The benefits of Custom Software
Why use custom software?
Businesses use custom software because their existing systems…
- can’t cope with the volume of activity required,
- are inefficient or labour intensive,
- don’t suit the business processes,
- were developed internally and the developer left,
- were developed internally and lacked accountability,
- couldn’t be developed internally,
- were too expensive, or exceeded requirements,
- weren’t available off the shelf.
Benefits of custom software
- is specific to the business need and therefore more efficient,
- can be extended and modified whenever necessary,
- can be restricted to specific tasks, and therefore easy to learn,
- can do stuff that off-the-shelf software can’t do,
- can do things your competitors can’t do, and therefore…
- can give you a competitive advantage!
Let’s cut right to the chase! The biggest fear people have of custom software is the cost, and rightly so. There is no way that you can have a custom accounting application built for your business for the same cost that you can purchase Quicken, Solution 6, or MYOB.
The same will be true for most common commercial software categories including point-of-sale systems, warehousing, inventory management, staff management, call centre management, website development.
If you’ve evaluated the existing options, or are finding limitations with your existing software, then it’s time to look for alternatives.
The hidden costs of existing software
If your existing software is inadequate
You need to consider the cost to your business when your existing systems simply don’t work as well as they should. How much are you losing because your current software is inadequate, in terms of reduced productivity, wasted staff time, unable to perform critical business functions and lost sales due to unhappy customers?
If you rely on internally developed systems
Most businesses have staff who develop internal systems, most often using spreadsheet software, such as MS Excel or simple databases. At first these systems seem like a great idea and can be a useful temporary solution to software shortcomings. Longer term experience however is often that these systems become too complex to manage, or moreoften, the staff that developed these systems move onto other jobs. Suddenly the business is either missing a vital tool, or using a system with no accountability.
Off the shelf software is usually licenced on a per user basis and this can get expensive if you have more than a few users.
On the other hand, recent surveys have claimed that 80% of businesses have illegal copies of software installed!
Custom Software Licencing
It is extremely important to know what you are entitled to do with the custom software you get developed.
Even though you will pay to have custom software developed, the software source code and copyright still belong to the developer and you will only be licenced to use it according to the terms specified by the development agreement.
The developer is entitled to re-use and re-sell any software they develop, unless you have an exclusivity clause – which will add considerably to the cost of your development.
The developer is not obliged to provide you with the source code unless you stipulate this as a requirement in the development agreement.
You are not entitled to re-sell or re-use the source code, or the completed application, unless it is stipulated in the development agreement.