There's no system like your own system...right?
Whether you're shopping for a new customer relationship management (CRM) system, document management program, or task management system for your business, the array of choices can make your head spin — as well as the ongoing pricing. Despite all of this, the software still may not be the right fit. To combat ill-fitting software and ongoing high prices, some organizations have had software customized to their needs. In this piece, we're going to look at the pros and cons of custom software solutions.
1. Custom software is tailored to fit your organization's needs.
When shopping for software systems, it can be challenging to find a system that perfectly fits your organization's needs. One tier may have a feature that you need, but many other features that you don't. Custom software solutions, however, can provide everything that your organization needs while not leaving you paying for features you may never use.
2. The price structure for custom software may be more appealing in the long-run.
Custom software development can indeed leave some organizations with sticker shock. What should actually be measured is the long-term cost. One-size-fits-most software solutions typically charge a monthly, quarterly, or annual usage fee. If your organization needs to add additional users or users, you may be looking at paying significantly more ongoing. On the other hand, custom software typically has no such staggering recurring costs. The price of custom software in the long term may be significantly less.
3. Custom software allows you to tightly control the security compliance.
If your business or organization handles sensitive information for clients or patients, you know that security compliance is a must. Custom software typically allows you to run the software on a server of your choice. Whether you choose to use your own servers or a third-party service, using custom software gives you closer control of the transmission of information. This control can help you keep your clients' or patients' information safe, growing confidence in your business or organization.
4. Growing or shrinking? Custom software can adjust with you.
Many one-size-fits-most software services' rates fluctuate depending on the number of users or account files you need to manage. If you're a doctor's office with eight administrators, four doctors, and 5,000 patient files, those would all likely affect the price of your ongoing software use. This software usually charges in tiers or packages. Custom software is typically built to grow and shrink with only server space as the only factor to consider.
5. Easily integrate existing systems with custom software programs.
Customer, patient, document, or task management systems usually have to integrate with other systems. Whether you have separate billing services, storage solutions, or even data entry from websites, they all need to be able to communicate. Some off-the-shelf software systems may charge ongoing fees just to connect their systems to other specific programs. These extra fees and breakdowns in communication can be avoided when your software is designed to connect to other systems.
6. Custom software can increase your support options.
It may sound counterintuitive to say that having custom software can lead to better maintenance options in comparison to an off-the-shelf software system, but just hear us out. Firstly, subscription-based software companies are usually very particular about who can fix their software in the event of an error. This monopoly on maintenance can lead to expensive maintenance fees or no control over the length of downtime for customers. When your subscription-based software fails, you can't exactly ask the company down the street to fix it. This lack of competition leaves you at the mercy of the original software company. Secondly, subscription-based software companies come and go all the time. If the company you happen to use goes under, this can be an expensive nightmare as you scramble to find a new system. Custom software systems, however, are typically built in order to allow for any experienced software professional to maintain, repair, or upgrade your system if the developer documents their processes. When you own the software, you can decide who manages your system.
The Downsides of Custom Software
1. Time to Develop
Much like having a suit custom made to fit your needs, it will always take much longer to implement than an "off the shelf" solution. If time is of the essence, a pre-made software solution may be the better choice. Sure, it may not fit like a glove, but it may be adequate for your needs.
2. Custom Software Development Isn't Cheap
Anytime you see the word "custom," expect to pay more. The more attention and expertise necessary for a project, the higher the cost will likely be. Getting everything perfectly dialed in to meet your company's needs means more time. More time means more money.
3. Less Updateable in the Future
If your organization changes sizes or your needs change in the future, your custom software may not be as flexible as you'd like. Also, not just anyone will be able to make the necessary adjustments if the documentation isn't present. If your software developer didn't document their processes thoroughly or if they used some form of lesser-popular infrastructure, keeping your custom software systems in step with updated needs may be tricky.
Conclusion: It Depends
Depending on the software need, custom software may be a no-brainer. Other times, there's no point in reinventing the wheel if a low-cost option presently exists. Knowing the difference requires careful exploration of existing systems and consulting software development professionals to weigh your options.