How small businesses can compete using bespoke software
As a small business, it can be difficult to stand out in a competitive industry. But more and more small businesses are discovering how various bespoke software solutions can help them not only work more efficiently and be more profitable, but also reach more clients faster than ever.
In this blog post we’re taking a closer look at the competitive impact of having access to great, tailored business software at your fingertips.
The power of bespoke software
Here at DCSL, we’ve had the benefit and pleasure of helping businesses of all types and sizes to solve problems and become more successful with the help of software. There is really no limit to what software can do for an organisation, but most of the solutions we see typically fall into one of six broad categories:
1. Operations and Management
Business management software and ERP systems often hold the key to any organisation’s ability to grow successfully. Without a structured model for planning workflows and optimising resources, it can be very difficult to keep track of everything that goes on in the business on a daily basis. However, a powerful business management system will allow the leadership team to create and follow a structure for every department and ensure all areas of the business are performing well.
2. Retail and Commercial
Whether you are an online merchant or own a brick-and-mortar outlet, you will benefit hugely from the support of good software infrastructure. Payment systems, stock management, shipping, discounts, advertising and marketing – all these functions and more can be made highly efficient and profitable by using bespoke features. Most off-the-shelf retail systems are difficult to scale and will never fit your unique needs seamlessly, which is why many businesses now choose to have their own software custom built to work perfectly in line with their processes (gak).
3. Relationships and Communications
There are plenty of great ready-made CRM and marketing systems available, but they often come with a hefty price tag in the form of monthly or annual licence fees. The key benefit of bespoke CRM software is that is can allow you to individually shape all the functionality for email marketing, social media automation, publishing tools, user portals and more. This allows you to strip out any unnecessary functionality and instead add the specific features that you and your customers will value.
4. Intelligence and Analytics
As businesses, we often generate a large amount of data that never actually gets used for evaluation or forecasting. A bespoke software system can allow the organisation to capture, analyse and report on any type or combination of information. With the help of highly specific user data, statistics and performance measurements, you can create reports that support smart decision making and strategy development.
5. Internet of Things
One area of fast growth at the moment is the Internet of Things (IoT), which is the concept of using wireless communications to collect and send data from and to devices anywhere. By using bespoke software, a business can create very specific mechanisms for communicating with machines like manufacturing tools, robots, surveillance equipment, thermostats – even vehicles. This opens up a whole new world of smart operations, where software allows machines to operate “intelligently” based on a number of patterns or criteria. Internet of Things can make a huge difference to the bottom line when used to optimise resources and make the most of hardware investments.
6. Mobile apps
For many organisations a mobile app is just as useful as a desktop one, if not more. Most of us tend to carry out work and communications while we are on the move, and we often want to have the ability to access the same systems wherever we are. Field workers often rely on mobile apps to complete tasks, log their work and report issues, but there are no out-of-the box mobile app solutions that can be customised enough to suit every organisation. Creating a bespoke mobile app is by far the best way to create a tool that gets the job done and that users love.
The economy of bespoke software
A monthly software licence fee for a ready-made, off-the-shelf solution may seem attractive for a cash-strapped business. However, using a general software solution means you can’t have the technology designed around your processes. Instead you need to adapt your processes to the software, which can also cost money to do.
For many businesses, the initial investment in a bespoke software solution offers better value in the long term, thanks to the ability to scale and tailor the system whenever you want. (Also, you never risk getting unexpected end-of-life announcements!)