5 Benefits of a Custom Business Applications
How custom business applications can benefit your business
Custom Business Applications
Traditional software applications are developed with a “one size fits all” approach. They are pre-packaged products solving a well-defined set of problems with a particular set of features that you purchase or subscribe to. Today you will find a solution for just about any business area; customer management, resource planning, inventory management, product management, accounting and finance, and much, much more. For many businesses, this is all they need. Set of well-oiled tools – each with a particular purpose that helps them perform their daily work and run the business. Today’s modern companies, however, perform many functions and have evolved in a way that no two have the same business model or processes. Some processes remain outside of what an off-the-shelf product can handle and end up being managed in spreadsheets or worse, on paper. Custom business applications can solve this problem.
What is a Custom Business Application
There is an app for that. Someone at Apple
It is a commonly held belief that commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) software is a better choice than custom software. There are lots of awesome apps out there with great features and large communities, that solve many typical challenges of running a business. Of course, if your present software works well and meets all your business needs, there is no reason to switch to something new, whether it’s a custom or a COTS solution. There are however many cases where custom application is the right choice.
While COTS software usually comes with a lower initial price tag and is typically ready to be used, it’s not always the best choice in the long term. A single product can fail to address the needs of your business and accommodate ever-changing requirements. You might end up with a series of applications and the need to integrate or consolidate. You might even end up upgrading to a more expensive tier because of that one feature you really need – ending up using only a fraction of offered functionality and underutilizing the rest. Managing multiple distinct applications from various vendors – even if they offer some way to integrate, can be burdensome, expensive and complicated. You might even need to hire an IT professional to write some integration code to keep everything in sync and exchange information. Or you buy another product that promises to do it for you.
And then there is the area of your business for which you can’t find a ready-made solution at all. Maybe you are in a niche domain, have specific data or compliance needs, your business model is non-repeatable or too small of a market for any software company to tackle and deliver a commercial product. Or maybe you are simply looking for something unique, tailored to you that nobody has – to give you the advantage you know you need to compete.
You are not in control. On the end of the day – you are just one of many customers and your needs and asks might not make it into the development pipeline or product roadmap of your vendor. You might not get the features you want or changes you need.
The Case for Custom Business Application
Custom business applications try to overcome the outlined challenges by providing a solution that caters to your specific needs. They might address a small – missing piece at first, and over time evolve and grow to address even your most complex business requirements. They should only contain functionality that you need, unlike traditional applications where you buy the whole package whether you use it or not.
Here are 5 reasons for choosing custom business application:
1. Improves efficiency and enables quick reaction to change
2. Grows and adapts
with your business
3. Provides the ultimate customization and personalization
4. Offers better support
5. Gives you data ownership and easier path to analytics
1.Improves efficiency and enables quick reaction to change
Custom business applications are designed to work for your business. They are effective, “speak your language” and fit your precise needs. Especially if you are in a niche space and your data & domain is fairly unique, going with a custom application is a great choice. COTS vendors are also often slow to adapt to change or demand from customers. They have to get a return on their investment before they spend more on product development, they have to weigh in all of their customer’s input and prioritize. So your feature request may get ignored if it does not benefit a user base large enough to make sense.
With custom applications you are not locked into functionality nor schedules, you can move more quickly when changes in functionality are required and get exactly what you need when you need it – so you can get more done in less time.
2. Grows and adapts with your business
Companies often don’t need all of the functions off-the-shelf products offer. By using a custom application you can start small, choose only the features and functionality you truly need and add more as you go. This ensures quick adoption, maximum utility and you won’t be burdened by overcomplicated processes, menus or user interfaces.
Properly built custom applications are built to be extendible and scale with your business. You control what gets added and when. As your business grows, the app will grow as well, adapting to your changing needs and staying relevant and effective for a long time.
3. Provides the ultimate customization and personalization
The user interface of a custom application is easier to customize and tweak to your teams and users. You can typically choose the look and feel of your app, adopt forms and layouts for the ultimate comfort and productivity of your team. Many effective solutions also enable end-users to change many aspects of their app without a need for a developer. This will ensure your team will actually want to use the app, ease the transition and provide maximum comfort and ergonomy for your users.
4. Offers better support
While many off the shelf products offer excellent support and services this is typically very narrow. More complex business processes span tools and teams, so in order to solve a more complex problem, you will most likely have to speak with multiple vendors – each referring to the other one as the potential bottleneck or problem. With a custom app, your vendor typically knows a lot more about your business since they developed the app with you – for you. It will be a lot easier to solve technical or process issues talking to a person that is aware and understands your business processes and has built your app than a support professional only aware of the narrow functionality of one product.
5. Gives you data ownership and a quicker path to analytics
The case for data access and analytics is simple yet many times underestimated. Since the business app is built from the ground app according to your needs and can accommodate functionality areas typically handled by different applications – you will already have many data pieces in one place. Coherent, clean, accessible and ready to be analyzed. This is a huge win – one that sort of comes as a side benefit.
This is much harder with standard product offerings where many times the only way to access your data is through the product’s user interface or rudimentary export features. Even if API’s are available – creating integration between multiple products and services can be a non-trivial undertaking. If you would, for example, want to build a business intelligence solution and want to access your data from a single place – you would need to spend a considerable amount of time and effort building data integration workflows on top of several products from different vendors with a high risk of failure.
With custom apps – you own the data, all of it – it is ready and available to be mined, analyzed and put to work. Putting analytics on top of it is just a natural step – maybe another extension of your already awesome custom business application.
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