Any company today, regardless of the industry or niche, utilises software in some capacity to perform business operations. Often, the IT infrastructure of the organisation becomes the determining factor of how fast the company grows and how successful it becomes.
Throughout the years of working with startups and small businesses that required software development by Empha soft, we’ve seen the difference that the custom software makes for these enterprises, and today we’d like to highlight the key reasons why building a solution from scratch for your company can be a life changer.
Key benefits of custom software for small businesses
It seems that there is already a solution for every possible need on the market these days. So why would someone want to develop custom software for their small business?
Despite the strong competition from the existing alternatives, custom software development offers many unique benefits.
Complete match with the company’s needs
Unlike the ready-made software that could have been designed with a different purpose in mind, a custom solution is completely in sync with your company’s objectives and can be tailored to the most specific requirements that none of the external vendors would be willing to entertain. It guarantees that no operations and processes are unsupported, just as there are no features that nobody is using but everyone is paying for.
If it’s your software, only you decide what new features are released and when, and what integrations the product supports. With purchased software, companies become dependent on vendors and are often forced to wait months (if not years) before the functionality they need becomes available. This creates additional inconvenience to the business, putting both profits and customers at risk.
Software solutions are deeply integrated into the company’s operations. With a custom solution built in-house, the company has full control of the future direction of the product, but also where it’s stored, and the security measures that are used.
Unlike large enterprises that are able to weather the storm and survive, smaller companies are much more susceptible to negative and unpredictable events. They are less stable and have to work extra hard to keep up the pace and remain afloat. That’s why when it comes to software, a homegrown alternative that ticks all the boxes is preferable to an off-the-shelf solution.
Besides the perks of flexibility and control, custom software unlocks a lot of efficiency. Having a solution that is 100% tailored to your needs and being able to release new features anytime is not just cool and convenient. It makes the business more efficient.
The team’s performance comprises many little things that often have to do with technology that employees use on a daily basis. If you look at each minor improvement individually – it won’t seem impressive. Yet, cumulatively all these workflow enhancements create a real change and help the business surpass the competition.
And, as a bonus to better performance, efficiency through custom software often results in reduced operational costs, because employees waste less time and focus on value-generating tasks more.
The custom solution that the company owns is more secure than a third-party alternative on the web. The business knows exactly where the data is stored and what kind of protective measures are in place. Naturally, the company needs to hire an expert in security to ensure it’s doing everything possible to protect the information, and it can be pricey because the small business does not benefit from economies of scale. Still, anyone who has sensitive data and/or falls under compliance are usually better off with custom homegrown software.
Before you start the custom development process
You’ll need to be able to translate business needs into software requirements.
Depending on how well you are able to do that, the MVP development and the final results will either be a success or a huge waste of time and money. As you brainstorm future solution ideas, work with the tech department and developers to make sure your vision is consistent and that there are technologies out there that can turn it into a reality.
Next, understand that the project doesn’t stop with the release – you’ll need to have someone run periodic updates and upgrades, rolling out new features and removing bugs and vulnerabilities.
Answer the following questions:
- How will the business position the custom software? Will it be internal only or customer-facing? It is important because a lot will depend on the positioning, from design to features to marketing.
- What technology is key for business in the new solution? This will affect who you hire and what skills they possess (such as knowledge of a particular programming language, potential patents, and the project’s timeline.
- Are there enough resources to run the project in-house or do you need to partner with a software development company? Depending on your in-house expertise, you might want to outsource part or all of the work to a professional. Yet, if your team has all the skills and knows the right tools to ensure seamless development, you can choose to build the software fully internally.
- How does the future solution align with the long-term goals of the company? Will it be necessary 3-5 years down the line? If so, how would you integrate long-term goals in the current development to ensure it is beneficial to the business down the line?
Make sure you have the following defined:
- Target audience
Without clear objectives, your custom software development will be doomed to become a black hole that will suck out the resources without necessarily giving something in return. Same with budget – if you don’t control the project’s spending, the spending will control you and your business. And lastly, it’s virtually impossible to build an excellent product without having a very clear idea of who your client is. Trust us, as a software development company with many years of experience, we know what we’re talking about here.
And finally, as you launch your tech project, watch out for:
- Compatibility with existing solutions – the new software must work with other critical infrastructure components, or else it makes little sense to build it.
- Scalability – you may have 100 users today, but if next year you grow up to 1000, the solution has to be able to support it.
- Data protection – from backups to cybersecurity, all aspects of data protection must be thoroughly planned.
Why do companies hesitate to build custom software?
Despite all benefits, creating a fully custom solution is not all fun and games.
Many companies, especially those with limited resources, hesitate to launch such a project for a selection of reasons:
- It is expensive
- It is a time-consuming and lengthy process
- The cost outweighs the earning potential
- There are no skilled developers to do the job
- No guarantee the final product will be better than existing options
- Cybersecurity threat – custom software may be more vulnerable
Just like all other opportunities in life and business, custom digital products carry risks as well as benefits. It’s good to know what potential threats are out there when making a decision. And if you decide to go ahead, you can work through these known risks to minimise and avoid them on your journey. For example, if your clients access your services via a website, you can implement the latest security recommendations to minimise the risk of data leaks.
Final thoughts on custom software for small businesses
Custom software brings a lot of benefits but it also carries risks. And at the end of the day, nobody knows what will work best for your situation – a purchased software or the one you’ve built from scratch in-house. Developing a custom solution can transform your business beyond your wildest dreams and help you scale sustainably and build long-term success.
However, this path is not an easy one, and it will require more than simply resources, but excellent project management skills, and a lot of patience. So, before you embark on a custom solution journey, especially if you’re not using the services of an experienced software development company, make sure you do your homework and research every step of the way so there are no surprises.