4 Things to Consider before Developing a Custom Software Solution

A suit tailored specifically for you always fits better than one you buy off the rack. The same is true for software customized for your business. It meets your business’s needs perfectly, giving you exactly what you want and nothing you don’t. But for many businesses, especially small-to-mid-sized businesses (SMBs), the idea of developing customized software is a little daunting. Will it be too expensive? How do you choose a developer? What should you expect? And the question that many SMBs grapple with: Do you really need it? After all, that off-the-rack suit will do the job just fine, won’t it?

Here are a few things to think about when contemplating developing a customized software solution for your business.

Does your company need customized software?

For many SMBs, this is the big question. Do you really have needs that off the shelf business software can’t cover? Unless you’re a niche business with unique needs, it’s difficult to know whether the investment in customized software will bring the kind of return on investment you’re looking for.

To get some clarity on this, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do your employees spend an excessive amount of time on paperwork and other manual processes?
  • Is your current system up to date and ready for modification as technology evolves?
  • Are you making the best use of your data? Is your data searchable, useful and working for you
  • Are your processes streamlined,or are you still plugging away on decades-old ways of doing things?
  • Is your customer service suffering because you can’t keep up with your growing customer base as a result of an inadequate software solution?
  • Is your business outgrowing your current software system?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, a custom software solution may be right for your business.Custom software can make your day-to-day processes and procedures more efficient, quicker and more accurate, leaving your employees time to focus on higher-level projects. Since it’s designed specifically for your business,  by definition it is not one-size-fits-all. Instead, it is designed to meet your own unique needs.

Understanding your pain points is also the first step in clarifying what you want your custom software to do. When you meet with your development team, you’ll need these pain points and possible fixes as a roadmap for designing exactly the solution your business needs.

Will it be too expensive?

Creating customized software might be right for companies like Google, but will SMBs see a return on their development investment? That tailored suit will run you more money than one you buy off the rack, so is it the same with software? The answer is yes and no. Assembling a team of internal developers is going to put a dent in your bottom line, but working with a software development company isn’t as expensive as you might think.

ROI

If you’re not the CEO or owner of your company, you’ll have to get buy-in from top leadership to justify the expense of software development and the training everyone will need to get up to speed. What’s the best way to get that buy-in? Return On Investment (ROI). You need to prove to higher-ups that developing custom software will have a positive return on investment. Some things to think about:

  • How much time will the software save your team?
  • Can you measure ROI via tangible factors like increased sales, leads or conversions?
  • Will new hardware be required or is your current system adequate?
  • Will custom software reduce downtime and maintenance issues?

By showing that the investment in custom software will increase efficiency, streamline processes and create opportunities for things like increased sales and customer service, you can convince higher-ups to share in your vision and take the plunge.

Choosing a development team

One you’ve determined that a custom software solution is right for your business and have buy-in from higher-ups, it’s time to start looking for a team of developers to get cracking on the project. Before you start casting a wide net, it’s useful to think about what you want your development team to look like and how best to work together.

Some questions to ask when you’re interviewing teams and getting quotes for your project:

  • Are they willing to do a deep dive into your business? The whole idea is to create a custom solution for your business, so the first step needs to be your team listening and learning your business, inside and out.
  • Are they based in the U.S.? You may be able to find developers in other countries that can do your project for half the cost, but remember the old saying: You get what you pay for. You might think you’re getting a bargain, but end up with a product that will require lots of fixes. Also, the time zone factor plays into things. U.S.-based developers work when you work.
  • Will your data be secure? You are trusting an outside firm with your company’s intellectual property. Make sure your team has non-disclosure agreements in place.
  • What are the team’s qualifications? Many development firms hire only those with four-year degrees in computer science, while other firms may employ less formally trained developers.
  • How long has the company been in business? In this age when seemingly every tween can write code, look for a development company that has some history and roots.
  • What is their communication style? How transparent will the process be? Will you be involved along the way, or are you going to be handed a product without much input?

By doing some thinking and planning upfront, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running with your software development partners when it comes time to get to work. Questions? Contact us at Saturn Systems.


About Saturn Systems

Saturn SystemsSaturn Systems is an entirely U.S. based software engineering firm that provides a broad range of services, from project-based development and quality assurance testing to fully integrated staff augmentation teams. Saturn's Rural Outsourcing model couples the lower cost of doing business in Duluth, MN, with an experienced engineering team - making Saturn an attractive alternative to high-priced metro firms and the inherent difficulties of offshore services.

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