Businesses run on software. Your employees probably use software every day, from simple applications like browsers and word processors to more complex applications like point of sale software and relationship management platforms. Sometimes commercial off the shelf software (COTS) solutions are sufficient to meet a company’s needs — especially when those needs are simple. But as your business grows and your business processes become more complicated, you may discover that the mass market software packages you’ve invested in can no longer get the job done. In this post, we highlight 7 custom software examples that will show you why you should consider making the leap from COTS to custom.
What’s Wrong with Commercial Off the Shelf Software?
The quick answer is nothing at all. Surprised? Mass market software has its role in the business environment — especially for companies that are just starting out or only have a few employees. When you compare it to the custom software examples we share below, however, it’s clear that there are obvious drawbacks to using COTS when your business is growing.
The first is that ready-made software is usually designed to do a lot of different things and that can mean you’re paying for functionality you don’t need. Second, commercial software wasn’t designed with your unique needs in mind, so it probably won’t meet all the challenges you need it to address. Third, COTS can be hard for your employees to use because it wasn’t designed with your company’s processes in mind. And finally, a lot of mass market software requires a great deal of configuration to make it useful.
Why Custom Software Is Worth the Investment
When you’ve outgrown your commercial software, custom software allows you to overcome challenges unique to your organization without compromising when it comes to functionality or the user experience. When you look at the custom software examples below, you’ll see applications that were specifically developed to overcome one or more particular challenges in a specific business environment.
With custom designed software, you can merge systems, optimize your internal processes, make the customer experience better, process more transactions, manage your clients, or do just about anything else. Your exact needs drive the development of your software, and you won’t have to compromise when it comes to what your software can do.
Other benefits you’ll see in the custom software examples below include the fact that custom software doesn’t include functionality you don’t want or need so you’re not paying for features, upgrades, or content that’s not relevant to your business. You won’t have to adjust your internal processes to adapt to the software because it will be designed with your company’s flow in mind. Custom software is often more scalable than COTS, especially over the long term, and can be integrated with systems you’re already using.
Now let’s take a look at some custom software examples that illustrate how these tailor-made packages do more than their ready-made counterparts.
Custom Software Example 1: A Web Portal for an Education Nonprofit
A nonprofit organization that supports education professionals by providing them with food and other household necessities through partnerships with manufacturers and distributors needed secure back end infrastructure that included a client-facing display. It needed to both streamline and optimize order processing and have an intuitive UI that anyone could use.
Doing everything with ready-made software would have required multiple COTS platforms, and these more than likely would not have addressed the exact usability and security issues the client wanted to address with the redevelopment of their portal. We were able to design a complex platform with an intuitive and aesthetically-pleasing UI that did exactly what they needed it to do.
Custom Software Example 2: CRM Development for a Mortgage Broker
A large real estate mortgage broker needed a CRM, CMS, deal flow management, and thorough reporting throughout the system. While there are numerous ready-made CRM suites available, none of these would have been able to meet the full scope of the client’s requirements.
They opted to have a web-based platform designed from the ground up that could manage all aspects of their business and then transitioned it into a custom mobile app. Both the web platform and the app we developed have the core functionality they outlined in their requirements along with the ability to run reports from all possible angles and to track different data from different perspectives.
Custom Software Example 3: Web Development for an Education Nonprofit
A nonprofit organization with centers in over 500 schools across the U.S. and internationally that provide Jewish-related services to students on the campuses needed a software solution that could consolidate multiple databases and update various legacy systems. Trying to configure COTS solutions would have been time-consuming and expensive — assuming it was even possible.
The solution they opted for involved re-imagining all the clients’ technical needs. Ultimately, after working closely with the client to understand their goals, we developed three web portals for different audiences, consolidated their databases, and overhauled the organization’s legacy systems for security and ease of use.
Custom Software Example 4: A Web Portal for a Medicaid Services Company
This client needed a simpler way to manage the thousands of payments, deposits, and fees they had to process each week. Off the shelf accounting software was no longer sufficient to handle the large number of transactions happening each day and the compliance concerns inherent in any Medicaid system. They also wanted to simplify the UX.
We designed a custom portal that condenses several hours of work into a few minutes by automating core processes and alerts the company when something isn’t right. The system itself was designed to be extremely user-friendly so that even less tech-savvy users could use it without difficulty.
Custom Software Example 5: Web and Mobile App Development for a Torah Resource Platform
A client that provides an educational video platform, on which different sermons and lectures from all over the world are accessible from anywhere, needed its website and cross-platform mobile app rebuilt from the ground up. The vast amount of content uploaded to the platform each week plus the need for features like payment processing and timeline tagging made finding a COTS solution tricky.
Instead, we completely redeveloped the platform to meet the company’s exact specifications and integrated a content delivery network for video streaming. The end result was a scalable site built to work in tandem with the mobile app that’s currently in development.
Custom Software Example 6: Mobile App Development for Real Estate
An owner/operator of multi-family residential and commercial property throughout the Tri-State area needed an iOS and Android app to mimic the functionalities of an existing employee-facing web portal. The goal was to give employees access to the same tools and resources they had at their desks no matter where they were — and that meant working closely with existing systems, not just starting from scratch with something new.
We developed a custom mobile app designed to boost productivity and improve existing processes. While the app integrates all the features of the desktop application employees were using previously, it also added features that cut down on paperwork, made information easier to store and find, and gave employees more mobility.
Custom Software Example 7: An E-Commerce Software Platform for a Gift Card Marketplace
A company that gives people a place to sell their unwanted gift cards from major retailers was growing quickly, but the limited open-source shopping cart platform they were using wasn’t optimized for their business model, couldn’t scale efficiently, and didn’t meet all of their users’ needs. On top of that, they needed any software they were using to be able to work in tandem with their partner retailers’ systems.
We built a custom enterprise e-commerce platform that was designed specifically for the company’s innovative business model and would meet the requirements of their retail partners. It is also user-friendly and allows customers to buy, sell, or even trade gift cards with ease. Most importantly, the platform is extremely scalable, so the client will be able to use it well into the future.
Myths About Custom Software
The custom software examples above clearly show that custom software can do more than COTS, but a lot of businesses are hesitant to invest in bespoke software out of fear. The majority of their fears are unfounded, however. Take a look at a few of the pervasive myths that scare people away from custom software development.
Custom Software Development Is Too Expensive
A price tag to price tag comparison of custom software versus ready-made software can make the latter look like the better option, but the fact is that custom software can sometimes be the more cost-effective solution when you factor in the costs associated with licenses, subscriptions, upgrades, IT consultants, and configuration. Custom software is also a long-term solution. Because it does exactly what you need it to do, you can use it for a long time without making major changes.
Custom Software Development Takes Forever
Great development does indeed take time, but what’s more surprising is that implementing an off-the-shelf solution can take almost as long because very little complex software works perfectly right out of the box — or is as intuitive as salespeople would have you believe. The difference is that the time you invest in custom software development gets you a solution designed to meet all of your needs.
Finding a Custom Software Developer Is Impossible
Contrary to popular belief, it’s entirely possible to find a custom software developer that cares about your project and your business as much as you do. While there are some bad apples in every industry, there are also companies like ours. When we work with clients, we don’t just look at their initial requirements. We take a deep dive into their current systems, processes, objectives, and goals to figure out the unique software solutions that will rocket them forward.
Is custom software necessary for every application? Not at all, and we never sell clients on features and functionality they don’t actually need. If custom software isn’t right for your project, we’ll let you know. That said, if you’re at a fast-growing company that wants to differentiate itself from the competition and work smarter, not harder, a custom platform or mobile app might just be exactly what you need to meet your short- and long-term business goals faster.
Are you ready to invest in custom software? Contact Bitbean for a free consultation. We are always totally transparent about what the road from idea to implementation will look like, so you can plan for the future.