With the onset of the pandemic, the economy flow has majorly hit almost all the markets and has resulted in the slowing down (in some cases dying down) of the cash-flow.
This has definitely impacted the future of custom software development because people are yet not clear as to when, why, and how custom development should be used. This is why they are scared to do innovations or personalizations of their own when the return of investment has gotten close to nothing.
But we also need to know that this pandemic has changed the lives, lifestyles, and choices of people (customers/clients) and whatever needs to be done will have to be done in a new way i.e. through custom software development.
What is going on right now is not at all a permanent solution and in fact is just one of those human attempts to patch-up holes of a sinking ship with whatever they have in hand. One must realize that this won’t hold for too long. These solutions that we have right now are only to provide us enough time to think and find a better solution for our customers and clients.
The sooner businesses realize this, the better because if you don’t then your competitor will. This is why I am going to let you know how important custom developed solutions can be and for that, we will have to begin from the beginning.
Table of Contents
What is custom software development
Custom software development is the process of designing software that is developed specifically to solve recurring problems within an organization or geography or demography that can’t be solved by generic software or any other existing ones. Custom software is made to ensure that all your particular preferences and requirements are accommodated.
Since technology space is highly unpredictable, it is involuntarily making the market tougher and competitive. This is because technology impacts the preferences of employees and customers both.
This unpredictability puts pressure on the businesses to quickly change according to the new trends of the market, without giving them much choice. And more the time a business takes to change, costlier it becomes for them.
It is this reason many companies are calling out custom software development companies to help them in building an intuitive and user-friendly software product tailored to their business requirements.
Why choose custom software development
Emerging markets and changing consumer preferences put pressure on the companies to take the help of technologies to stay ahead in the competition. Here are the major reasons why businesses choose custom software development solutions.
Lack of single software and databases for critical tasks
Companies using packaged software have the major disadvantage of not performing all the tasks on the same software. They use multiple types of software to perform a wide range of tasks, which may cause engagement and security problems. The major impact of using multiple types of software and databases is that they are not able to generate insight into business operations which is the key to making accurate business decisions.
The Dearth of Future-Ready Software
Your business is growing and investing in an off-the-shelf software means that restricting your growing businesses to a limited set of functions. With custom software development, you get the scalability options, means the functions and capabilities of your software grow as your business grows. In the market, there is a huge dearth of scalable, future-ready software products that can be scaled according to individual customer requirements.
Custom software application development companies provide a range of options for integrating different types of APIs. Most of the packaged software is not compatible with other programs and so integrating another software to enhance its capabilities are not possible. It is this reason; many companies prefer custom software applications over canned software.
Personalization is a major advantage of investing in proprietary systems. A reliable custom software development company can build software applications specific to the requirement of the business. The application can strictly be tailored to a set of processes followed by the company, wherein business leaders can be provided with full access and control.
An application on the Internet is exposed to constant security breaches. Although every company takes measures to safeguard their software products against exploitation by hackers, the current situation is still worse. By engaging with a reputed custom software application development company, businesses can take added measures to prevent their data from hackers and disgruntled employees.
How to choose a Custom Software development Company
Choosing the right custom software development company is key to achieving success, and since there are numerous options to choose from, the task can be challenging for business owners. Any mistakes in selecting a company can result in a big setback for the organization because it is impossible to make up the lost time, which can damage business prospects.
Your search for a software development company could be fruitful by following the tips discussed here.
Look for references
Search your network to get referrals for software development companies from friends, colleagues, and industry folks so that you get a quick list of tested resources that saves time in selection. Since every referral is based on the experience of customers, you get honest feedback that helps pinpoint the company that suits your requirements the most and matches your budget.
Check the credentials and portfolio of the companies
After making a shortlist of companies, look deeper to understand their capabilities in working on projects similar to yours. The experience of the company is an important indicator of their abilities because more work done indicates that the company has developed a tried and tested methodology that delivers results. Moreover, the company with more experience is more confident of overcoming challenges as it has experienced varied challenges than newer companies. Consider your project size to ensure that the companies you have in mind agree to accept it because many companies set limits about the project sizes they handle.
Understand software systems
You must have some basic ideas about different software systems and architecture like UNIX and Windows. Based on the characteristics, decide the technology upon which you want to build your software application. Also, consider the extent of expertise and experience the company has about the chosen technology. This is especially important if you have a preference for any specific software system. It would be a wise idea to invest in a software consultant for the same if you are unaware of these things. They can help you out in planning your custom application and work with the resources working on the project for you.
The completion time of the project is especially important because it should give you ample time to test the software and remove bugs, if any as well as train your employees about its use so that they can be comfortable with it. Choose a company that has a proven track record of timely completion of projects and include all factors that would make you confident of launching the application for a smooth takeoff.
Focus on communication skills
The project of software development is a collaborative exercise, and there must be a clear flow of communication to and from the vendor to maintain transparency about the project so that all stakeholders are on the same page. The initial communication should be in a written down format and if the development company or resources you are working with do not sit with you to create a proper document with requirements and a user story verified by you, then you need to rethink about your choice no matter how experienced they might be. Also, getting regular updates will help to thrash out problems before it can blow out.
Decisions you should take before beginning custom software development
Choosing the right technology stack
The technology stack includes all the programming languages, frameworks, and tools that are used during development to create your product. Defining them beforehand is crucial as you need to know what expertise your development partner should have.
Selecting the right SDLC
SDLC stands for software development life cycle, and it is the framework that a development company follows during the development process. Basically, it is a set of tasks that have to be fulfilled at every stage.
It can be a variety of approaches a development company may be using, focusing on the two most common ones: the Waterfall model and the Agile software development cycle methodology. (The latter is to be preferred)
Determining the development budget
There are tons of articles dedicated to calculating software development costs, and they may even contradict one another. some technologies and APIs are proprietary, and you’ll need to pay for using them in your solution. There is no universal answer to the question “How much does custom software cost?”. So, we recommend you to either get a professional estimation for the software development budget or request a quote from a potential development partner.
Custom software risks and how to address them
Any business endeavour implies taking risks, and custom software development is no exception. There is a number of things that could go wrong, so you need to make sure your risk management is on top to avoid the worst-case scenario.
So, how do you ensure quality in the software you create? There are some risks you need to be aware of.
Source code ownership
It seems obvious that you own every part of your solution, right? Well, it’s not always the case. Depending on the company and its policies, it may turn out that it owns your source code, not you. Besides, sometimes, software development agencies include the source code in the pricing but don’t provide you with everything you might need to hire another development company afterwards (for support and maintenance, for instance).
So, your development partner says they can finish your solution in five months. This may mean one of four things:
- It will be ready for launch in exactly five months.
- They say what you want to hear, but there’s no guarantee the deadline will be met.
- They’ll try to meet this deadline even though their experience says more time is needed.
- They have never worked on a project like yours and have no idea whether the deadline can be met.
Surely, the first option is the most desirable one out of all. To avoid the other three, we suggest you get a third-party timeline estimate and make sure the development partner has experience in your type of projects. Besides, always account for potential unforeseen circumstances that may slow development down.
Just like the deadlines, the cost you are promised isn’t always the amount of money you’ll have to pay eventually, especially if you opt for the Time & Material model. As frustrating as it is, you will have to deal with this with the 99% probability.
First of all, you’ll need to come to terms with the fact that it’s a very rare case when you can estimate the cost up to a dollar. So, make sure your budget has a room for unforeseen expenses.
If your budget is tight, prioritizing certain features will help you stay within it – during the development, you’ll be able to refuse the not-so-important functionality to save your budget.
So, you get your final product, but you are frustrated with how it turned out. This is a quite plausible scenario, yet it’s easily avoidable.
To make sure this is not going to be your case scenario, you need to do three things:
- Pinpoint your own expectations and present them as the objectives and outcomes you’re after.
- Make sure your requirements are clear to the development partner.
- Keep your hand on the pulse of development and check the work in progress to make changes if needed and possible.
Your journey from a feature list to the final product
You shouldn’t feel lost during this journey – if you do, you won’t be efficient enough to make it stress-free and predictable enough. The basic outline of any software development process consists of six main stages. Let’s take a quick look at each of them.
Don’t jump into outlining your requirements just yet. You need to understand why you need this particular product or, in other words, what end-users’ needs it will meet – this will be the core of your strategy.
Prioritized feature list
Now you need to pinpoint what exactly your solution will do. To do this, think about how your end users’ will interact with your app. We suggest you follow the user persona formula to make sure this list will be clear to developers: As a [user type], I want to [achieve a certain goal] in order to [the reason].
This is the stage where the UX designer views your feature list and creates the solution’s architecture and its flow. Based on the user story, architecture and flow, the project head will breakdown the project in terms of the technical requirements that would go into the making of your software.
Also known as the sprint plan or development schedule, it reflects the timeline of the development process. It is created by the development team, but your involvement is necessary as well.
In order to plan the development, you need to estimate how long the whole process will take by evaluating the number of hours required for each feature and any extra tasks (daily meetings, etc.). Based on the number of hours, development is divided into iterations, and you determine which features get developed during each iteration. Iterations are usually one or two weeks long.
There are several things you need to make sure of before launching the release you’ve got:
- Load testing to make sure your product will handle the number of users.
- Technical maintenance to ensure you have someone to fix bugs and errors as soon as possible.
- Customer support to be able to process and analyze users’ feedback.
Besides, you’ll need to review the development plan and determine whether you’ll follow it without changes or not.
So, you’ve got your product and launched it. It is not going to be perfect, and there will always be room for improvement. The iterative software development process presupposes that you’ll need to begin from the prioritized feature list again or, sometimes, even the strategy behind new features.
Overwhelming? Well, it can be, and there’s no shame in this. It’s as simple as building a house. You can definitely rent a house but in situations like these where all the existing housing models are more dangerous than being without one, there has to be a plan to build a new one that can withstand the new environment and needs.
Now is the time to sit with empathetic and experienced IT consultants and discuss your business, your customers, and your pains honestly. Together, you folks might be able to figure things out better and faster.
Having said all of these, custom software development is hardly a piece of cake. So, you need to make sure you won’t get lost during this journey. We hope that our guide has made it clear what’s ahead of you.
In case you are looking for development consultants or resources, reach out to us to discuss your project. We’ll help you make all the right choices and avoid common pitfalls so that you can get your solution out there in the world in time.