Throughout the years, bespoke software solutions have gained in popularity, but instead of being one of many disappearing trends, custom software is now seen as something irreplaceable for a business to prosper. It is harder to find a company that does not use bespoke software than one that does, which is understandable when you consider the fact that it can help your company differentiate itself from your competitors, and thus succeed.
What is bespoke software
You may often find it under the terms custom or tailor-made software, but what they all refer to is exactly the same – a software developed specially for your business to meet all of its specific requirements.
Nowadays, as we all rely on information technology in both our private and professional lives, various industries use bespoke software solutions on a daily basis, which helps them to improve the workflow of their companies. However, as you can probably imagine, different companies have different responsibilities and thus specifications and that is exactly why they decide to use bespoke software – saving both time and money.
Bespoke vs. off-the-shelf software
Instead of choosing bespoke you can always use off-the-shelf software which is a solution produced for the mass market. They usually offer multiple features to meet the needs of as many companies as possible, but at the end of the day, it is a unique bespoke software which can make your business stand out.
In buying commercial software, you make a compromise as its producers usually aim to respond to the most popular demands. Therefore, it offers a great number of possibilities and this is why you may pay for something you will probably never use, as it simply is not of any interest to your company. At the same time, it is almost impossible to find a mass-produced software that would meet all of your requirements, so there will always be something you have to sacrifice, a monitoring tool or project management system you need. It is clear that in the case of bespoke software, you pay for everything you need, nothing less and nothing more.
If you want to know more about the differences between bespoke and off-the-shelf software, you can find them here.
How does bespoke software work
Who else knows your business and its specifications better than yourself? As the development team aims to meet all of your requirements, collaboration is the most important thing in bespoke software development.
Creating a bespoke software solution is a long process which starts with business analysts discovering what you need and translating it for the development team. The role of a business analyst is essential as they make sure that the customers and software engineers understand each other. The next step, performed by a qualified and experienced team of developers, is coding the solution. The duration depends on the complexity of your bespoke software. Before the product goes live, it is tested either automatically or manually to make sure that what you receive is flawless and ready to use.
The agile methodology
What differentiates bespoke software development is the agile approach. It allows the development team to implement any changes that cross your mind throughout the development process of your bespoke software solution. Thanks to the agile methodology, the developers learn how to become more flexible and can thus respond to all of your requirements even if they change unpredictably.
The agile method also improves the workflow of the development team. It emphasises on giving and receiving feedback and introducing iterative short meetings which influence the productivity of the developers.
Why may businesses need bespoke software
Very often, commercial software solutions do not perform enough of the functions businesses need, it is also extremely hard to find all of the tools in a single package. It happens especially when your company is not that common like restaurants or retail stores, which makes your requirements rather specific.
Buying and managing more than one software solution seems pointless as it would take much more time and effort to achieve the goal than it would without the support of any software. Companies who decide to use bespoke, have two options:
First would be to explore bespoke solutions from scratch. This is an option for you if your company has used an off-the-shelf software in the past, but you do not find it complex enough to cover your needs or if your company has already dealt with a bespoke platform, but it no longer meets its requirements.
Second would be to evaluate your current software. With time, many businesses transform and discover they need to meet different demands. If you already use a software solution, the development team can easily upgrade it, adding new tools and upgrading already existing functions.
Advantages of bespoke software
The very first thing that makes bespoke software unique is the efficiency it enables your company to achieve. The reason for this is that every business functions differently and, as I have already mentioned, it is almost impossible for an off-the-shelf product to meet all of your demands. With a bespoke solution, you do not need to make any compromises and can use any tool you need, which influences your efficiency and productivity.
Another value of bespoke platforms is its speed. Commercial solutions can very often clog the system with unneeded options, which slows down your work, while a bespoke software contains all the features you need and nothing more, which makes the management process simpler and thus quicker.
The maintenance is most definitely the biggest advantage of bespoke software solutions. No matter how experienced software engineers can be, no software is bugless and that is why a bespoke software will always be better than a commercial one. After your bespoke solution goes live, the software development company makes sure you are satisfied with your product, fixing every bug you report.
If you want to discover more benefits of bespoke software, I have described them here.
Disadvantages of bespoke software
The main disadvantage of going bespoke is time. There is no doubt that buying a mass-produced solution gives you the possibility to start using it right away, while a software development process may take months. The process includes discussing with business analysts, designing and coding the solution. After the product is developed, it is tested in order to detect any bugs introduced by software developers. Fixing them may even extend the waiting time. However, off-the-shelf software packages may contain bugs as well. The difference is, it is much more difficult to report and fix them.
Another downside of buying a bespoke software is cost. As the solution is developed especially for your company, its cost depends on the complexity. It is also higher than the price of off-the-shelf product due to the agile method (meaning that you can change your requirements during the development process) and the maintenance (meaning that you can report bugs and have them fixed after your product is released).
TO SUM UP
Although the waiting time and the cost may be discouraging, buying a bespoke software solution is investing in your company. A custom-made product meets all of your needs and thus gives you the possibility to stand out and succeed.