Bespoke software (sometimes known as custom software or tailor-made software) refers to software that has been specially designed for a particular business or organisation to perform customized functions that are particular to the needs of the business in question.
In this sense it differs from off-the-shelf software products, which are generally designed to meet the requirements of as many different users as possible. This means that their features and functions are far more general, and the only ones that are included are those that are deemed to be of use to the majority of customers.
No two organisations are identical
For the consumer market, then this of course works well enough. But, the business world is very different. No two organisations are identical, and, as such, it can be pretty much impossible to find off-the-shelf software solutions that match your business requirements precisely.
And this, of course, is where bespoke software development comes in. Commissioning a bespoke software solution in some cases may not just be the best option, but the only sensible option for your business if it is to continue to grow and expand in any meaningful way.
Importantly, bespoke software solutions are nothing to be afraid of. They needn’t necessarily be overly large or at all complex. In fact, in most cases, businesses commission the building of bespoke software that are simply a set of very basic but nonetheless vital tools that have been created very specifically to match their particular requirements. They will normally include all key functionalities such as databases, web-based solutions, desktop applications, and of course mobile and tablet apps.
But, what is so attractive about bespoke development is of course the fact that it allows you, the customer, to determine precisely what functionality you require, how the system will perform, and even how it will look.
While it is of course true that having a bespoke development solution built for your business will inevitably cost you more money than if you went for an off-the-shelf option and attempted to make do, the truth is that your custom made system will inevitably pay for itself via the increase in productivity. Indeed, a well made bespoke software solution should see a meaningful ROI very quickly, especially if the added functionality that you have had especially incorporated means that your staff are freed up to concentrate on other more critical (and profitable) areas of the business.
Does My Business Need A Bespoke Software Solution?
Making the decision as to whether your business actually needs bespoke software can actually be quite daunting. There are of course, generally speaking, greater costs involved – especially in the initial outlay – not to mention the difficulties you will face in deciding precisely what you want, or indeed who the best people for the job of building it will be.
The Benefits Of Bespoke Software For Your Business
The clothes that fit the best (aside from your birthday suit) are always going to be the ones that have been tailored to fit your precise measurements. Small, medium, large, extra-large – these are inevitably arbitrary sizes, and never ever seem to quite hug your figure or hang as loose as you would like them to. Blazers may have too many pockets, trousers none at all, and shoes will hurt your feet despite the fact that they’re supposedly your exact size.
Similarly, off-the-shelf software can be as ill-fitting, uncomfortable and unflattering to your business as off-the-shelf clothing can be to your dangly bits. Bespoke software, on the other hand, is always tailor-made to your exact specifications so that it will always fit your business snugly and comfortably so that it best serves your needs.
When buying off-the-shelf software, it is very common for businesses to quickly find that what they have just bought the license for simply is just not suitable for their requirements. When you go for bespoke software, it is almost guaranteed to be the perfect fit for your business.
Custom software is very easily scalable. This is because the bespoke software developers will normally work on a contractual basis, and will usually continue to maintain your platform as it needs to grow in size alongside your business. Put simply, a bespoke package will meet the needs of your business whatever its present size, meaning that your business can grow (or, indeed, shrink) as necessary without ever being limited by the capability or scalability of your software.
IT security is of paramount importance to the modern business – and, quite often, absolute peace of mind over the matter can indeed be extremely elusive. With bespoke software, should you encounter a threat, you can immediately get in contact with the developers and often the exact person – who knows what’s been built inside and out – to deal directly with the problem at hand.
What is more, bespoke software is much less attractive to potential hackers, as it is, by nature, largely an unknown realm as opposed to the vulnerabilities of the more commonly used software which are easier to find and will require much less effort.
4. Application Compatibility
If you use bespoke software, then it is far easier to get bespoke applications built that are compatible with it as well. Furthermore, when the software is built it can be immediately configured to run with any applications that your business already uses. This is of great benefit, for it is a very rare case that your off-the-shelf software will be able to interact with your applications without encountering numerous and continuing errors. To do is to sacrifice on productivity as employees will inevitably run into a mountain of system errors, which will mean that they will not be able to effectively complete their work. Bespoke software defeats this problem from the outset, and can be built so that it fits in perfectly with your current business software ecosystem.
5. Guaranteed Longevity
Bespoke software will be maintained and upgraded for as long as you require it. This is a different case with licensed software, which may not produce an upgrade for some time, leaving the productivity of your business to be stuck in the dark ages whilst your competitors continue to innovate and press ahead. What is more, if the software company you are purchasing from decides to stop providing support for or maintaining a particular application (or perhaps even goes out of business), then you will be left in a position where you will have to change your complete system so that your software can continue to be supported and maintained – a sudden unthinkable expense for your business, in terms of money, as well as time, resources and security.
6. Savings On Hardware Costs
Having bespoke software built to suit the hardware that you are already using means that you save on the cost of having to acquire new stuff. Some off-the-shelf software requires you to purchase the latest hardware in order for it to run effectively. Tailor made software will be built for your hardware, with the developer being fully aware of its capabilities, ultimately saving you headaches and your business money.
Choosing a Bespoke Software Developer
So, if you’ve decided that your software requirements have outgrown your current resources, and that having some bespoke software built for your business is the right move for you, then it’s time to start seeking out the perfect partner who will provide the right solution for you.
This can in fact be quite a tricky endeavour. There is certainly a wealth of developers out there to choose from, many of whom claim to provide both the provision of bespoke software as well selling licences. You want to avoid these if you possibly can. The expertise that these sort of half-way house companies can provide will be nothing compared to those whose sole focus is on developing bespoke software.
It is also best if you try and avoid any company that offshores any significant amount of its coding work. Whilst this may prove to be the cheapest option, you will inevitably encounter lots of problems.
For starters, there is the inevitable language barriers that will have to be overcome, not to mention the time difference (unless you want to get up regularly at 3am in the morning to consult with your developer then you will have to just leave the job up to them and hope for the best). Indeed, not being able to have face-to-face conferences with your development team can quite easily lead to you ending up with something that you do not want.
Nearshoring to regions like Poland is a pretty good compromise – you will get the work done cheaper than if you scoured the domestic market, but you won’t have to compromise so much on language, cultural and time differences. And Poland is currently producing some top quality graduates with coding degrees, as is the Ukraine, so looking there is not a bad bet.
No matter where you source your bespoke software development, it will naturally take much longer to implement than if you just went for a ready-made product. But, the trade-off is clear – although the off-the-shelf software is ready to go now, what you lose in time you will gain in a very specific solution that will be tailored to do exactly what you want it to, and that will ultimately save you time and money in the long run.