Custom software is any program created on an ad hoc basis to meet a client’s specific needs. In business, many companies use this kind of software, especially if they require specific functionalities which are not yet widely available.
Nevertheless, customised software development can involve unexpected issues and challenges, which must be carefully assessed. The effort necessary to create personalised software is often considerable, both in terms of time and money. Having a clear idea in mind of the risks and advantages is therefore the first step towards avoiding bad investments.
Who chooses custom software?
There are two groups of entrepreneurs who stand to gain considerable benefits from the use of custom software. In the first group we find those whose business focuses on innovation, while embracing new and experimental approaches and working methods. In that case, it is essential to design a management program capable of meeting the specific needs of the new company.
The other group consists of those individuals who, after having tried ready-made solutions, now realise that their needs can only be met by custom software. In these cases, there is the option to commission an ad hoc software from scratch or to modify the system already in use.
The second category consists of those who have already invested in the purchase of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), i.e. software that performs more general functions. This is one of the first decisions that many companies make, as they are initially put off by the risks associated with commissioning customised software.
Errors to avoid when commissioning software
Anyone who decides that their company needs customised software should be fully aware of the fact that the quality of the final product depends greatly on the clarity of its original objectives.
A company director who commissions custom software from an external software house must therefore pinpoint the main functionalities the company requires and be able to provide a detailed explanation to the programmers. Furthermore, in order to avoid misunderstandings and delays, it is crucial that this person is actively involved in the executive process.
Their direct participation enables common errors to be avoided, such as the notion that the planning phase of an application is the exclusive task of the developer. Even though they may not be highly skilled in IT, the company director can monitor progress and help those working on the development of the application by offering guidance as to which direction to follow.
Another common mistake when ordering custom software, is not verifying the competence of the software house to whom you are entrusting the project beforehand. Assessing the staff’s expertise is not always easy, but in order to maximise the return on your investment it is important to do so.
Software development sector is in fact a very ‘young’ field which is full of newcomers, some of whom may lack the necessary experience to manage a well-structured project. An awareness of the programmers’ level of expertise allows the client to avoid making risky or even wrong decisions.
As we are dealing with customised software, it is impossible to have an exact preview of the finished product, but it is possible to take a look at similar applications, created by the same technicians during previous projects. This helps the client to obtain a clearer picture of the skills and abilities the chosen software house can offer.
Another important factor to take into consideration is definitely costs: accepting the cheapest offer is not normally a wise decision, in fact it can even turn out to be counterproductive. Very often, higher prices are justified by the inclusion of special functionalities, which guarantee software solutions which match requirements more closely.
Translated by Joanne Beckwith