Why customized software gives a competitive business edge

Custom Software Development Can Give Businesses the Competitive Edge

When a business organization needs a new system, they have several options. They can:

– Buy a COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) product, e.g., SAP
– Subscribe to a Software-as-a-Service, e.g., SalesForce.com.
– Buy a COTS product and then customize the source code, e.g., Oracle Retail.
– Write custom software from scratch.

This decision depends on a lot of factors and parameters that are unique to the company (its short/long-term goals, specific industry requirements, resource availability, etc.). An option that is best for one business may not work for another.

However, if they do opt for customized software development (either option #3 or #4), there is no better time than now. Here are some reasons why:

Trends in Software Development Solutions

Custom software development and project management has improved so much over the past 10 to 15 years that projects today are low risk for the enterprise. They deliver results earlier in the project lifecycle by working on smaller sets of functions. The project focuses on the key components needed to deliver a working system. These shorter life-cycles allow for changes during the project. That was not easily done before with rigid, older project management frameworks.

The flexibility for custom software development lets the enterprise bring new products to market faster than competitors who are using COTS or SaaS systems. This is important when the organization introduces new lines of business or takes over another company.

Software development is made easier today and faster with new programming languages and frameworks like Angular. The most important new concept is the rapid expansion of cloud-based APIs from third-party companies. An application can tap into logistics, payment processing, security, analytics, and other functions quickly without having to program any of them from scratch.

Deploying and hosting custom software applications are made easier and less expensive by the cloud. Cloud systems are arguably more secure and reliable than those hosted in-house. Security breaches that could damage the company brand and lead to litigation and civil fines (for example, HIPAA violations) may be reduced.

Instead of undertaking a large-scope, big-budget ERP project, organizations today can build a much smaller system that focuses just on what it needs.

There are many new ways to put the company’s systems into the hands of customers to increase customer involvement and boost sales. This includes offering the service as an API over the web, writing mobile apps, and engaging with the Internet of Things.

Software Development Strategies
Fifteen years ago, the business landscape was littered with IT projects that ran late, over-budget, and failed to meet expectations. CIOs, project managers, and IT architects realized that the existing waterfall approach to project management was not working.

Newer, faster and leaner approaches to software development, like Agile, were introduced. These reduce risk, cost less, and cut the time needed to deliver a working application. This works by focusing only on the key functions needed by the application, dividing that up into small chunks, and delivering new code into the pipeline every couple of weeks.

The focus in IT today is to determine on a cost-benefit basis what features to build into the system. Here, “cost” is measured in resources, not dollars. Tasks that cannot be delivered in a few weeks are divided into smaller chunks or put into the queue to be considered later. Often, items in the “later” queue are set aside permanently as management and the developers realize they are not even necessary. It is a way to focus on what is important and implement those first.

The API Economy – Customized Software Development
Another huge development in IT is the adoption of what is known as the API (application program interface) economy. This means building systems from a collection of tools developed by other companies. The logic behind this approach is a company that focuses on one function can deliver that function cheaper and faster than anyone else. It is, by definition, best-in-breed.

API in this case does not mean a Java class but a business function delivered on a cloud platform such as a web service. Some examples of these are:

– Duo Security for login authentication
– PayPal for Direct Payment
– FedEx and UPS for Logistics
– Amazon S3 for Storage
– Third-party analytics engines
– Zendesk for Support

Such a modular design also lets the business swap out one API for another as business needs change.

ERP: One Size Does Not Fit All – Software Development Solutions
The million-dollar SAP, Siebel, or Oracle ERP system is no longer the best option for all situations. Certain subsets of those complex systems perfectly meet the requirements of accounting, human resources, and customer relations but they cannot be easily customized to target, penetrate and fulfill a specific customer demand. While it is true that a company can use ABAP and configuration changes to customize SAP, those changes require expensive consultants and can only change the periphery of the application. It does not provide a platform upon which to build a completely new apparatus.

The Future of Customized Software Development
Today, the business landscape is shifting so fast that 100-year-old companies that people thought would last forever are shutting down as faster, more nimble organizations overtake them. Companies like Amazon.com have shown that technology is the key to market share and containing costs.

There is some irony in this as Amazon and other companies such as Netflix and PayPal have chosen to share the software code that they use to run their own systems. This open-source approach benefits everyone. For example, if a new application requires payment processing and video streaming, the new system could be built using those platforms as part of the overall solution. Other open-source tools are also available to speed up development and make projects less complicated.

New software development methodologies and the API economy have made it easier than ever to gain an edge over the competitors by delivering new ideas and products to market faster than more rigid organizations. The proliferation of smartphones, tablets, and the Internet of Things has provided new ways to engage the customers. With the right technology, businesses can write custom programs to expand their market share, boost revenue, and improve customer relations. It’s the profitable decision to make.

Do you need a solution?

BrieBug Solutions a Denver based website and mobile application development agency that specializes in Angular and Full Stack development. If this is a technology that you would be interested in to boost your business, feel free to contact us so we can get you started on your vision!

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