Businesses that use off-the-shelf ERP software often incur additional cost for adding users, licenses, and upgrades. When the firm constantly needs to change its internal processes to conform to the ERP System they have indications that customization is necessary.
Other conditions, such as infrastructure incompatibilities, security issues, and obsolescence can also motivate business owners and managers to consider hiring a developer to design customizations without going to the original vendor. In fact, the option to modify off-the-shelf applications has been used by an increasing number of businesses.
Software developers can provide services that help alleviate the shortcomings of commercial products without going to the extent and expense of creating a new application from scratch. As a result of this strategy, companies might have an affordable way to keep their customers satisfied, streamline their business processes, and update their capabilities. However, keep in mind that the possibilities and the associated costs of customization can dramatically vary.
8.3. How to Evaluate Whether Your Business Needs Custom Software
Before investing in custom management software, you should carefully consider the needs of your business. If you face unique circumstances, which manual processes or software tools cannot address, you might need to contact a software developer. If, however, you face a relatively standard predicament, you might be able to cobble together one or more accounting software applications or utilities to overcome the obstacle posed by your off-the-shelf product.
Of course, despite the limitations of your accounting systems or the special needs of your company, the decision to choose custom software might seem unclear. In that case, the following steps can help you understand whether your business needs custom software.
Assess Your Needs
If you have general requirements for your software and your business processes are fairly routine, you probably can get by with commercially available software such as ERPNext. On the other hand, if your firm provides innovative products and services or if you simply need to get a leg up on the competition, custom software can help.
Determine Pros and Cons
Software development requires lengthy design and development processes and can often require a substantial upfront investment. Still, off-the-shelf products also have drawbacks. Despite the lower upfront cost and speedy acquisition of prepackaged products, they can cripple business operations and require ongoing expenditures that can bring the total cost of ownership to the same level as that of custom software.
Just as no two commercial software applications are exactly the same, every custom software design is unique. Knowing this, you can expect to have a difficult time comparing the costs of ownership of the various available options. Still, businesses are by nature cost-conscious and must, therefore, attempt to accurately calculate expenses.
Generally, factors that influence the price of a software solution include its size and scope, complexity, compatibility with other systems and data formats. Additionally, the cost of finding a solution dramatically increases if the purchase of an off-the-shelf product fails to address the needs of the firm. In such a case, the company must pay for the failed solution as well as a custom developed replacement.
After getting a feel for the associated costs of the available off-the-shelf solutions, start connecting with software developers to get and an idea of the potential cost of a custom solution. A good development team can create a design based on your ideas and budget and then add and remove features to achieve a balance between cost and functionality.
8.4. A Variety of Benefits
Consult the following list to find out how a customized software solution might benefit your business:
- Custom software eliminates the need to pay for the superfluous features included in boxed applications.
- Custom designs fit the internal processes of the organization and thereby enable higher levels of productivity and efficiency.
- Companies that invest in custom software designs own the intellectual property and use it as an asset as well as a competitive advantage.
- Unlike prepackaged solutions that often require expensive and unwieldy transitions to larger service plans, custom software developers can scale their applications dynamically as the needs of the firm change.
- Custom software providers have the time and personnel needed to provide high levels of support to their clients.
- Custom solutions minimize the risk of obsolescence because developers can always update and revise their code to meet the demands of new technology.
8.5. Hiring the Right Software Development Company
Your choice of a software development company can have a direct impact on the success and suitability of your custom application. Unlike a single transaction at a single point of time required to buy boxed software, the process of software development is both lengthy and ongoing. In fact, in many ways, it is more like a journey than a transaction.