When Is the Best Time to Develop Custom Software?

  • Saurabh Sharma
  • Oct 17, 2022
  • 9 Min Read
what is the right time to develop a custom software

Article posted by

Saurabh Sharma

VP of Engineering

VP of Engineering at Closeloop, a seasoned technology guru and a rational individual, who we call the captain of the Closeloop team. He writes about technology, software tools, trends, and everything in between. He is brilliant at the coding game and a go-to person for software strategy and development. He is proactive, analytical, and responsible. Besides accomplishing his duties, you can find him conversing with people, sharing ideas, and solving puzzles.

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Software is running the world. While this claim has been made numerous times before, the importance of software has grown even more pronounced in recent years. With the software market expanding and new software-driven innovations coming to light almost daily, now is an excellent time for SMEs to hire a custom software development company.

But how do you know the best time to develop custom software? The answer depends on your company and where you are at in your business growth journey.

To get started, you need to understand that developing custom software isn't something you can do overnight or launch without careful planning. Many considerations and factors, including the best software solutions company, go into making the right decision for your business.

In this article, we will go through everything you should know about developing custom software and tips on the best time to do so based on your business needs and long-term goals.

What is Custom Software?

Custom software is tailored to match your specific needs and goals. You can design every aspect of the software, including its UI-UX, function, features, and more.

Let's say that person X owns a shoe retail chain and has 20 retail outlets all over the United Kingdom. Now, X plans to streamline and automate sales data collection from all these outlets. Plus, X wants to use ML algorithms to draw insights from this data further.

If you are lucky, you may be able to find off-the-shelf software that meets all your unique business goals and needs. However, this is not always the case. Generic software is designed for a broader market. So their features and functionalities are designed to serve general requirements that fit well with the maximum number of businesses.

Therefore, even if X selects one of them, there is no guarantee that the software will operate as intended. Instead, developing software from scratch will always be a sensible choice because it will allow X the freedom to create the software precisely how they want it.

Who Should Develop Custom Software?

Any business, no matter how big or small, new or seasoned, can opt for custom software development. Most startups and enterprises today choose custom solutions over ready-to-use ones. You can choose a custom software development company to build software from scratch if one or more of the following factors seem reasonable to you:

  1. You need more control

  2. Working with a custom software development company will give you more control over the project. You will be able to specify every aspect of the project, from the functions of the software to the layout of the user interface. In this way, you'll be able to trust the solution to keep its promises and know precisely what you're getting.

  3. Your business needs are unique

  4. When working with a custom software development company, you can decide on all the features and functionalities needed. You can include any features you want and remove any features you don't want while creating a custom software solution.

    Custom software development allows you to deliver a painless end-user experience. You can always ask the development team to revise a feature or design if you are unsatisfied. A better user experience is produced by removing pointless elements from your product.

  5. You need to scale at a pace

  6. Software programs purchased off the shelf typically cannot be scaled up and down. By creating a unique software solution, businesses may eliminate that gap. If you think that your software should be able to scale on demand, custom software development is the right business approach to have.

  7. You don't want to use the same software

  8. Maybe your competitors are using the same off-the-shelf software as you. However, you can always stay ahead with custom software. Your competitors won't be able to copy what you have, thanks to a bespoke software solution. When done effectively, it puts you ahead of your rivals and is created to assist your business to succeed at a pace.

  9. You need better data security

  10. Off-the-shelf generic software is more prone to security concerns because of its availability to all. You also have little control over how the software is updated and maintained. On the other hand, using a custom solution is more secure and dependable because you own all the rights and decide how it is updated and maintained. It provides a higher level of security from outside influences because it is created to operate just in your environment and nowhere else.

Preparing for Custom Software Development

Custom software must be created from tip to toe, whereas generic software is more or less ready to use. You will therefore need to stay proactive from Day 1.

If you want to be satisfied with the outcomes, you can't just relax and wait. You will have to don many hats, sometimes as a guide, other times as a mentor, and most of the time as a positive critic. Preparing will help you avoid significant challenges that could otherwise slow and hamper the project lifecycle.

  • Identify the Right Goals
  • Never forget the golden rule of software development: "Build for people."

    Keep your end-users at the core of the development strategy. Involve every stakeholder and ensure that everybody is in sync and well-aligned with the problems you are solving and the goals you want to achieve.

    For instance, building a CRM tool will give you greater visibility and clarity on the end goals and objectives if you bring the sales and customer service teams on board. The feedback from your team will help you identify the right features and functionalities that will accelerate your software ROI.

  • Stick to the Timeline
  • You will need to be involved at every stage of the product development cycle to ensure that there are no undesirable delays.

    If you build the product in-house, spare some time for weekly meetings and discussions on the project. You should never let your developers feel that there is a lack of leadership or commitment on your part.

    If you plan to hire a third party, schedule timely virtual meetings. Ask your staff to shoulder the responsibility if you are busy with work or other obligations. Choose someone who can always supervise all the work and ensure that the project timeline and quality of work remain uncompromised.

  • Follow an MVP Approach
  • Think about what you can create that fulfills the fundamental requirements. To put it another way, start by developing a basic software version or a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

    Once you have an MVP, you can get valuable feedback from end-users. You will better understand the critical pain points and significant changes that should be made to make the final product a success. The speed with which it becomes clear that what you initially thought you desired is not what you need may surprise you.

    Building an MVP also enables you to put the least amount of money at risk. You will save time and money by ensuring you're investing in the project with the best chance of success. So the sooner you release an MVP, the better it will be for your project timeline and cost.

  • Think in Screens
  • You'll better understand and communicate your idea to your IT staff if you think about screens. Additionally, it will prevent you from overlooking crucial elements. Spend some time sketching the software layout, the essential features, the overall navigation, etc. Consider what you want to see more than how it looks and feels. Let your technology partner worry about the details, and just draw a rough sketch using paper and pencil; it will help move things in the right direction.

Should You Hire a Software Development Company?

Hiring a software solutions company gives you a particular advantage when it comes to designing custom software in terms of:

  • The expertise and skill set
  • The truckload of experience
  • Quick MVP
  • Faster time to launch
  • Software maintenance and update

You can also employ teams based on the skill set you believe would be an addition if you currently have an in-house team. Your internal team and the outsourcing team can collaborate to build the project in record time.

If you plan to hire a software solutions company, follow these tips:

  • Look for online reviews and feedback.
  • Evaluate the development team's experience in your specific domain.
  • Learn in detail about their previous projects and client portfolio.
  • Get a rough estimate of the cost and timeline.
  • Ensure that the team you will work with has good communication skills, is interested in your project, and is willing to work across strict deadlines.
Also Read: SaaS vs Custom Software Solution - Which One Fits Right for Your Business?

Is Custom Software Development Costly?

Yes, custom software development is costlier than traditional generic software. The most significant cost factor is the requirements and the scale of the requirements. If you want to recreate Instagram, it will take much longer than recreating a calendar app for your phone.

But if the requirements for Instagram are clear and concise and the requirements for the calendar app are vague and constant, the latter could be as challenging to develop as the former.

In addition to the project's scope and clarity, other factors that determine cost include:

  • Application Size: Small applications have 10 to 25 screens, medium applications have 25 to 40 screens, and large applications have more than 40 screens. As screen/page numbers increase, so do the project lifecycle and costs.
  • Complexity: Size is related to screens, while complexity is related to features and functions. In addition to directly raising costs (more features, more budget), extensive functionality frequently necessitates using complicated software architecture, which has a cost.
  • Design: The cost of developing a software project is directly influenced by the size and complexity of the design. This step will take longer with more screens, pages, intricate animations, handcrafted features, etc.

Along with the factors above, the project development costs may also increase due to additional project needs like data migration and compliance with regulations like HIPAA and GDPR.

It's usually a good idea to speak with a software development company and obtain an honest estimate of the time and cost of development.

  • A straightforward software project should take 3-5 months and cost $10–25K.
  • A medium-sized software project should take 6–9 months to complete and cost $50–100,000.
  • Large software projects should take at least nine months and cost at least $150,000.

When Should You Buy a Generic Software Solution?

Buy a ready-to-use software solution if:

  • You are short on time; custom software development can take weeks to months. 
  • You have a limited budget; custom software is costlier.
  • Your requirements are generic; custom software is excellent for unique business needs.

Conclusion

If you can't find one, build one. Investment in custom software could be one of the best business decisions you’d ever make. It promises several benefits like better scalability, flexibility, and a better way to keep up with the latest trends.

If your current software prevents you from moving forward, it may be time to get professional advice and have a skilled team of engineers create new software to match your company's demands. Talk to a professional custom software development company and upgrade to something new and better now.

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