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What is custom software? Why is it important?

Table of Contents

In the information technology industry, especially the software sector, businesses often prefer when a product or service has a personalized element, and that’s why custom software development satisfies this need. In this article, you’ll discover more to understand what is custom software and how it may benefit your company.

What is custom software?

Firstly, what is custom software? Custom software, commonly referred to as bespoke software or tailor-made software, is software that has been especially created for a particular company or user. As a result, it can be compared with using software programs created for the mass market, like commercial off-the-shelf software or already available free software. Custom software strives to meet a specific set of needs, as opposed to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software.

custom software

With custom software, the goal is to develop something fresh and distinctive that caters to a particular organization’s needs such as a manufacturer’s program for field service equipment upkeep or a bank’s and its customers’ unique requirements for an online banking app. It is not meant to be modified for use by any other organization. When a company or other entity has a highly specialized nature and no existing software packages are able to fully satisfy those needs, this type of software customization product is desirable.

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Custom software development definition

The process of developing, deploying, and sustaining software specifically for a given group of users, tasks, or organizations is known as custom software development. In-house development teams or outside contractors are typically used to create custom software. Custom software is developed using the same procedures and approaches as conventional software. The same processes, such as Agile, DevOps, or Rapid Application Development, would be used for a custom project in addition to the standard requirements gathering, coding, testing, and deployment phases.

Applications can be managed, customized, and modernized as part of the custom developed software process. Application customization describes adjusting commercial off-the-shelf software to accommodate unique needs.

The capacity of a company’s proprietary software to adapt to changing customer and market expectations depends critically on application modernization. Software is more effective when application management is used to assist operations including installation, upgrading, performance and availability optimization, and service desk functions.

What is custom software?

Why do companies need custom software?

Custom software creation is essential for businesses because it can help them satisfy specific needs at a price that is affordable compared to buying, maintaining, and modifying commercial software. Among the reasons are:

  • Independence: Positively, enterprises can avoid rising costs for licensing and support as well as being forced to continue using packaged software in the event that a vendor goes out of business or discontinues a product.
  • Lower integration costs: Compatibility with old programs is a key factor to take into account when purchasing commercial software. If the answer is no, businesses will need to invest more money in purchasing software that will work with their current infrastructure and communicate with it. Custom software can be created to integrate with the environment it is meant for.
  • Efficiency: Without the need to modify or customize COTS programs, custom software is specifically designed to assist processes quickly and productively.
  • Scalability: Custom software can expand as a company or industry develops and expands. Future demands can be evaluated by designers and developers as part of the requirements gathering process. Instead of spending money on additional licenses or subscriptions for bundled apps, these factors can then be incorporated into the application.
  • Profitability: Creating custom software offers the potential for financial gain. Businesses that create their own software may own it and hence be able to sell or grant licenses to other organizations, depending on the specifics of the project.

Why do companies need custom software development?

Keys to an efficient custom developed software

Decide whether to construct or purchase 

Making sure that custom software is actually required rather than purchasing a packaged solution is the first essential to a successful software customization project, and there is a strong reason to be certain. One strategy for conducting a build vs. purchase study is to determine whether there is already a packaged software solution that provides more than 80% of the required features to:

  • Support or automate one-of-a-kind business transactions
  • Manage information and statistics that are particular to a sector or business
  • Satisfy special privacy or security needs
  • Make it easier to integrate legacy applications and data
  • Replace or assist in cost-effectively combining existing solutions.
  • Increase productivity, swap out existing approaches or assist in their consolidation.
  • Open up new possibilities or boost competitive edge
  • Expand and adjust to new demands.

Collaboration

If it is decided to build, getting the support of key stakeholders and making sure they communicate and work together on the project is a crucial first step. Sponsors, users, developers, even clients and business associates outside the company are examples of collaborators.

Collaboration in this sense refers to business users working together on requirements, knowledge exchange among international development teams, and close cooperation between development and operations teams to increase quality and responsiveness.

Requirements

A distinct, agreed understanding of what the program must do—and not do—is one of the crucial outcomes of collaboration. In order to meet customer requests, address compliance, stay on schedule, and stay within budget, organizations need to effectively establish and manage requirements. A good prerequisite is: 

  • True (technically and legally possible)
  • Complete (expresses a whole notion or message) (expresses a whole idea or statement)
  • Clear (unambiguous and not confusing) (unambiguous and not confusing)
  • Consistent (not in contradiction with other requirements) (not in conflict with other requirements)
  • Verifiable (can be determined that the application fits the condition) (can be determined that the application meets the requirement)
  • Traceable (uniquely identified and tracked) (uniquely identified and tracked)
  • Feasible (can be completed within cost and timeframe) (can be accomplished within cost and schedule)
  • Modular (can be modified without undue impact) (can be changed without excessive impact)
  • independent of design (does not impose specific solutions on design).

Methodologies, technologies and practices

With requirements defined — and they will likely change more than once — applying mature, modern development methodologies and practices can help deliver effective, even innovative, software efficiently and rapidly. Development methodologies to consider such as: Agile development, DevOps, Rapid application development (RAD), Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). 

Technologies and practices including Open source, Cloud-based development, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, Low code, Analytics technologies, Mobile application technology may simply be a must. 

The pros and cons of developing custom software

The pros and cons of developing custom software

Pros

  • Solutions tailored to needs: Because every firm has a unique set of business processes, custom software is the greatest option for meeting their demands. It is made to satisfy the unique needs of a single person or a group of people. Additionally, it increases productivity because you acquire what you want and gain a competitive advantage.
  • Security: Every software and business must prioritize security since no one wants an app that can be easily compromised. The ability to implement as many security precautions as you desire with custom software helps lower security concerns. No off-the-shelf product requires you to rely on its limited security measures.
  • Simple integration: Custom software is made to be simple to integrate with your company’s current software and systems. You may design software with the aid of software professionals, making adoption simpler and boosting business efficiency.
  • Freedom of use and control: Custom software gives companies the freedom to use and update the program, giving them total control over the program. The customized software is your own, and you are free to upgrade or utilize it however you see fit.

Cons

  • High Cost of Development: While market forces drive down the price of off-the-shelf software solutions, the cost of building custom software is generally high for organizations. The price of custom software often includes the cost of maintenance and support. However, once deployed, the functionality of custom software seems to outweigh the expense of development.
  • Time-consuming to construct: The creation of a fully functional piece of custom software for a company requires a lot of time because business requirements aren’t always as obvious as one may expect. To be certain of every criterion and identify those that are not explicit or direct, a lot of effort is spent researching and evaluating.
  • Risk of dealing with a bad developer: Not just in the software development industry, but in most other sectors as well, there is a risk of working with a bad developer or company. Time and money might be lost by selecting the incorrect vendor. You can choose those who offer subpar or unprofessional software development services because there are a lot of bespoke software development companies available in the industry. Consequently, it is advised against hiring a developer in a hurry. To guard against losses in the future, spend more time researching.

Consider the above advantages and disadvantages before starting your bespoke software development journey to determine what your company needs.

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Custom software development process

There are many different software development models, and each one uses a particular strategy to guarantee the delivery of the finished product. There are some stages that every model includes, albeit the techniques may vary. The following essential actions can help software development organizations succeed: 

1. Collecting preliminary prerequisites

After understanding what is custom software development, consultation with a software development company for your project is the first stage. A development company meets with the client frequently throughout the first requirement gathering stage to collect all the project needs.

It is a stage in which designers and developers comprehend project requirements, software goals, software users, and client expectations for the functionality of the final product. The software development company uses all of that data to determine whether you could be a good fit for its project.

2. Planning and requirement analysis

The development company begins studying the requirements after gathering them in order to provide a solid foundation for the software program. The requirement analysis and planning stage is therefore the most important one in the entire development process. For the development organization to satisfy all client needs, extensive investigation must be performed. In this phase, customer goals are transformed into a plan to allow two visions to collide.

The client demands must be documented and independently validated by both parties before going on to the next phase. A Software Requirement Specification (SRS) document, on which the product is planned and developed, contains the client’s requirements. Planning requirements also make sure there are no misunderstandings.

3. Technical and visual design

The development company must decide how to construct what has to be built after they are aware of what needs to be built. Designing a system architecture is essential for every project because every software solution needs a unique strategy. In the SRS paper, the internal layout of every software module is described. The modularity of the design and risk assessment are parameters that are taken into account at this stage.

During this phase, the external design may also be created. Wireframes, technical architecture, database design, high fidelity screens, a wonder prototype, user stories, and database schema are among the deliverables for this stage.

4. Development & Implementation

Since the real product is still being produced, this step might take the longest. Beginning with the software requirements specification document, as well as the visual and technical design, developers begin to program the software. Coding can be carried out smoothly if the phases prior to the development stage have been finished in a meticulous manner.

Depending on the type of software development paradigm, every development team approaches the development activity from a different perspective. Currently, the majority of businesses use the Agile process, which involves iterative meetings known as daily Scrum meetings where each team member updates on the status and problems with their assigned work.

5. Testing

To identify and correct flaws and weaknesses, testing is typically performed after the product has been developed and is prepared for release. Testers conduct several kinds of functional and non-functional testing while conducting tests. The following important aspects are being tested during testing:

  • Basic application features.
  • Installation on regional computer systems.
  • Compatibility across several platforms.
  • Text entry

If a bug is found, it is corrected and tested once more. The testing procedure is carried out repeatedly until the software satisfies quality standards. Both the client’s team and the developer team must test the software.

The varieties of software testing methods that you ought to use to evaluate the caliber of your custom software are as follows:

  • Functional Evaluation: A form of testing called functional testing examines a software program’s capabilities. You must test each and every feature of the software when running functional tests. You must check to determine if you are attaining the desired results. Both manual and automated testing methods are available for functional tests.
  • Non-functional testing: Testing non-functional components of an application, such as dependability, usability, security, and performance, is known as non-functional testing. They are carried out following functional tests. You can greatly improve the quality of your program by using non-functional testing. 

6. Installation and Maintenance

A software application is released after it is tested thoroughly. But some people call the A software program is made available after extensive testing. However, after it is launched, some individuals declare the project to be “done.” You can experience a few unforeseen issues once you start using the software. Issues can either be resolved immediately or later depending on their priority.

You must choose between on-premises and cloud-based software deployment when it comes to the deployment of the software.

Software that is deployed on-premises is kept on a business’s own servers and secured by its own internal firewall. Up until recently, it was the sole means to integrate third-party software or applications with the codebase of the business. It is advantageous if your business needs total control over integrations with third-party features.

On the other hand, setting up a virtual computer environment is required for software deployment on the cloud. Organizations can access scalable and adaptable virtual computing resources thanks to cloud-based deployment. Cloud-based software deployment can be done via cloud platforms like AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, and others.

Because a development business continues to work on your product even after it has been released, maintenance is one of the benefits of custom software applications. The software development business oversees any upgrades and new functionality as part of the maintenance service.

Should companies develop custom software?

Customized solutions can therefore be more effective and adaptable to your demands if you comprehend what is custom software. In the long run, this will have a good impact on your company. Custom developed software is a long-term investment that almost always pays off in the end, despite the hefty upfront expenditures.

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