An Introduction to Tailor-made Software
TO BUY OR TO MAKE?
As a business owner I use software daily. As a software business owner I create software. That puts me in a rare situation: I can decide whether to buy off-the shelf software or make my own. Most business owners aren’t so fortunate and have a different decision to make: they can pay for off-the-shelf software or pay someone else to develop something tailor-made for them. It might surprise you to know that I nearly always use off-the-shelf software. If I want to share files with the team at Dvelop.IT I’ll use Dropbox. If I want to collaborate with them I’ll use Slack. If I want to share things with the rest of the world I’ll use Hootsuite.
I pay for it too. At some point in the past I realised I’d outgrown the free versions of these apps and opted to pay for them. So now I get slightly better product and better support but I also get a monthly bill.
This suits me for now. Don’t get me wrong; I do have a constant nagging feeling that I’m betraying what we do but that’s quickly dismissed when I look at the cost of developing something bespoke.
As an established and successful software house that has all of the tools and the knowledge to develop bespoke software at cost it still hasn’t made sense for me to do so.
THE RIGHT TIME
When is the right time for a business to move from off-the-shelf software to a tailor-made solution?
For Dvelop.IT, that time is now.
We’ve been hard at work recently creating our own take on time tracking software. At least, that’s how it started out. Soon we realised we could do so much more than just track time for billing purposes.
As soon as we had the beginnings of our own system; that we could control, steer and mould into something perfect for us, our imaginations went into overdrive. Could it do this, could it automate that, could it measure X and Y, could it cut down on Z? And of course, the answer was always yes.
Contrast that with off-the-shelf software: Could it do this? Maybe, maybe not. But if not, then tough. Could it automate that? Only if it’s built in. Could it measure X and Y? Possibly but only if the metrics you’re looking for suit the general population of users. Could it cut down on Z? Of course not. No-one cares about Z – what… are you daft?
If off-the-shelf software matches your needs or at least comes close then now is not the right time. If you’ve reached the tipping point where it no longer does or it’s preventing your business from moving forwards then now is the right time.
But tailor-made software is expensive, complicated, unreliable and takes years to develop… doesn’t it?
PRICE, VALUE, COST?
3 simple truths:
1. The price of tailor-made software is lower than the cost of using off the-shelf software beyond its lifespan.
Once you’ve hit the tipping point in your business where off-the-shelf software is actually becoming a hindrance it only gets worse. As your business grows so will your software needs. Your patched together processes using off-the-shelf software won ‘t be flexible enough and they certainly won’t scale in line with your business. The complete opposite is true of a tailor-made solution. You own the system and you own the code. You can steer it in any direction and it will continue to grow with you.
2. The value of your own tailor-made software is far higher than the costs incurred to get it developed.
When you do make the plunge into something custom made you are immediately investing in your own business. In every single instance I’ve seen, that investment is worth many multiples of the costs involved. That value might be seen daily when something slow and manual is now automated or it might be seen at the point of sale of the business. Regardless, the value is far higher than the cost.
3. The opportunity cost of not making the best use of software is huge.
Software transforms markets and your competitors aren’t sleeping. Technology is disruptive. Whether that’s early PC’s disrupting the minicomputers of the 70’s and 80’s, emails disrupting the postal and greeting card industries or the internet disrupting, well, just about everything. In every case of software being a disruptive influence on a market there are also onlookers who wonder why they missed the opportunity, why they weren’t pioneering those ideas. They had the knowledge – after all, who knows your market better than you do? Perhaps the risk was too great – software can be expensive after all. However, the point is, the cost of being an onlooker and watching your business struggle or your market share shrink is, ultimately, far more expensive.
Perhaps now is the TIME to MAKE your own way and see what VALUE a software solution developed by Dvelop.IT can offer your business?
Our promise: we’ll only ever recommend a bespoke software solution to you if your business really needs it.