Computer Software has changed the world and it is all around us. Nobody would have thought that within few decades, the software will become an inherent part of our lives. You name a thing or a function in our lives, and you will find software working behind that, helping us availing the utility of that stuff.
Softwares are basically of two types, Commercial off the shelf softwares (COTS) and Custom softwares. The shelf softwares are actually pre-designed softwares for a wide range of customers, various operating systems, office applications, mobile applications, browsers, etc are examples of Off the shelf softwares, which one can purchase from the vendor and can use the given features and utilities. However, COTS targets a wider set of requirements, that allows it to be commercially marketed and distributed. This softwares are designed for all the customers, and there is a risk that it might not meet all of your business’s requirements.
On the other hand, Custom software is made as per the requirement of a customer, which will provide tailored made features as requested by the customer.
What is a Custom Software Development?
As the name suggests, it is the process of developing, designing, testing, deploying, and maintaining software to cater to the specific set of requirements for end-users or organizations. Custom software developed on the basis of a narrowly defined set of requirements.
Example of customized software
- A hospital management system for a Hospital.
- An online banking solution for a specific bank, which is tailored made for that bank only.
- Online food order and delivery application for a restaurant.
Custom software development is also known as Bespoke software development. It is carried out mostly by the in-house software development teams, or outsourced to a third-party software firm. We use similar methodologies or technologies which we use in COTS and a familiar approach is used to gather requirements, software design, coding testing, and deployment.
A custom software development process includes software ion customization, application modernization, and application management. Software customization refers to making changes in the Off-the-shelf softwares to cater to the requirements of individuals or organizations. It is important for a business to work on software customization and modernization to ensure and maintain its viability.
Benefits of Custom Software development
Tailor-made for the specific needs
Custom software establishes a direct relationship between the Development company and your organization. The In-house team or the 3rd party software development firm can easily adapt to the requirement and collaborate in a better fashion to develop the best solution of the problems identified. It will remain a tailored-made software for your firm and it is uniques as far as requirements, features, and ownership are concerned.
Long-term but Smart investment
Developing custom software is indeed a long-term investment, but it is a smart investment as well. It is an expensive investment since we have to start the software development process right from the scratch, but it gives a huge business value in long term. Also, it will help us reduce extra cost, which could be invested on unnecessary additional features, additional payment cost for licenses, hardware and AMD functions which we may never use, that’s how usually happen in Off the shelf software. If we do a cost-benefit analysis, it is easily assessed that Custom software offers huge long-term benefits, which far outweigh the problems and expenses while purchasing off-the-shelf software.
The custom software is developed by mapping all our requirements, hence it tends to increase the overall productivity and the processes of an organization. It helps people to perform their tasks efficiently and faster as well.
Maintenance as long as required
Custom software is owned by the entity which has paid for its development. Hence, it’s up to the owner to carry out any changes, updates, or maintenance activities at any stage later. Whereas, in the off-the-shelf software, we always remain at the mercy of the Software Vendor, who carry out the periodic maintenance and updates on the software. However, this puts our business in a vulnerable position, as we have to be highly dependent on the 3rd party software vendor, even if we know some gaps or bugs, we cant make the necessary changes on our own. Whereas with custom software, we can work with the Developer team, which can immediately be made the changes in the software, and we can get the schedule created for such frequent maintenance and updates.
Commercial software is highly prone to security threats, hacking and other attacks, as it is available to a larger set of people. Its code and functionality are easily available, hence it is comparatively easy to crack the code. Where the custom software is highly secure and well-positioned to counter any security threats. It is available to a very limited audience, and that’s why its features and functionalities are almost hidden from the people, which makes it highly secure and less prone to security threats. Hackers will stay away from carrying out any attack on custom software.
The primary objective of any business is to grow further and earn more revenue and customer base, that’s the whole idea behind starting it in the first place. Commercial off-the-shelf software may not able to support and handle the ever-increasing business demands, due to some design issues or certain limitations. Whereas custom software is developed while keeping all the future considerations and scalability in mind. Hence, it will be able to support any sort of scaling or up-gradation in the future, that too without having risks or challenges to the business in the future.
Custom software offers a highly dependable and customized technical support team, that knows the software right from the beginning, as they are engaged with the development team from the scratch. The support team knew all the in and outs of the software and they can address the day-to-day concerns of the end-users in a much effective way, which in turn enhances the customer experience.
Steps to develop custom software for your idea
If we want to develop custom software for our own idea, then we must follow the given steps.
1. Evaluation and discovery
Ask yourself that does your business needs custom software? This is an important step to evaluate your requirements. Custom software development has endless potential to push and enhance your internal business process, services, products, and data with other business verticles. It’s better to worth looking at the existing solutions with the organization before thinking or planning to buy a new solution, otherwise, we will waste our resources. The further step includes an assessment of organizational capabilities to assess the scope of work.
– Is an internal development team is capable to handle the bulk development?
Or involvement of 3rd party required?
The idea of Outsourcing comes into the picture only when the internal team is unable to handle it.
– Is our development team can integrate the software into our day-to-day office life process. Or will it be handled by 3rds party support
Get estimation when you have completed the evaluation of all aspects related to custom software development and you have a strong need for this solution.
2. Budget planning
In this stage, we should allocate the range of budget to accommodate any changes at a later stage of software development. Well, there is no perfect solution available that accurately applies to custom software development, it varies and it also depends on the value of the dollar which drives it in the background.
For example, developing a dedicated customer portal could impact the business by 5%-10%, hence we have to perform an adequate estimation of project value by keeping the 5%-10% variation in consideration. After performing such an estimation of increase and decrease in revenue you can add the cost of customer acquisition than you would be able to bear due to an increase in retention of the customer.
The final Output of this brainstorming kind of exercise is enough to form a structural diagram of your budget planning. Business-oriented knowledge is helpful to make the right decision at the right time and budget capacity is best determined by a group of stakeholders who possess deep knowledge of technical aspects and business strategies.
If you are planning to assign the project to your internal team, then we must perform a thorough return on investment analysis, that will help us understand the worth of the resources. Do remember that we are evaluating the custom software development by keeping all the aspects in mind like possible uses, time, resources, and cost. Regarding budget considerations, while assigning jobs to any 3rd party vendor, you need to scroll through this article below.
3. Choose the right Software Development Methodologies
After doing a thorough analysis of budget and investment capacity now it’s time to understand the capabilities of our in-house team and to determine which technology and software development methodology we would be employing to proceed with the further development process.
Waterfall Model – It is the oldest and proven model for Software development and often called as ‘Traditional Software Development Model’. It follows a well-structured linear approach and it works on a simple principle, ‘You finish one stage and only then you can start the next one’, as the next stage is highly dependent on the earlier stage.
Agile development – It is a method to break development phases into various constituents and to get frequent feedback to move towards the desired and appropriate version of the project. It’s an effective and fast-paced method of software development that requires regular monitoring and offer incremental feedback from the customer, which helps us make the necessary improvement. Here the development team can work rapidly and cover a lot of activities in one go while being able to closely monitored to ensure the project never goes off track.
Scrum – This methodology helps organizations and developers to Fastrack their software development process, and this methodology can be applied to any critical business process as well. The Scrum team starts the project with initial planning, then detailed planning and analysis follow. The scrum team created and it consists of resources with cross-functional capabilities, who contribute in different steps like requirement analysis, software designing, software coding, testing, and installation. Scrum is a highly flexible method, where any change in the user’s requirements is addressed rapidly and reflected in the iterative sprints.
DevOps – It is a holistic approach based on Agile software development methodology, which incorporates multiple processes into single and streamlined processes ie. design, development, and software deployment. In other words, we can say that it is a set of practices that integrates IT operations and Software development, and its sole objective is to shorten the overall software development process to offer efficient and high-quality software.
Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) – SAFe it was originally derived and designed to build agile development methods and principles for large scale organization. SAFe follows an approach of custom software development process that decentralizes the capability of making decisions and precisely assign roles and responsibilities, and various sort of activities and processes which are more focused towards process goals and objectives to ensure all business stakeholders are aligned and engaged. The prime feature or the main advantage of SAFe is that it can handle multiple teams and employ a top-down approach to accommodate and manage the complex layers of administration and oversight.
Rapid Application Development (RAD) – RAD is another Agile-based methodology that accentuates active software and feedback of the consumer over streamlined and strategic planning. This concept is helpful in dividing the software development projects into small sub-units or individually controllable parts and allows you to make decisions and working on it appropriately and swiftly.RAD also has a disadvantage, that it demands highly skilled resources to execute the software development. The speed of this execution may hinder the opportunities to received customer feedback and work upon them.
4. Chose the right Technology
There are many Technology Stacks, methodologies, and APIs that can play an important role in the custom software development project. Please go through the below-mentioned points to know more about the most usable technologies that can be used to develop custom software for an idea.
Technology Stack – A technology stack is an important constituent of a software development process, it can make or break the product if we don’t make the right choice. It includes all the software development frameworks, programming languages, tools, and frameworks that are utilized to develop the software. Choosing the right set of Stack and defining them beforehand is critical for the success of the project, as we have to decide the kind of expertise we need, only on the basis of the Stack we are going to use. If you are a non-technical person, then we would recommend taking expert advice for this step, as this has a cascading effect on cost, time, efforts, and ultimately the viability of the product. Surely, if you are a non-technical founder yourself, this part is going to be tricky for you. Also, never choose a Technology stack just because your competitors are using it, always make a sound choice after performing a thorough analysis of all the aspects of your proposed product.Broadly we can divide the Stacks in two types-
Open Source – Open source word itself means something available without any restrictions. Here the software code is available for everyone, who can make the necessary changes and make custom changes per business requirements. There is a benefit of using open-source code, software developers can avoid the use of proprietary products, which may hinder the capability of software interoperability at any later stage. Here are a few examples of open-source software which includes Drupal, Apache, Linux, and PostgreSQL. Although there are various open-source software solutions available across all the verticals of software development.
Cloud-Based Development – Software development in the cloud-based environment offers a wide range of benefits. The Cloud vendors not only offer the next level of security and availability by keeping a focus on limiting hardware failure, but they also offer huge compute capabilities, almost unlimited amount of storage. Cloud also offers the seamless ability to deploy and host your software development in the cloud, where they provide innovative functions required for software development, like coding, software design, testing, and integration. Cloud can enhance the overall software development process and make it highly available for the end-users.
Artificial Intelligence – Artificial Intelligence offers software an ability to learn, handle and take decision taken just like a human being. ML (machine learning) algorithms are used to improve user experience and AI-based applications like natural language processing (NLP) can convert text to speech and speech to text which enhances the application accessibility. Artificial intelligence may help you in finding neared café to driving automatic cars soon. AI would help us in managing and controlling operations at stock for delivering true medical reports. Some are the listed example of AI which can reduce unnecessary efforts for simple task completion: In the medical field, AI-based assistance can handle multiple jobs like repetitive and complex tasks, everyday applications and error reduction, etc.
Blockchain – Blockchain is been considered a secure ledger which is digitally linked, which reduces the cost of the transaction and offers next-level security solution compared to traditional solutions provided by banks regulatory bodies. Developers can use the Blockchain ledgers to design and develop solutions that can handle secure transactions for eCommerce or financial institutions.
Mobile Applications. Smartphone has become a vital part for any business and the presence of a small handheld device can provide a quick platform for business owners and their consumers’ interaction because nowadays everyone is targeting new or existing consumers through a smartphone. Everyone has the internet and a smartphone, so making a mobile presence is quite important for any organization across any domain. Mobile-based applications provide way better and immersive user experience if we compare them with browser-based web applications, it also offers high precision integration with different applications and services on different platforms.
It is a pre-eminent component of the custom software development process. This stage is known for conceptualizing the proposed solution, it includes several activities to create the detailed architecture of the software to meet the specific software requirements. The architects and project manager define the standards and workflows and devise the software design together with database design and structure. In this stage, we develop a visual model, which explains the functionality of the proposed software, where it also defines the software/hardware components of the custom software.
Once we have allocated an adequate budget, we have selected the necessary methodology and technologies, the next important stage is Scheduling. It is a project management sort of task, where we have to create a schedule to ensure organize team efforts and resource utilization. This would include the creation of the milestones, that will list all the key deliverables and answerable business stakeholders. It is important to have everyone on board and aligned with the project schedule, though there are chances of delays or diversion at the later stages, however, if the schedule is well defined, such changes can be countered well. A clear and well-defined schedule would help us accomplish software development in time.
7. Build Phase
So now we have reached the final phase of custom software development, so all tedious and difficult tasks have been completed and this phase is crucial because here things could go awry if not managed quickly and efficiently. It’s recommended that the team focused on achieving the milestones on time and follow a scheduled timeline to complete all jobs accordingly. And for that, we should always encourage our teams to move in the right direction and provide frequent updates to all the stakeholders. Regular and effective communication will clear all doubts of team members and you would be able to meet the project schedule efficiently. By adhering to the defined schedule and guidelines, we would be able to meet all targets and won’t impact budget and timelines. Which is more important and visible in every aspect of the custom software development cycle.
Choose a suitable Custom Software development organization?
There are a couple of factors, that need to be evaluated before selecting the right Software development company, which offers Custom Software Development. Some of the below-listed factors should be in your customer development team/organization.
Speed – It’s an essential factor that plays an important role in every software development stage ranges from Design to Prototyping– it’s necessary and essential for churning out the values from the custom software project. The rapid software development will make you act quickly, something that is helpful in situations, where you have to alter the project course or discover another element that you need to incorporate at the last moment.
Quality – We should pay more attention towards ensuring the high-quality code, for that even if we pay more, it will be highly beneficial in the long term, as it will prevent us from doing any sort of rework to fix the broken code. A quality code is quite easier to maintain and update for any custom software work in the future.
Stable code – similar to the quality code, the stable code refers to a bug-free code that is thoroughly tested by the Quality testers. Here we have to look for established organizations with enough experience in making and testing stable code.
Reliable User Experience – The seven factors that describe a good user experience are Usable, Useful, Credible, Findable, Desirable, Valuable, and Accessible. Your software’s user interface should have all these 7 attributes to enhance the user experience.
Payment Structure – Before outsourcing the project to a 3rd party software development vendor, we have to carefully think about whether we sign the contract via a Flat project fee, or we will make the payments on a part-time or hourly basis. Both payment structure has their own merits and demerits, so please take the decision based on a thorough analysis.
Team Location – Locations of the developers play a major role while taking the decision of employing the 3rd party vendors. If we are based in major cities, we may have to pay exorbitant costs while working with the local talent. If we are comfortable enough to hire remote developers, who are based at geographically different locations, we may see a huge drop in the software development cost, however, we have to pay more attention to software quality control. It a quite a challenge to maintain software quality standards while working with remote developers, but quality could be achieved by employing Industry’s best practices and frameworks.
Our first piece of advice is, please don’t let the unknown scare you. Please have trust in your idea and have self-belief, then start with the software development journey with the steps mentioned above. If we keep all the aspects in mind and use the correct strategy, then we will be able to develop a wonderful product, which may revolutionize the Technology world, just like Windows, iMac, Facebook, or Twitter.
The market for Customized software has been growing in leaps and bounds, there is a massive rise in the demand for custom software development and people with the right skill set and expertise. Custom software development offers numerous benefits and cost and effort advantages as well. An increasing business using the minimum amount of time would help you to see in many directions to grow your business. Well, the demand for custom software development will keep rising in near future too.
Rahul Mathur is the founder and managing director of ARKA Softwares, a company renowned for its outstanding mobile app development and web development solutions as well as specialized in Android and iOS app development. Delivering high-end modern solutions to all over the globe, Rahul takes pleasure in sharing his experiences and views on the latest technological trends.