It is essential to build custom software that meets the specific needs of your business in today’s markets. Custom software development allows you to address your particular needs so it is more efficient and cost-effective than Commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS). With that being said, Commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS) solutions are meant for a wider range of audience as it meets a wider set of requirements. They are also promoted and marketed to be embedded in daily business applications. However, custom software development examples are also present in the business environment around the world. For instance, we can see how effective e-commerce solutions and portals are for staff and students, which promote a streamlined experience. Read on to find out more about the best practices of custom software development.
- 1) What Is Custom Software Development?
- 2) Is Custom Software Development important?
- 2.1) Off-the-shelf Software vs. Custom Software
- 2.2) Advantages of Custom Software Development
- 2.3) Disadvantages of Custom Software Development
- 3) Best Practices for Developing Custom Software
- 4) Final Thoughts
- 5) Related posts
What Is Custom Software Development?
The process of custom software development often includes designing, producing, deploying, and maintaining software for a specific set of users or businesses. Instead of aiming to satisfy the needs of a wider audience like Commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS), custom software development is meant to address a narrower set of requirements. That’s why it is considered more efficient, depending on your target audience.
Bespoke software, or custom software development, needs a detailed plan to fit the unique technology solution. The task is often completed by in-house development teams or outsourced. Custom software development follows similar processes, from gathering, code construction, and testing to deployment and familiar methodologies such as Agile, DevOps, or Rapid Application Development.
Read more about custom software development methodologies: Offshore software development methodology – A success is on the horizon
Bespoke software would also involve application customization, application modernization, and application management. The first refers to modifying COTS applications to meet a particular need while the second maintains the viability to meet evolving user and market demands. Application management support tasks like installation, optimization, maintenance, and service desk functions.
Is Custom Software Development important?
Bespoke software development is paramount as it helps businesses meet their specific needs at a competitive price. Purchasing, maintaining and modifying commercial software may require a higher price tag.
Below are some benefits of custom software development:
- Efficiency: support processes seamlessly, without tinkering with or adjusting COTS applications.
- Scalability: offer easy adaptation when the business grows. Future needs can be assessed as part of the requirements and then incorporated into the application. This removes incurring costs from purchasing additional licenses or subscriptions of packaged applications.
- Reasonable integration costs: smart integration with its intended environment.
- Independence: avoid price hikes for licensing, supporting, and maintaining software when the vendor goes out of business or terminates a product. On the other hand, the cost of supporting and maintaining custom software falls to the client. Businesses of all sizes should consider carefully whether to build or to buy to achieve maximum effect.
Off-the-shelf Software vs. Custom Software
Commercial-off-the-shelf software, or COTS, is a package of software available to a wider audience with similar needs such as Microsoft products. Thus, this kind of software application does not cater to the needs of a specific group like custom software would.
Custom software development involves commissioning, designing, building, and releasing of a software product only for a particular customer. Therefore, the development of this software application will carry the organization’s branding, implementation, and infrastructure needs in mind.
Advantages of Custom Software Development
Custom software development allows you to specify what and how you want your product to be. The following are the main advantages of custom software:
A long-term and smart investment
For smaller businesses, custom software development can be pricey but will yield benefits in the long run. Such businesses will have the chance to realize what they want and need in their applications. As a result, they would not have to cover the unnecessary expenses that would entail licenses, useless features, and additional hardware.
Designed for you and you only
Even though custom software development requires working closely with the development company, it enables the developer to satisfy your needs and requirements more easily. This will lead to a high-quality product.
Enjoy a boost in productivity
As the name suggests, bespoke software is designed to meet your specific needs and requirements. This will provide a much-needed increase in confidence for your team, which leads to higher efficiency and productivity.
Unlike COTS, custom software is less prone to external threats such as cyber-attacks. It will pose a challenge to cyber criminals to infiltrate because of the software’s closely connected processes.
Maintenance and support
Custom software development often entails a reliable technical and support team, which includes the developers of the application. This means that they are more familiar with the software, and will be able to handle any issues.
Disadvantages of Custom Software Development
Custom software requires constant monitoring and maintenance. It might also be more expensive than COTS and take more time to develop and finish.
Best Practices for Developing Custom Software
When it comes to custom software development, there are many parts that need to be considered. Generally, the best practices of custom software development include the 7 following steps:
Choose the right personnel for the job
Because custom software development is a complex process, it is vital to hire the right people for the job. Take a look at:
- Your in-house team.
- Software outsourcing development companies and vendors.
- People you contract or hire specifically for the project.
Some businesses may want to handle custom software development with their in-house team to save money. However, relying on them alone poses some problems. The in-house team often has to maintain their core functions in your business. As a result, putting a project of this size and importance on them could slow down the operations of the whole company. Also, the in-house team may not be experienced or trained in that specific area.
It is advisable to consider leaving custom software development to the best companies. In this case, highly skilled and talented developers that have successfully implemented similar projects for other customers are readily available. Outsourcing may also enable you to find a company that specializes in custom software development.
Define Your Current/Future Needs and Process
Your current process, a measure of success, and expectations are the most important when you are planning for custom software development. It goes without saying that the current process will reflect on the overall management process. That’s why you should consult with experts about the current process to avoid making assumptions. Discuss your desired state and workflows as well as other processes that are involved.
Create a Realistic Plan with Milestones
Assemble a team that includes some subject-matter experts, developers, and project managers, to direct and lead the overall initiative. Then, the next step is to create a realistic roadmap. For instance, creating a complex shipping system and workflow in a week is simply impossible.
Additionally, to keep your project on track, you should set milestones for it. With custom software development, there are different stages that need to be completed. You need to review the work at each milestone and determine whether you should make any changes.
One of the basic things in software development is coding. As a result, it is vital to implement it effectively and smoothly. The common method involves setting up small and self-tested modules in the development process. In addition, automating processes is advisable to ensure that functionality in the product is working.
Before the new product is implemented across all business functions, testing must be completed and usually occurs in two levels. IT professionals and developers will carry out technical testing to determine if the basic elements are fully functional. The second level, user testing, will be carried out by business beta users to see if the software works as intended.
Document the Entire Process
Documentation plays an important role in the development and implementation phases of custom software development. It allows you to define your value and asset. Therefore, when it comes to outsourcing, logging a trail of communication with the outsourcing company to avoid issues in the future is advisable. Another benefit of documentation is to help you deal with any changes in staffing in the future.
The most crucial documents include requirement specifications, project plans, test reports and plans, user documentation, status reports, and low-level and high-level design (LLD and HLD).
A project plan contains who is responsible for each task, expectations, and set dates.
A checklist and a test plan ensure that your software is properly tested.
An implementation plan defines the who and the when of the actual usage of the product.
A detailed user documentation and training plan ensure that involved parties are not left with questions or frustrations after launching the new resource.
Deploy and Review
The best practices of custom software development would not be complete without deployment and review. It is crucial to build reviews from both experts and peer reviews on the deliverables which include code and documents. Completing this part will allow you to have a bug-free product ready to launch.
Custom software development has become more and more popular as more companies opt for digital transformation. Once the transformation is complete, they would have access to cutting-edge technology solutions to solve specific issues in their business. The best practices for custom software development include 7 essential steps: choosing the right people, defining process and future needs, creating a roadmap, coding, testing, documenting, and deploying.
If you are in need of a custom software development service, feel free to contact us right today!
HDWEBSOFT is a leading custom software development located in Vietnam and has over a decade of experience in developing custom software solutions.