In the days of looming recession and alleged credit crunch, competition within business has become ever fierce. Expenses are honed to within an inch of their life and staff, unfortunately, become a less essential commodity. Many companies who are feeling the pinch will survive the economic pressures by getting through on a skeleton work force.
There is a pecking order when it comes to surviving such issues as belt tightening. First to go are the incidentals. Staff will first notice putting their own hands in their pockets for tea and coffee, then the tea breaks will be shortened to ensure time is spent more productively, followed by cleaning services being dispensed with, putting more pressure on the remaining staff.
Sometimes, companies will cut corners with their services or products but this is counter-productive. If the quality of services diminishes then so do the customers. More conducive to surviving the credit crunch is to make what business you do, more effective. This certainly does not involve cutting corners but providing an efficient service to the best of the company's abilities.
One way of standing out from your competitors is to ensure that your service or product is easily accessible, straightforward and competitively priced. Many companies are beginning to recognise the benefits of custom software development to help with this process.
Everything in life is now computerised. This does not, however, ensure ease of use. Off the shelf software packages have long been used for companies to adapt their business to the software and thus have a useable programme that works even if it doesn't quite fit. Off the shelf software packages are cheaper than the custom software development process but it is this 'not quite fitting' is the hiccup that could make all the difference in the face of harsh competition.
To use the services of custom software development means that the IT solutions you are implementing will fit your business like a glove. It can grow or downsize depending on the needs of your business at the time. This will lead to a service that is fast and efficient, which then leads to a quicker turnover to impressed customers, leading to recommendations, leading to a more powerful business.
There are, however, drawbacks to custom software development. The first is the expense. It will take a whole team of analysts, programmers, technical writers and hardware and software specialists to come up with a bespoke piece of software. So, it would seem that in the long run custom software development is a good thing but you need adequate funds to start with to cover the costs of development and you also need to balance the pros and cons of this outlay within your accounts.
Their needs to be absolute clarity between software developer and customer to understand every aspect of the customers business needs now and in the future. If there is any grey areas, these will manifest themselves in the form of an expensive piece of bespoke software that just isn't quite up to the job; a waste of money.
Compatibility between existing customer systems and that of their customers can sometimes become an issue also. This can lead to frustrated customers who then choose to go elsewhere. On the other hand, there are some excellent off the shelf software packages that are designed to meet the needs of certain fields. Along with the much lower price tag, this ease of use can often sway an already hard up customer to stick with what he knows, a software package that will be easy to install.
Much depends on the type of business you have. If it is a common type of business eg. plumbing supplies, then there is bound to be a quality off the shelf software package that will accommodate your needs. But for those more unique businesses, then it is possible that only custom software development will suffice.
IT expert Catherine Harvey looks at the debate of custom software development against off the shelf software solutions.