a glove, but it could also be personalised with your initials embroidered in Comic Sans font on the breast pocket. Nice.
What are the benefits of investing in custom software development?
The wonderful thing about custom software development is, in many ways, it’s up to you what the exact benefits will be. In the early stages of the project, you can work alongside the software development team to define a specification that meets the specific needs of your business.
To help give you an idea of how custom software can help your business, here are eight benefits to whet your appetite.
You know those vital but time-consuming data entry-type tasks that take ages to complete thanks to fiddly software with laborious processes? Well, custom software can make them a distant memory as it can be coded to make the process quicker and easier to complete.
By automating or streamlining your workflows, you’ll see improvements to efficiency and productivity, as it can free up time to concentrate your efforts on other areas of the business that may be more profitable.
As your business grows it’s possible that off-the-shelf software will no longer be fit for purpose. This is because it might not have the technological bells and whistles you need to complete daily tasks without paying for additional plug-ins, updates, or apps.
Custom software, however, is developed to scale in line with your future growth. In other words, it’s flexible enough to grow in line with your business.
Integration with existing apps
One issue with off-the-shelf software is the challenge of integrating it with other applications. Sometimes, the different pieces of the software jigsaw puzzle don’t quite fit, leaving you with a system that underperforms or just plain doesn’t work.
Custom software bypasses this problem, as it is developed to work seamlessly with – or outright replace – the applications you need it to work with. Ensuring compatibility is as simple as giving the software development team a list of applications you need to run your business.
If you and your competitors are all using the same software, it can make it harder to differentiate between your brands. Custom software development gives you an opportunity to stand out from the crowd by offering something different.
For example, it can be developed to support your unique products or services or to improve your customers’ UX journey – all of which will help give you a competitive advantage.
According to research1, 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalised experiences. Custom software helps you achieve this by giving you the flexibility to directly address their unique needs. As a general rule, the more bespoke their needs, the more likely it is you will need a bespoke solution.
Cybersecurity threats in the UK are on the rise. In 2020, there was a 20% increase in security breach attempts than in 2019.2 The more common a software solution is, the more likely it is that hackers are working on ways in which to crack the code and breach security.
Custom software is less vulnerable to cyber attacks for two main reasons: the security protocols are bespoke to you and not so readily available for hackers to access; and hackers are less likely to spend time hacking bespoke software used by one company when they could focus their efforts on more commonly used software, giving them access to potentially more targets.
The business case for your custom software development project
As with any business expenditure, it’s important to consider the return on investment (ROI) before making a decision. So let’s look at the ways in which custom software development can be a budget-friendly choice for your business.
Earlier we described how custom software could improve efficiency. Not only will this help boost productivity but it will also save you money. If it takes your business less time to complete tedious but necessary tasks your team will have more time to concentrate on areas that generate revenue, such as following up on leads or completing an extra project.
Plus, unlike off-the-shelf software, there are no ongoing licensing costs with custom software, which, over time, can add up to a considerable saving.
40% of employees say old workplace technology hampers their ability to work efficiently, and 10% have left a job due to technological frustrations.3
Providing your employees with easy-to-use, efficient custom software can therefore lead to a happier workforce, which can improve retention. It can also help with recruitment, as prospective employees will view you as a forward-thinking company.
Another cost-saving consideration is the elimination of errors and delays caused by older legacy software. The loss of revenue these cause over time could be more than the cost of developing your own custom software.
It’s also important to weigh up the potential impact of cyber attacks on your business. According to the latest research, UK business owners spent an average of 3.4 days managing a security breach at a cost of £1,010 in 2020. Plus, the larger the business, the larger the financial impact.
With custom software being less likely to be a target for cybercriminals, that’s a considerable saving in labour and expense.