How To Choose the Right Software for Your Business
If you are having trouble finding the right software for your business, it’s likely you are not alone with this problem. It could be that there are a lack of options available to you and your particular business. Every organization is different, but commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software doesn’t always address the diversity and needs of your processes.
If you can’t find out-of-the-box software that suits your particular business needs, you have 3 options:
- You can change the way you work to accommodate the new technology
- You can customize the software to meet your business’ needs and processes
- You can invest in custom software development that would be tailor-made to support your company, just the way you need it
There are many business processes that can benefit from custom software development. Even traditionally non-digital businesses use digital channels and automate processes with technology. For example, invoicing and accounting software is necessary for almost all businesses. These workflows are standard across most industries and organizations. Thus, there is little strategic value in those processes, so standard software is often sufficient. However, if you’re in the manufacturing industry, and your core business process differentiates you from your competitors, then it can be extremely valuable to have custom-designed software that supports the execution of those processes.
The goal is not simply to own custom software
Using custom software should improve your business. However, in some cases, simple changes to business operations are a reasonable option. In fact, many vendors build software with industrial best practices in mind, so tweaking your workflow might be a good idea. But sometimes, accommodating technology may lead to changes that are too radical, inconvenient, or would have a negative impact on your business.
If changing your processes to match new software is too disruptive, then it’s time to consider customizing an existing software solution. Not all ready-made software can be customized, and even if it can, in many cases, the changes may not be worth the cost. Furthermore, the final product may be cumbersome, and ultimately, disappointing.
Before committing to commission based, custom-engineered software, there are some factors to consider.
- ROI of Custom Software Engineering Services
While evaluating available software, you may find a vendor who meets your list of ‘must-have’ and ‘nice to have’ requirements. However, if you find yourself struggling to identify potential service providers, don’t settle on a vendor out of frustration. Take the ROI into account before signing the contract with a vendor, since it’s important for your business to be able to benefit from your investments in the long run.
- Time, Cost and Scope of Custom Software Development
There are 3 main factors to weigh when considering a packaged vs. bespoke software purchase, which are: cost, time, and scope.
First of all, you need to know what is financially feasible. It is wise to conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis of each system or vendor before making a choice. It’s also important to consider upfront and ongoing costs, as well as the long-term value and impact a system will have on your business. Then, you must take time into consideration and balance it with the cost against the scope of the project. Time concerns often drive businesses to make an investment in custom software — not just time-to-market or time-to-implement, but also the efficiency your company could gain with a tailored solution. By weighing budget, timeline, and scope against potential competitive advantages, you will be able to determine if you need custom software engineering services.
Types of Custom Software Engineering Services to Consider
Because no two businesses are alike, custom software engineering services are highly varied. There’s a custom software engineering service to meet your needs, whether you need to build a system from scratch, integrate existing systems, rescue a failing in-house project, or augment your own development and engineering staff.
- Software and app development can range from an on-premise to a web to a mobile solution for your business. For example, you might need an iPhone, or Android app for your field service agents. Or maybe you want to develop that as a SaaS solution to sell. Many custom software engineering firms can build both internal business software, as well as test, prototype, and build products on behalf of your company.
- Supplementary IT resources, which are often provided by software engineering firms. Whenever you have a short-term or one-off project that requires high-skilled engineers, you can use these services to augment your own IT team. Getting outside help can decrease start-up time and increase both productivity and quality of work. Some examples of additional IT resources you may want to hire on an as-needed basis include: a mobile developer, a game developer, a web developer, a Scrum master, etc.
- Project rescue is necessary when your software development project is in trouble. This is where software engineering firms can step in and analyze what went wrong, and report the best methodology to reduce additional time expenses and drive the project to completion.
- Enterprise solutions and integrations are complex, which is why custom ERP or CRM software may be necessary. In some cases, you may simply need a system integration. A custom software engineering services firm can address both enterprise needs.
- Ongoing support is sometimes needed after a project is completed. These services include application lifecycle management (development, maintenance, management, migration) as well as support and maintenance.
How to Choose Custom Software Engineering Services
It’s not so easy to choose a custom software engineering firm. Ideally, you should choose someone with whom you can form a long-term partnership in case any issues arise or you have future additional needs. When searching for software engineering services, here are some differentiators that will help you pinpoint what to look for when choosing your partner:
- Purpose:If you’re building an enterprise CRM, you’ll need a very different team from when you’re building a game. If your project is industry-specific or extremely specialized, you might want to consider choosing a niche service provider. That way, you’ll have a subject-matter expert on your side.
- Business vs. Consumer: When designing software for consumers, you’ll need different knowledge and skill sets than the ones required when building a system for business users. These two projects are completely different, so it’s worth the effort to explore your options until you find a vendor with relevant experience.
- Cloud or On-premise: How do you plan to deploy your software? What other applications do you need? Once you know how you implement your custom software, you will be able to narrow the market of service providers.
- Add-on Services: What else does the firm offer, besides custom software development? Perhaps you may want to add IT consulting services to your project, to help you with security and risk management, or maybe you need data analysts and strategists to help you derive insights from your business data. Depending on the scope of your project and your own staff’s expertise, it won’t be a bad idea to find custom software engineering service providers that also offer complementary IT services.
As you become more and more familiar with the type of IT services you need, as well as additional specialty differentiators required for the project, you will significantly narrow down your list of service providers. It’s then up to you to put in your due diligence and check the track record of every service provider you’re considering.