Whether your business is predominantly ecommerce, or one that operates out of a storefront, having software that helps your business run as effectively and efficiently as possible is important. While there are many great off-the-shelf programs available (some of which you may already be using), there are certainly areas where those programs may fall short.
That being said, if you’re finding that the software you’re currently using is holding you back, you might consider building custom software. Custom software can either work with your existing off-the-shelf software to fill in the gaps. Or, if that’s not enough, you can build an entirely new custom software or web system to meet your unique business needs.
Depending on what you’re looking to improve, building custom software may be the next best step. Not sure if it’s the right step for you? Consider these 6 areas where custom-tailored software can be a big win and, more specifically, how it could be a big win for you.
1. Everything can be in one place.
If you’re not using custom software, you’re probably solely using off-the-shelf software. Because most off-the-shelf software is designed to perform only one task (e.g. QuickBooks for accounting), many businesses find themselves using multiple off-the-shelf programs to get the job done.
The greatest downside to this, however, is that your employees can lose time jumping from one program to another. But with the help of custom software, you can build a custom CMS (content management system) or CRM (customer relationship management) that allows you to house all of the off-the-shelf programs you use in one place.
With a custom CRM, for example, you could integrate your existing invoice management software and e-mail software into one system. Instead of bouncing from one program to another, this CRM would allow your employees to find an invoice and send it in an email all in one place, saving time and boosting efficiency.
2. You can do more with less.
In addition to completing tasks within a single system, you can further boost efficiency by building custom software that automates repetitive tasks for you. Business process automation is especially useful if your business has reached maximum efficiency given the human capital you have available.
Take employee onboarding, for instance. Maybe you already have a streamlined onboarding routine, but you’d really like to spend less employee time on training your new employees. That being said, you could build a custom software system designed to walk your new employee through filling out the necessary paperwork to completing training modules.
Whether this system is comprised of your existing software or entirely custom to you, it can be tailored to your specific business needs. For example, you could offer an onboarding experience unique to your business, while giving your other employees more time to work on other tasks. This can help to maximize the money you spend on employee time and boost your overall bottom line.
3. It can grow and change with you.
Most successful businesses must undergo changes in order to continue growing and turning a profit. Unfortunately, if you’re purely using off-the-shelf software, it may not necessarily have the capacity to adapt to all of the future changes and growth you’re anticipating. Instead, you may benefit from supplementing it with custom software or switching over to custom software altogether.
For example, a website builder, like SquareSpace, may offer your business the initial features you need, from giving you the ability to create a blog to build an online store. However, if your business grows to the point of needing support for a substantial amount of content, from a surplus of blogs to products, a website builder may no longer be enough.
Sticking with the website example, if you’re already using a website builder and are finding that your needs are outgrowing what it has to offer, it may be time for an upgrade. Likewise, even if you haven’t fully outgrown that site but are anticipating significant growth, a custom CMS can offer the scalability and flexibility required to meet your needs in the years to come.
Important note: In many cases, you can continue to use your off-the-shelf software in conjunction with custom software. With a custom CMS, for example, you can continue to use off-the-shelf software integrations, like MailChimp or PayPal. This can save you money, as well as time, by allowing you to continue using some of your existing practices.
4. You can gain an edge over the competition.
If you’re using pre-packaged software, there’s a chance that your competitors are using it too. In some cases, that’s okay, but say you’re running an ecommerce site, and you’re offering an almost identical user experience as your competitors. This can make it difficult to outdo your competition. In such instances, it may be necessary to upgrade your customers’ user experience by upgrading your software.
Continuing with the last example, let’s suppose that you and your competitors are using SquareSpace sites to sell your products. While your site may aesthetically pleasing and even offer a user-friendly experience, the look and feel of the site may be almost identical to your competitors’. However, if you build a custom Drupal ecommerce site, you can build a customized user experience around your customers’ specific needs.
By offering this custom user experience, you can set yourself apart from the competition. The same concept applies to providing a better customer experience via other software, such as improved business process automation software. Improved business process automation may speed up your shipping time and, thereby, improve customer satisfaction as well.
5. You can receive an ROI.
To continue growing, every business must invest, which always involves some level of risk. To ensure your investments are worthwhile, you likely evaluate where your money is going and if there are any returns. For many businesses, investing in custom software offers a return on their investment, and it could offer you a return as well.
Here’s the thing: To build custom software, you must a hire a custom software development team. While the cost of hiring a team can be a hefty investment, that investment has the potential to pay for itself and then some in the long run. Why? Because custom software can save you time, and time is money.
Whether it’s helping your business to automate a process or gain an edge over your competition, you’ll need to weigh the potential benefits against the potential cost of custom software. To find out if building custom software provides a return for your business, download this ROI calculator.
6. It can be tailor-made to you.
Last but not least, the greatest win for custom software is that, as the word ‘custom’ denotes, you can have it built however you please. This can be especially valuable if what your business has to offer, and its practices, are very unique. If the software you’re using today doesn’t quite fit the bill, it may be time to build software that’s perfectly designed for you.
How Can You Get Started?
Even if custom software sounds like it might be a good fit for your business, it can be difficult to know where to start. As custom software developers, we’ve found that there are several important questions that one should ask him or herself when starting their journey to going custom.
To get your hands on the right questions, download our eBook.
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ClikFocus has been building custom software for over a decade. From websites and mobile apps to business process software, we’ve developed custom software for nonprofits to ecommerce enterprises alike, and we'd love to help with your project as well.