While off-the-shelf software may be enough for a business just starting out, once you outgrow its offerings, there’s little room for customization, future growth, or improvement from there. Very often, this lack of flexibility creates an opportunity cost that grows as your organization does.
That’s when you might consider custom software, which offers limitless opportunities in terms of scalability, flexibility, and customization. However, to build custom software, you’ll need a software development team and a reasonably large budget.
This begs the question: When should your business make the switch?
If you think you’ve outgrown your off-the-shelf software, or are simply considering acquiring that custom software you’ve dreamed about, ask yourself these 4 questions to determine if it’s time to make that change.
1. What opportunity costs are associated with your existing software?
While custom software comes at an expense, out-of-the-box software can come along with its own set of opportunity costs. As such, in many cases, the price tag associated with custom software may be worth the time you save.
Let’s consider business process software, for example.
If you have a small business, out-of-the-box software may not significantly impact your employees’ workflow. In this way, the cost of building custom business process software may not save your employees enough time to justify the cost of going custom.
Alternatively, if your business is larger, multiple out-of-the-box software programs may be required for your employees to track, carry out, and complete tasks. This can potentially slow down their workflow and decrease your business’s overall efficiency.
For such a business, going custom could expedite your employees’ processes. Plus, the time saved could make up for the cost of building the custom software, and maybe even provide a return on your investment.
2. How will your current software support projected growth?
One potential limitation that cookie-cutter software may present is an inability to grow with your business. However, if you’re currently using cookie-cutter software, and it seems to be effectively meeting your current business needs, you may not need more than that.
Conversely, if your business is reasonably large, or expecting to grow in the near future, you may need software with the capacity to sustain that growth. For growing businesses, custom software can provide scalability, or the ability to expand as your business does.
With this in mind, even if you build custom software that merely meets your business needs of today, it will still have the scalability to expand as your needs change tomorrow.
3. How will your existing software change as your business does?
With time, your business is likely to see change. When it comes to software, you’ll need to identify how often, and how quickly, your business changes and if your software is managing to keep up.
For a small businesses, your software may not be as significantly impacted by change. Even when employees change, trends change, and more, minor tweaks may be enough for your mass-produced software to continue working sufficiently.
But for a business of a larger scale, a more powerful system may be required to address staff challenges and customer needs to maintain that edge over your competitors.
In the latter scenarios, mass-produced software may present too many limitations to adequately meet your needs. However, custom software can offer the flexibility required to adapt right along with you.
4. How does your current software support your unique business needs?
The final deciding factor in choosing whether to go custom is how well off-the-shelf software is able to meet your business needs. If your off-the-shelf software is getting the job done, there’s no need to pour thousands of dollars into custom software development.
However, if your business has already spent time and money trying, and tweaking, a variety of off-the-shelf programs, it may be time to make the change. Another tell-tale sign that it’s time for change if you're constantly manipulating your practices to fit your software.
If those situations sound familiar, or you simply have very unique business needs, it may be a good idea to finally acquire software built to meet the needs of your business and your business alone. Instead of accommodating your software, it will finally accommodate you.
Looking for a team who can help?
To acquire your very own custom software, you’re going to need a software development team. Not only should this team be skilled in building custom projects, but also invested in helping you to achieve your business goals.
At ClikFocus, we don’t just build software: We partner with businesses like yours to see your vision come to fruition. Whether you hope to streamline your practices or build a site with a stronger CMS, we’ve got your back.