Many businesses use off-the-shelf software packages, which means thousands or even millions use the same applications. There are times, however, when you could make use of software that has been specially designed for your specific business needs.
Bespoke software applications are basically custom-made software applications. In the past, software consultants only offered packaged and generally applicable software to businesses of all kinds and sizes. Recently though, a lot of companies have gone into the business of offering bespoke software for clients with specific needs that cannot be satisfied by packaged software.
Which types of organisations use bespoke software?
Bespoke software applications are mostly used by retailers, hospitals and surgeries, and schools.
Each retailer has a unique set of products to sell for which a custom-made software application makes a lot of sense. This application can be used to handle stock details and to generate bills. Hospitals and surgeries, meanwhile, can keep and retrieve patient data anytime with the help of bespoke software. It even allows doctors and their assistants to send patient data through a network, along with a host of other tasks. Schools use bespoke software to keep student admission details, to produce certificates and to automate processes.
Obviously, the use of bespoke software applications is not limited to these types of organisations. All kinds of businesses can benefit from software applications that are developed with their specific needs in mind.
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What are the benefits of using bespoke software?
Having bespoke software developed means that your software is tailored to match the way your business works. It can be designed to interface with other software applications that you use and so give you a fully integrated IT infrastructure.
Because bespoke software can be tuned to specific needs, it provides performance benefits that do not come with packaged software use. It’s easier and more intuitive to use because it doesn’t come with unnecessary facilities and operates the way you’re used to working. It can incorporate processes specific to your business unlike any packaged solution. It’s much more flexible and can be modified over time in line with your requirements and practice changes.
You will also usually get much better support from bespoke software developers. Good developers can significantly add value to your business by suggesting alternatives and improvements. In a nutshell, using professionally developed bespoke software can give your business significant advantages over your competitors.
Does bespoke software use have drawbacks?
Like everything else, bespoke software use has disadvantages too. If you don’t have the source code, for instance, you’re dangerously exposed and wholly dependent on the developer. But you can avoid this problem by making sure your developer gives you the source code once their job is done. If your software wasn’t developed by a professional, it may not adhere to best practice standards and so may be unstable, unreliable and full of bugs. Choosing a developer who adheres to these standards will allow you to avoid this.
Compared with packaged software, bespoke software costs much more. This is usually the biggest reason why a lot of businesses don’t opt for bespoke software. You need to go through a rigid business justification exercise and compare costs against expected returns.
Finally, a lot of developers can be incompetent, unprofessional, or difficult to work with. It’s hard to sort out the good ones from the bad ones so exert due diligence. Dig into developers’ backgrounds and talk to some of their recent clients.
The bottom line
Using bespoke software can potentially give you major business and commercial benefits and allow you to gain significant competitive advantages. But you have to pay more for it than you would for a packaged solution. And if you do decide that bespoke software use is for you, make sure you get a professional developer who adheres to best practice standards and will give you the source code once their job is done.
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