Wouldn’t it be great to have technology that fits your business exactly as you need it to?
Of course. That’s what custom software is for.
But most business leaders won’t even consider it. Why? Because there are too many misconceptions surrounding custom software. These outdated ideas are misleading owners and managers about a better option. Meanwhile, their competition may be taking advantage of a key tech differentiator.
Keep reading to learn how these myths came to be (and why they’re no longer true) and how any size business can take advantage of custom software.
Myth 1: Custom software is expensive and only for large enterprises.
Partial truth behind the myth: Custom software can be expensive. And in the past, only large businesses had the resources necessary to build enterprise-wide software systems designed to handle multiple aspects of a complex business.
The truth is that modern technology and agile development allow custom software projects to fit any size project and budget. It’s more affordable and efficient to build software than ever before.
And, you don’t have to build comprehensive or complex software to add value for your business. Even simple but effective solutions can make a difference.
In fact, we recommend that businesses start small.
Identify the processes that will have the biggest impact on your productivity and prioritize them. What parts of your business are the most frustrating? What’s the most time-consuming?
Focusing on small incremental improvement over time can ensure you stay within budget and get a faster return on your investment. You don’t need to change everything at once and take on a project worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Read more about how successful businesses build custom software over off-the-shelf.
Myth 2: Custom software takes too long to develop.
Partial truth behind the myth: Custom software can take longer to implement than an off-the-shelf solution, especially for a complex enterprise solution.
The truth is that custom software development doesn’t happen overnight. But, that doesn’t mean it takes months or years to develop either.
There are a few approaches that can “speed up” the software development life cycle like:
- Start with a minimum viable product (MVP) – Build the least amount of features needed to solve a problem
- Leverage existing software – Don’t build everything from scratch and use other software as part of your solution
- Use semi-custom software – Use pre-built software modules that are highly configurable to an individual business.
Each of these approaches shortens the time required to develop custom software, without sacrificing functionality or value.
Read real stories about how small businesses use these approaches to build custom software.
Myth 3: Your custom solution won’t work, and you’ll waste time and money.
Partial truth behind the myth: In the past, it was risky to invest in custom solutions. You didn’t have full confidence that they would work as hoped.
The truth is that if your technology partner has a user-driven development process, you’re likely to get a solution that works.
But it wasn’t always this way. In the past, software developers would have little to no interaction with end-users during a lengthy development process.
It worked like this: the development team has tons of meetings with stakeholders, they disappear for a long time while they build, and then they reappear with a finished product. Sometimes it worked as hoped, but often it didn’t.
Fortunately, the agile method for software development changed this.
This user-driven method makes a critical change from its predecessors: developers iterate on small parts of the solution at a time and make changes based on user feedback.
This frequent communication between stakeholders, users, and a development team throughout the whole process ensures the product turns out as expected.
Learn more about how SPARK delivers quality software through communication and best practices.
Myth 4: Your solution will eventually break down and won’t evolve with your business.
Partial truth behind the myth: If you don’t allocate any resources to maintenance and improvement, your solution can’t evolve and will (likely) eventually break down.
The truth is that your custom solution can be a good long-term investment. It can evolve with your business and won’t break down, if you allocate resources to it.
A custom solution already fits the exact needs of your business and you can continue to build on it to do whatever you need.
However, your software needs regular maintenance to support new improvements. Neglect is the biggest culprit in why custom solutions break down over time.
Custom software is just like any other valuable investment like a car. If you drive for 100,000 miles and never check the oil, fluids, brakes, or any other unexpected noise, it will eventually break down.
It doesn’t mean there’s anything fundamentally wrong with your car. But it still needs care and maintenance to continue to perform at its best.
Like a car, there’s a whole infrastructure (network, security, hosting, etc) supporting your solution. Routine checks ensure that it’s running smoothly. It’ll help you avoid any issues before their major problems.
To help keep up with these changes, you can keep a close working relationship with your development partner. They’ll watch for any serious issues and you can make continuous improvements with them.
Myth 5: You need to be tech-savvy to build or manage custom software.
Partial truth behind the myth: You need to be an expert on YOUR business, but not on custom software development.
The truth is that you can still build successful software projects without being a developer or being super tech-savvy!
But you do need to be an expert on your business and be ready to explain the “why” of your project to others. You’ll set the vision for the whole project.
And you need to pick the right development partner to help guide you through the process. Use these questions to see who’s the best fit for your business.
During the project, you might need to learn some new technical processes and terms along the way. It’ll help you collaborate better and make for a smoother process for everyone.
Check out our project management tips to help you prepare for building a new software project.
Getting Started with Custom Software
Ready to explore how custom software can help your business?
At SPARK, we love discussing unique project ideas and educating business leaders about the custom software process. Reach out to us and we’ll see how we can help.