Technology 101 – What is bespoke software?
Bespoke software is specially developed to the requirements of a user or organisation, which differs from off-the-shelf (OTS) software that is produced for the mass market. It is designed hand-in-hand with the specifications, aims and needs of the organisation, with careful detail given to problem-solving, performance efficiency and future professional requirements.
How does it work?
Developed through collaboration with a customer, bespoke software is customised to suit particular needs and preferences. It is often created in a series of stages or phases, so that an initial working version, or “minimum viable product”, can be checked thoroughly by end users (known as user-acceptance-testing), and then the finer details (not necessarily taken into account in the initial design process) are adjusted and added before a final version goes into live usage.
Why might businesses need it?
Often mass market software does not perform enough of the functions businesses require in a single package. These can include the management of customers, inventory, HR and content.
For some businesses it may be better for existing legacy software to be adapted, with gaps filled and problems solved as necessary so that the off-the-shelf software functions far better than originally possible. For other companies replacing old software (or starting from scratch) with bespoke packages trumps concerns about the initial expense and time involved in attaining the technology that will meet their professional needs from the offset. Neither option needs to be overly painful for staff either, if handled sensitively and patiently, of course!
8 things to keep in mind when considering your business software needs:
It’s true, the cost of bespoke software and time commitment can seem sobering at first glance but consider these factors and compare with OTS products:
- Mass market software may require elaborate customisation to meet a business’s needs, which takes time and money to achieve, whereas bespoke solutions target specific problems.
- Bespoke software does not require the high upfront licensing costs of OTS products nor the ongoing costs of yearly (or more frequent) updates and expensive upgrades.
- Personalised software means happier employees and time used productively. No one has to struggle with outdated, ill-functioning programs to get simple tasks done; it’s designed to be intuitive.
- Businesses won’t need to waste any more energy and money battling software problems because with bespoke software comes bespoke IT help – no more call centres or confusing operating manuals.
- Because customised products make management processes simpler, you can process business quicker. OTS packages may require several programs to accomplish a single multi-step task, with more to go wrong along the way.
- Bespoke software adds value to a business and won’t be a drain on resources or require endless fire-fighting. It’s an investment that should grow and flourish with a business’s professional outlook.
- Going bespoke helps you to grow and develop your business as the software developers can look at new challenges and adapt their original concepts to keep up with a company’s changing needs and enhance its performance. Software needn’t be the key issue that holds you back.
Bespoke software now versus 10 years ago
Shops, schools and hospitals are just a few of the typical users that have taken advantage of bespoke software over the last decade. Shops have been one of the older types of business to use bespoke software to tackle billing and inventory records. Patient data can now be transferred through a network of hospitals, doctors and specialists and stored in a database, making private medical care more streamlined. Likewise, some schools in India and Sri Lanka have kept better records of their students’ academic progress and attendance through Sampoorna and The Akura School Management software respectively.
Today there are even more options when it comes to making software your own. Cloud computing and the emergence of the Third Platform all bringing software and hardware together. Mobile working and smart devices all mean that how we think about a businesses and where its basic functions take place are changing faster than they ever have before. A bespoke software company will take all this into consideration and provide the solutions to make these leaps possible.
What’s in store for the future?
Because bespoke software is made to measure for a business, in some respects the sky is the limit when it comes to its future. Where do you see your company going? Making your software match your goals is a way to get you there. It can provide a real competitive edge, eradicate long-standing problems or even make the merging of two businesses easier and stronger.
For more details on how bespoke software can increase businesses productivity, something we cover in “5 ways bespoke software can increase your business productivity”.
Since 1994 DCSL Software has developed hundreds of bespoke applications for businesses. For more than 20 years we have worked with everyone from universities to global furniture brands to local councils to provide solutions for a number of diverse challenges. Getting in touch is free and informal, so don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01252 235422 to discuss your business needs.