Risks of Custom Software Development
“If we don’t meet people’s felt needs, we will never meet their real needs”
― Gary L. McIntosh
As the aphorism goes, businesses must understand the exact need of its people and customers. There are multiple considerations that make up ‘business needs ’- facilitating integration with legacy systems, replacing or consolidating existing solutions at a lower cost, enabling new opportunities, automating unique business processes, improving competitive advantage, etc.
Custom software development can be a complex task – this can include juggling between evolving technologies, competing stakeholders, many types of users, and so forth. This process makes the development of custom software risky and many businesses may resist the custom route.
Here is a quick rundown of some of the risks to consider when evaluating your custom software development approach.
Unclear Agenda and Goals
One of the biggest troubles while creating a custom software application is not setting the goals/ objectives properly. Without a proper plan or action, the project can turn into different directions and there are definite chances that you may lose control on the development. To have the clear objectives and expectations, you must ask yourself the following questions:
- Who would be the intended audience using the project?
- Which problem is addressed by this project?
- Would this solution be ideal for efficiency and cost saving?
- What would be the long-term benefits for your customers?
Inaccurate Estimate of Project
Inaccurate estimation of a project can happen due to ineffective communication within the team. This ineffective communication can also lead to misidentification of the initial requirements, thus leading to wrong budget estimates. Also, transparency holds a high priority in custom enterprise software development projects.
According to a study conducted by Geneca, around 75% of IT professionals reported that businesses are out of sync with requirements on software projects.
All the key members should be involved in the project. A Project manager needs to own the project and keep everybody on track. This will help you and your team to set a roadmap, budget and timeline as per the requirements.
Integration with External Systems
This often happens that the custom software application for business needs to send data to another software application. It invites complexity for both applications. If the other application is a commercially available software or off-the-shelf system with a documented API, then risks might not be big or threatening. On the other hand, if the requirement of integration is with custom-built system, it can be costly and risky too.
It seems like every other day companies are announcing data breach attempts and security violation issues. Therefore, there should be a security policy for every project and every developer must be aware of best coding ethics while building custom software applications.
Content Management Systems, for example, should be equipped with robust encryption protocols. Introduce your software developers to your code of ethics so that there will be no fault in coding.
Potential for Hidden and New Requirements
In any custom software development project, there are always features to be built to improve the overall application experience. Some projects are well-defined and tightly scoped while there are some projects that are nebulous. Therefore, it’s imperative to build a buffer into the budget and stay focused on release targets while saving new ideas for the future.
Rewards of Custom Software Development
Let’s face it: Even though ready to use software has all built-in components to address broader needs, purchasing, maintaining, and modifying of such solutions can be difficult and cost-intensive.
Through the years, companies have realized how the packaged and off-the-shelf products have fallen short when it comes to meet diverse business needs. This is the reason Forrester reported in a study that one out of eight companies spend more than 50% of their budgets on building custom software solutions.
As a leading custom software development company, we’ve outlined some important rewards associated with custom software development.
Efficient – Tailor-Made Solution
Custom software is purposely built to support various business functions quickly and productively. Although there are multiple off-the-shelf solutions available in the market, there are fewer chances that it will seamlessly fit into your business. Modifying some built in-features of the existing software might meet small needs but it can’t meet the level of the custom solution, which is specifically designed for your business. Hence, a tailor-made solution is a perfect fit for your business.
When your business evolves or changes, it brings new requirements. Such new requirements are assessed as part of the future needs during the requirement capturing phase. Custom software designers and developers work on these enhancements to back the evolving growth of your business. This will save you from getting additional licenses and subscriptions for those features.
Lower Integration costs
Sometimes it may happen that you require additional software programs or tools to work with your business software application. In such situations, your business needs a custom software solution to be engineered to facilitate the integration of multiple processes. It could be working with the legacy systems or enhancing some features through API integration. Custom software can be built to accommodate integration requirements with its intended environment without worrying about any further investment in getting commercial software to orchestrate with your existing infrastructure.
The development of custom software solutions can be costlier at times in comparison to the packaged solution. However, it proves to be a rewarding option overall as it does not require development for the accommodation of company needs. Moreover, depending on the terms and conditions signed for the project, you may own the software and the complete source code. This further adds a plus point in terms of licensing the product or selling it to other organizations, which makes it a profitable investment.
While dealing with commercially available software applications, your business is dependent on the software development firm where you are buying it from. So, if your vendor goes out of the business or discontinues support and maintenance, your business will suffer and suddenly you need to switch to software that is fully supported and maintained. This sudden expense can create a big hole in your P&L, for example.
On the other hand, when you decide to opt custom software solution, your software will receive continuous maintenance and support when you need it.
Is a custom application right for your business?
By now you have an understanding of the risks and rewards associated with custom software applications. Everything is linked to productivity and efficiency of your business functions. The crux of the story is you can’t run a business without the right application to support your business objectives or people's needs.
Whatever business use case you have, understand some important considerations including why is custom software development needed, what is your budget, timeline, and how it is going to benefit your business. Your new custom-built application should solve the actual problems by eliminating inefficient tasks.
If your final call is to build custom software, an important point to remember is to team up with leading players in the market that ensure effective communication and collaboration on the project efficiently.
At Icreon, we are a team of software architects, product owners and software developers who have rich industry experience and expertise across software platforms - Java, Microsoft (.NET), Open-Source (Python & PHP) & Frontend Stacks (Angular & React). With adroitness in custom engineering and a better understanding of customer-centric view, we’re here to help you with your custom software application development journey.