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Explained – The Supremacy of Custom Software Development

By Tripti Rai
August 21, 2020 6. min read
Last update on: August 27, 2020

To be or not to be, that is the question businesses face when it comes to choosing between customized software and standard software. In some respects, the question could be the difference between the haves and have nots. Being a successful software development company ourselves and pushed to innovate cutting edge solutions on a habitual basis, we know first hand what to do when. 

If organizations are to transform digitally, then the installed software would have to compliment the needs equally. If you are in the middle of such a dilemma, by the end of this article you would have gained much clarity on the subject. We begin by answering the question, what is custom software?  

What is a Customized Software? 

The software that comes pre-packaged with features is referred to as Commercial Off The Shelf or COTS. The vendor that develops it owns the responsibility of updating its versions. Enterprises slash users subscribe to it by paying a licensing fee. It is designed keeping in mind the most universal needs of the mass market. Microsoft Windows is an example of COTS. It offers the apparatus for each user to carry daily-life computational tasks without having to think twice.  

On the other hand, a software that you develop, or ask a third-party to customize for you is called customized software. Since it is created unique to the needs of a particular user, it is also termed as bespoke software. Made on order, it weighs high on features that are relevant to the organization. Custom software applications are cut to fit the ongoing and upcoming business requirements

Tasks that a standard software will take ages to complete can be accomplished in a whisker of time with custom software apps. Think of it this way, COTS is a public utility vehicle that takes the combined choices of travelers’ into consideration and drives at a speed fast enough to pacify those onboard. While custom software is that private car that you can modify as per wish and break the speed limits with. 

Now that you understand what is custom software, let’s find out about its development procedure followed by a full cycle app development company.

Does Custom Software Development Process Differ from Standard?

Not at all. The software development life cycle is almost identical in each case. You traverse the same stages of basic information collection, coding, testing out the software for inconsistencies, finally moving over to deployment. 

There is an unprecedented urgency in enterprises to transform digitally for sustenance. Each is looking to differentiate itself and be seen and as an innovator. Be it an in-house project, or one that is outsourced to a company like Appinventiv, custom development of software involves the following stages:

Application Customization 

You would either purchase a COTS software and re-program it to requirements or build a bespoke solution. No matter what you choose, it will begin at this stage of code creation. 

Application Modernization 

Maturing with time, stakeholders realize that their value chains must improve and be just as impressive as their product suite. The deployed custom software will have to be modernized with features as new technologies emerge. 

Application Management 

It is similar to after-sales support but one that you either do internally or let the third-party that designed the software for you do it. These envelope everything from installing the software to ensuring its 24/7 availability. 

What are the Benefits of Custom Software Development? 

It is not a good rationale to buy an inferior product, and subsequently, modify it for installation. Why wouldn’t you just create the whole thing on your own! The following advantages of custom software will help you make up your mind. The benefits can also be read as ways how custom app development can increase app development:

Vendor Independent  

Custom design software and you shall be free from the clutches of vendors who upgrade their product based on user reception and trends than your needs. In doing so, your business circumvents fee surges caused in the name of licensing and maintenance. Then there is the possibility of the vendor ceasing operations leaving your IT department to shreds and affecting business continuity. 

You would although need to hire subject matter experts to cope with a proprietary solution. But again, there is no saying how much indirect benefit you would derive from them such as mentioned in the next point. 

Create White Label Products 

The resources you devote to creating a bespoke internal solution could be monetized by licensing it to similar businesses or allowing them to use it as a White Label product by making a one-time payment. A White Label product is one that you build and sell to a second organization, conferring them the right to use it under their brand name. The only catch here is to define the terms of use. Although white label solutions are not always deemed to be effective for long-term, they can be a good option, nonetheless for entrepreneurs who are just starting their journey.

High-End Integration

Investment in COTS software becomes a catch-22 situation when you discover you have to program extensions into the system to make it worth your while. Diverting the same expenditure towards custom software applications that integrate effortlessly with other software (because you made it so) saves you much-needed energy.

Performance

Custom software development provides for more stable and efficient IT operations as the software does all (perhaps more) that is asked of it to deliver value-adding results. 

Scalability 

Nobody knows better than you the future of your venture. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that you would, during the course of customized software development, come up with something that is scalable and relatable to the needs of your company.

How to Decide Whether You Need a Bespoke Solution or Not?

By tradition, companies prefer to purchase COTS software provided it helps them meet up to 80% of the following business requirements. 

  • Either allow the functioning of or automate entirely B2B transactions and processes unique to the business 
  • Take care of proprietary information and safeguard confidential data
  • Suffice for ad-hoc privacy issues that might arise 
  • Enable integration with software already deployed by the company 
  • Reduce the cost of operations and increase return on investment 
  • Accord a certain level of competitive advantage to the brand 

There are companies that may be fine if the software delivers 60% efficiency than 80%. The vacuum that exists they fill on their own. But that is a risky proposition, leaving things up to chance and making superficial efforts to transform digitally. 

A big reason startups cover ground on legacy businesses faster than others, is because they do not hesitate to innovate. And if that means bringing in new digital solutions, so be it. 

[Further Read: How We Solve the Digital Transformation Challenges Pulling Your Business Down

Get The Requirements Ready 

Once you set your mind for custom development of software the next step is identifying collaborators to help you with project development internally. These include program sponsors, high-level stakeholders, sometimes your customers, and other miscellaneous partners. 

This step is all about conveying the workforce your plans to transform digitally post which a detailed draft must be prepared listing down your Key Performance Indicators (KPI). KPIs must bear in mind: 

  • To flatten out any statutory and or theoretically unachievable targets and be realistic 
  • Define the role the proposed software will play in business development 
  • Not to leave room for assumptions in that the end-to-end capabilities of the software are discussed with project stakeholders
  • The introduction of the software must not intervene with pre-existing COTS software
  • There must be ample proof of concept in the market to base and validate your theory on 
  • The source-code used should not violate intellectual property rights and must be either open-sourced or written from scratch 
  • The allocated limit of budget and time should be respected
  • If needed there can be partial diversions/pivots from the originally agreed course of action 

Development Methodologies You Can Use 

You can pick any of the following software development methodologies: 

Waterfall Model 

Envisaged in the 1970s, the Waterfall Model is rigid in its implementation and benefits those with a crystal clear understanding of requirements. The expectation setting is followed by rigorous project documentation. It is sequential in nature meaning one stage of the project must be finished before beginning the next. It includes the following phases: 

  • Define scope 
  • Re-assess the scope 
  • Design 
  • Implement 
  • Test 
  • Deploy 
  • Maintain 

Not that this model is out of fashion, but development teams that want to mix things up and be prepared for last-hour changes to plans, don’t like the Waterfall Model much. It is built for those who like working under ironclad rules. 

Waterfall Model

Agile Development

Agile is the exact opposite of waterfall, in fact it was introduced to do away with the rigid, inflexible redundancies of the waterfall model. It prioritizes business unit collaboration over documentation. Teams that go Agile, do so to wrap up coding in design sprints that are time bound mini-projects to accomplish software development faster. Customer satisfaction is the priority here, everything else takes the backseat. Here at Appinventiv, we trust Agile more than other methodologies as a custom software development company. Based on experience, we can help you decide between Agile and Waterfall models easily. 

Agile Development

Scrum 

This is a nuanced approach between older models like the Waterfall and newer ones like Agile. It facilitates regular team interaction but with a relative degree of self-discipline.that team members must impose on themselves. Sprint retrospectives in scrum development last an average of two weeks during which the primary objective of software development is fragmented into smaller, more achievable goals. Developers stick to the daily briefs that are a product of demo feedback. The development is quick and results steady. 

Scrum

Lean 

A philosophy, methodology, or a mindset, call it what you will, it brings out tremendous productivity from teams in custom software companies. Whereas other entries in this list were specifically meant to bolster software development practices, Lean methodology was adopted from the manufacturing sector. 

Agile is accomodative of flexibility, but it offers no actionable course to extend the same ideology towards business wings outside of Information Technology. Lean proposes the no-nonsense approach, nullifying wasteful practices, encouraging knowledge sharing, experimentation, innovation and faster turn-around times. 

Lean

Feature Driven Development (FDD)

Custom software design and development can be taken up via Feature Driven Development as well. FDD has been a precursor to the now omnipresent, Agile and Lean approaches. It follows a five-step development model. In the first step you take your plans to the whiteboard and lay out an overall strategy. The next step is defining the specifications of the software followed by planning around each feature holistically. Designing and building each feature make up for the last two stages respectively. 

Feature Driven Development (FDD)

Make up Your Mind 

We hope this clears the air around custom development of software. Be it on-demand, or standard solutions, Appinventiv has a track record of achievements in both categories. Our report card in the subject boasts nothing short of an ‘A’ with top industry review journals giving us a 10/10 on numerous occasions. Signing off with a saying dear to all at Appinventiv,  

When you join forces with us, profitable business outcomes will be a matter of when and not if”

Tripti Rai
Tripti Rai
Content Manager
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