Custom App Development

Custom Software for Small Business – The Only Guide You’ll Need

Maha Yaser 14-Aug-2023
Custom Software for Small Business – The Only Guide You’ll Need

The idea of custom software for small business may seem farfetched. Especially if you believe the size and operations of your business matter in the decision.

However, this means you’re missing out on the benefits and opportunities this type of software has to offer.

What Does Custom Software for Small Business Mean?

Also known as bespoke software, custom software is solutions that are designed to specifically meet the needs of a business.

It’s usually designed and developed from the ground up to meet the specific objectives and challenges of the client.

Tailored to specific needs aside, custom software can include functionality tailored to your business’ workflow and business processes. This allows for greater efficiency and effectiveness in performing tasks and operations.

It’s also designed to scale as the client’s needs grow. That way, it can accommodate changes in user volumes, data requirements, and functionality to remain a valuable tool as requirements evolve.

Most importantly, you own the source code and have full control over the software’s features, updates, and future development. This provides greater flexibility and adaptability.

Do Small Businesses Really Need Custom Software?

You may have an array of software in place already to help with your operations. In fact, you may believe that off-shelf software will cover all your needs.

However, custom software for small business isn’t just a luxury; it’s the need of every business that plans to evolve.

A Quick Comparison of Off-Shelf and Custom Software for Small Business

Before getting into what you’re missing out on without custom software, you should know how it compares to off-shelf software (OTS).

Cost

Typically, off-the-shelf software has lower upfront costs because it’s mass-produced and sold to a wide range of customers. That’s what makes it seem more affordable.

Custom software usually has higher initial development costs since it’s tailored to the business’s unique requirements.

That said, it can be cost-effective in the long run, as it can reduce operational costs and provide a higher return on investment (ROI).

Customization

OTS software comes with pre-defined features and functionality. As customization options are limited, your business will need to adapt its processes to fit the software.

On the other hand, custom software is built to align with the needs of your business. It can be fully customized to match existing workflows, making it more adaptable.

Implementation Time

The implementation of off-the-shelf software is usually faster since it’s readily available. You may be tempted to choose this option as it means you can start using it almost immediately.

On the other hand, custom applications have a longer initial implementation timeline. After all, they need time to be designed, developed, and tested.

Functionality

While off-the-shelf software comes with a broad range of features and functions, your small business may not require all of them. This leads to unnecessary complexity.

Custom software for small business addresses the exact requirements of the business. It can include features tailored to specific processes, resulting in increased efficiency and productivity.

Scalability

Though OTS software can be somewhat scalable, it may not always accommodate the unique growth path of small businesses.

On the other hand, custom software can be designed to scale with your business’s growth and evolving needs. That makes it a valuable asset as the company expands.

Ownership and Control

With regular software, your business has limited control over the software, as the source code is owned by the vendor. This also means you have no control over when updates occur.

This isn’t the case with custom software for small business. You own the source code and have full control over the software’s features, updates, and future development. This also means you can plan further work later according to your schedule and needs.

Benefits of Custom Software for Small Business

In addition to the above factors that make custom software for small business a great idea, here are some benefits you may want to consider.

Higher Efficiency

Custom software can streamline and automate business processes, reducing manual tasks and the risk of errors. This can lead to significant time and cost savings in the long run.

Competitive Advantage

Improving your business’ efficiency and decision-making process will give your business a competitive advantage. That way, it can respond quickly to market changes and adapt to customer demands more effectively.

Scalability

Custom applications can be designed to grow with the business. This means they can accommodate changes in user volumes, data requirements, functionality, etc. to remain valuable as the company expands.

Cost Savings

Yes, the initial development cost of custom software may be higher than the price of off-the-shelf software.

However, custom software for small business eliminates the need for multiple software subscriptions and improves operational efficiency.

Data Security

Custom software can include robust security measures tailored to your business’ data protection needs. This is particularly important if your small business hands sensitive customer information.

Integration Capabilities

By opting for custom applications, you can seamlessly integrate them with your business’ existing systems and technologies. This integration facilitates data sharing and reduces manual data entry.

Enhanced Reporting and Analytics

You can have your custom software include advanced reporting and analytics features. That way, your business can gain valuable insights into its operations and make data-driven decisions.

Signs that You Should Go for Custom Software

You may be a little too comfortable using your usual software to make the switch to custom applications. However, here are the signs that you need to do this ASAP to avoid impacting operations and efficiency down the line.

  • Your employees are sick of your software and have discovered alternative workarounds to using it
  • The technology you’re currently using is too complex for 80% of your workforce and requires intensive training
  • Your software wastes employees’ valuable time as it doesn’t automate routine activities
  • Third-party app subscriptions and licensing fees are constantly draining your wallet
  • Overall costs are constantly increasing but your productivity is lagging behind
  • You’re paying full price for many unwanted features and integrations
  • Useful data from sources such as your website, email, and social profiles isn’t compiled effectively to help you make informed decisions
  • Your current canned software isn’t keeping up with your business’ growth

Tips Small Businesses Should Remember to Get the Best Custom Software

With the benefits of custom software for small business covered, it’s time to move towards implementation. Below are some effective tips to help you get this right.

Define You Present and Future Needs Beforehand

Before connecting with a developer or team, make sure to define your current process, expectation, and future plans. What this means is –

  • Talk to stakeholders and current software uses to determine how the new custom app will help them
  • Pinpoint a list of problems you wish the software to solve, and prioritize them accordingly
  • Determine desired workflows and other processes that you expect your new app(s) to help you with

While jotting these down, make sure you do so realistically. This will help you set milestones and a road map for your project.

Make Sure to Choose the Right Tech Partner

It’s important to be critical of who you entrust with the development process. After all, not everyone can create great custom software for small business.

So, here’s how you can find the best match for your project –

  • Look for developers/companies with a strong track record in your industry or with similar projects. Finalize candidates according to their portfolios, reviews, and testimonials.
  • Ensure that your potential tech partner has expertise in the required technologies and programming languages.
  • Choose a developer who is responsive, understands your needs, and can explain technical concepts in plain language.
  • Find out about the team’s project management process. If they use Agile or similar methodologies, you can be sure of transparency and flexibility.
  • Request detailed quotes and timelines, and then compare pricing with the scope and quality of work. If you’re working with an Agile company, you may want to inquire about its Agile estimations methods.
  • Consider the future. The developer should create software that can scale as your business grows.
  • Cover all bases by discussing legalities, post-launch support, and ongoing maintenance.

Ultimately, choose a developer who aligns with your project goals, values, and budget while offering technical competence and effective communication.

Have a Clear Estimate of Your New Software’s ROI

Custom software for small business is meant to help with accomplishing a business’ goals. Therefore, you need to know the return on your investment.

The formula for this is – (the benefit/gain on investment – cost of investment) / cost of investment.

As simple as this calculation may seem, there are some aspects that may be harder to quantify such as employee productivity.

So, preferable choose one or more areas where you wish to see the impact of your software. For example, you can determine the revenue it will produce in a year or the levels of employee productivity over two years.

Don’t Treat the UI of Your Custom App as an Overthought

UI and UX are integral parts in any app development project. In fact, 25% of projects fail due to UX design issues.

The UI is the first point of interaction between users and your software. Neglecting it leads to several negative consequences, including –

  • Frustrating users
  • Inability to perform tasks efficiently therefore impacting productivity
  • Deterring users and possibly damaging your reputation

On the other hand, a well-thought-out UI enhances user satisfaction, encourages engagement, and boosts app adoption.

So, prioritize UI design to create a successful custom app that meets your business’ needs and goals.

Discuss the Level of Support and Maintenance You’ll Receive

You need to find out the levels of maintenance and support you’ll receive and their costs. Ideally, you should get these three –

  • Performance monitoring to ensure your software is running as expected
  • On-call support to respond to any queries or provide technical assistance
  • Technical improvements for things like feature upgrades or bug fixes

Ready to Work on Your Small Business’ Custom Software?

DPL has the experience and expertise for delivering custom software for small business as well as large enterprises. We also have the skill to transform your ideas into working solutions, and guide you for the future.

Let us know what you need in the form below so we can get your custom applications up and running business-wide.

Maha Yaser
Maha Yaser

A versatile copywriter with a software engineering degree, four years' experience as a teacher, 15 years of content writing and editing, and two years of eLearning expertise

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