Software development comes in many forms. In fact, it can refer to website development, mobile development, application development, development of software tools, back-end development, API development, cloud computing, embedded systems development and so on. And we still wouldn’t cover all of the types of software development that exist.
There’s also no hard-and-fast rule as to how long can custom software development take.
The only answer is “it depends.” It depends on the scope of the project, the features that are needed, the existing infrastructure… the list goes on and on.
Software development is not done in one swoop, but in stages and each of these will vary in time based on size and complexity.
For example, the requirement gathering phase might take between two and four weeks, while coding and implementation usually take several months. But on average, estimates range from four to ten months for building custom software.
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Top 7 Advantages of Custom Software Development
Custom software development provides a ton of benefits for the would-be user, but here are the top 7 advantages this type of software can provide to a company:
1. Custom Software is Tailored To Your Brand’s Exact Needs And Specifications
The most obvious advantage bespoke software provides is that it is developed to a brand’s exact needs.
Ready-made software may have some features that could be helpful for your brand. But because it is meant to service a wide variety of businesses, it is highly unlikely it will have all the functionalities you will need to reach peak productivity.
However, custom software development is done only with your business in mind, which means it can include every requirement you need to succeed.
2. Customized Software Can Be Scaled Easily
Because personalized software is built for specific businesses instead of a wide range, it can easily integrate with business and scale as the brand expands.
Brands can also better anticipate their needs and communicate them to the custom software development companies they are working with.
Then, outsourced software developers can build the software so it can accommodate that growth down the road.
3. Personalized Software Can Actually Have Lower Costs Over Time
Ready-made software solutions may seem cheaper at first. However, it is important to remember that the low, low fee businesses initially see is typically a recurring cost — whether that is monthly or yearly.
Therefore, businesses who are searching for a long-term solution often find that they shell out far more money than they anticipated with ready-made software.
Although customized software solutions have higher upfront costs for development and execution, they don’t require long-term recurring fees, which often make them far less expensive over time and that’s not even counting the likely increase in return on investment!
4. Custom Software Belongs To Your Company And No One Else
Although ready-made software may seem like an easier solution, it is important to remember that — with off-the-shelf software — you don’t actually own the product you’re using.
Instead, you are paying regular fees to use someone else’s product, making you beholden to their rules, regulations, features, functionalities, updates, and more.
Plus, if you ever decide to stop using their software, you don’t retain anything. Your software license simply stops working.
However, when you invest the money you would otherwise spend on licensing on custom software development instead, you’ll end with a product or software that is completely yours — meaning you control it in its entirety.
In other words, there are no surprises on the part of the software development provider. They just make the software, you own it.
Think about renting vs owning a house or a car, for example. Yes, many people prefer to rent and that is a valid choice when the budget is tight or you are in a situation where you don’t need to own the product.
Maybe your company just needs the software for a specific, one-time use. Why pay a license for something you are only going to use once or twice?
That said, if the product is something your business will use continuously, why not invest in your own custom software?
5. Custom Software Can Be Maintained For As Long As You Need
Another big difference between off-the-shelf and custom software is that there is no limit to how long your custom software solution will be maintained. That is not the case with commercial, ready-made software.
This comes down to the ownership of the software. Since your company doesn’t own ready-made software, but only rent it from the company that makes it and sells it (such as, for example, Microsoft for Office 365), then that company ultimately has the final say.
Naturally, this puts the company using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software at a severe disadvantage. Basically, if the company that developed it decides to stop making and supporting the software, there is not much you can do about it.
If that happens, your only option is to switch to another software and that alone takes time and money.
When you are using bespoke software, on the other hand, you can simply contact the software development company that created it for you in the first place and ask for a specific update or modification and they will get on it.
This can go on for as long as you want to use that software and you are not tied down to any licenses.
6. Custom Software Is Better Equipped To Deal With External Security Threats
With any kind of software, security is a big talking point. Especially when it comes to something that might collect and store data about your company, employees, or customers.
Data threats are abundant and the damage they can cause to the company’s finances and reputation are often beyond repair.
Now, does this mean commercial software is inherently less secure than custom software? No, but it is often an easier target for hackers and other types of cyber-criminals just for the fact that there is no true “ownership” here.
Since off-the-shelf software is often widely used and often by hundreds of different firms, hackers will go at it more.
That doesn’t mean they won’t attack custom software, on the opposite. They will, but only in a situation where they are specifically targeting that company.
Another reason why custom software is more secure than off-the-shelf one is that hackers will be more familiar with and will therefore already be aware of any vulnerabilities.
Of course, regular security updates and patches should deal with that problem, but they do so only for the more obvious threats and even then, hackers always tend to find a way to find another vulnerability they can exploit.
In the end, that’s just a never-ending struggle between cyber-security professionals on one side and cyber-criminals on the other and commercial software is the battleground.
7. Bespoke Software is Easier to Integrate Into The Company Workflow
How different departments in a company communicate and work together will nine times out of ten determine the success of that business.
For example, production will have its own operations, which will be different from marketing, which in turn does its own thing compared to human resources.
In a way, each department runs in some kind of isolation.
However, if one department is using a certain app, that app needs to be integrated -- or, in other words, coordinated -- with other departments.
The key to such seamless integration lies in collaboration and data exchange and that is exactly what a good custom software solution should provide.
The Types Of Custom Sofware Development
There are three degrees or types of personalized software development:
1. Legacy or Fully Custom Software Development
Legacy is a type of software that is entirely created from scratch, according to the company’s requirements and specifications.
2. Modern Interface Applications
When we talk about this kind of development, we generally mean pre-developed libraries or development code, which are utilized to decrease repeat code and better focus on developing code that caters to specific business needs.
3. Systems Of Custom Software Development
Finally, these are used in cases where a large programming library is used to create an app.
Of course, which degree will a company use, depends on its specific needs and, to a certain extent, budget. Naturally, legacy software is often more expensive as it is something that has to be created from scratch.
The Difference Between Bespoke Software Development And Off-The-Shelf Software
Perhaps a much easier to think about software development is to instead separate it into two types:
- Custom software development, also known as “bespoke” or “tailor-made”
- Off-the-shelf software development, also known as “ready-made” or “commercial”
By understanding the biggest differences between these two types of software solutions, you will be better equipped to choose the right software development company for you.
What is custom, or bespoke software development? IBM defines custom software development as “the process of designing, creating, deploying and maintaining software for a specific set of users, functions or organizations.”.
Custom software is a form of software solution that is created and developed specifically for one organization, brand, business, or individual.
Often called bespoke software or tailor-made software, custom software solutions typically help brands improve efficiency, productivity, consumer relations, and ultimately increase revenue because the elements were developed with specific objectives in mind.
On the other side, we have off-the-shelf software. Think about any software you purchased, instead of having it made for you. Like Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop for instance.
Now, the term “off-the-shelf” is a leftover from the times we had to go to the store to buy software, which was nicely packaged in a box, that we would pick, take to the counter, pay for and then bring home to install on our computer.
Today, however, even so-called “off-the-shelf” software is mostly bought online.
The main difference between the two is, of course, that one (ready-made software) is created primarily for general use and a wider audience. They can, to a certain extent be customized to suit someone’s individual needs, but only to a certain degree.
Custom software, on the other hand, is developed specifically for a business that orders it. That means, all the features and functionalities in that software are geared toward helping that specific business.
Another difference between the two is the price. Ready-made software will, in general, be much cheaper than custom software, at least if we are talking about the initial cost.
Finally, custom software development companies will update your software with new releases wherever you need it (provided, of course, you have the budget for it).
With ready-made software, it’s different. Here, you have to wait for the company that made the software to update it and to release that update and then you have to pay for it.
What’s worse is that you can’t be sure the updates will really do anything to help your business.
Of course, we do also have hybrid software, which is a combination of off-the-shelf and custom software. The main premise here is to purchase COTS that will satisfy the majority of the company’s needs and then fill any gaps (such as, for example, better contact management or security) using custom software.
Which Industries Can Utilize Custom Software?
Think for a moment where successful, multi-million dollar companies like Google, Amazon, Airbnb, or Netflix would be without custom software development.
Probably nowhere near the market positions they currently occupy.
These companies, and many others, owe their success in large part to having tailor-made software, developed just for them and not having to “share” the solution with anyone else.
The beauty of custom product development is that it’s not just for large enterprises. Since it can easily scale up or down (certainly better than off-the-shelf software) even smaller companies and startups can take advantage of it.
Takeaways On Bespoke Software Development
The trend is clearly moving from commercial toward custom software solutions and these seven advantages that we outlined in this article play a huge role in that.