What is Custom Software?

At Bitbean, helping businesses succeed is our goal, and one way we do that is through education. Companies come to us looking for custom software, definitions of bespoke software terms, and examples of how businesses are using software to grow. They also want to know more about what determines custom software development costs. Learn about the ins and outs of custom software so you can make a smarter decision about your next software purchase.

Custom Software: A Definition

The simplest custom software definition we can offer is this: it is any application or platform that is developed specifically to overcome a particular challenge in your organization.

Custom software may share some features or functionality with commercial off the shelf software (known as COTS), but because it was designed just for your business, it will do exactly what you need it to do. It will be perfectly aligned with the look and feel of your brand and integrate seamlessly with your business processes.

Do you need to make your internal processes more efficient? Take payments or process transactions more quickly? Merge several systems into one easy-to-use platform? Manage large amounts of data? Automate your customer relationship management? Whatever features and functions you require can be built into your software when you’re working with the software developers and UX designers at Bitbean.

But maybe you’re still considering a COTS solution after reading our custom software definition. Simple ready-made mass market software like Microsoft Office does have its place in the business environment, but when you need an application or platform that can handle huge data sets or a large user base; you have business processes in place that cannot be changed; your company has to comply with specific federal, state, or local regulations; or your needs are otherwise complicated, custom software development is always the better option.

The Advantages of Custom Software

The benefits of bespoke software go beyond personalization.

  • Bespoke software only includes the features and functions you require to meet your business goals, making it more user-friendly.
  • You won’t have to pay for frequent upgrades that don’t add anything you can actually use to the platform.
  • When your software is built for your business, you won’t have to spend additional time or money on complicated configuration.
  • Custom software works with your business processes and existing systems.
  • You won’t need to pay to retrain staff to use your new software.
  • Bespoke software can meet almost any business challenge, no matter how large or complex.
  • Software developed for your business will be much more scalable, so it will grow along with your business.
  • Custom software tends to have a longer lifespan than COTS and won’t require frequent updates.
  • It is more secure than ready-made software because the necessary security measures are built in.
  • Your software can be a bridge between other systems you’re using, automating some processes and making others more efficient.
  • Bespoke software can be more cost-effective than COTS when you consider the long-term costs of ready-made applications.

Some Common Types of Custom Software

If you’re ready to dig deeper into the custom software definition we gave above, take a look at some of the most common types of applications and platforms developed for business users who have outgrown one-size-fits-all software.

1. CRM Systems

There are plenty of ready-made customer relationship management platforms, but in almost all cases they won’t have been designed for your specific industry or your customers. A custom CRM can improve the customer experience, resulting in more sales and a much higher return on investment than a commercial CRM.

2. CMS Systems

When you need software to quickly and efficiently manage the content on your website, a custom CMS can be optimized for the types of content you share most often, the way you prefer to display it, and for SEO.

3. Ecommerce Systems

Your customers want a seamless online shopping experience, but the processes that make buying online possible are complex. A custom ecommerce system can automate inventory management, accounting, digital and social marketing, tax calculation, shipping, and customer service regardless of how many transactions are processed each day.

4. SCM Systems

Supply chain management systems are vital for manufacturing companies because resource and raw material use is a key factor in profitability. A custom SCM system will build a bridge between the sourcing, production, and shipping data specific to your industry — without bloat or unexpected integration issues — so you can automate more processes.

5. ERP Systems

Off the shelf enterprise resource planning software typically requires a lot of configuration to be able to integrate the various systems that different departments at your company are using — and the end result may be far from perfect. A custom ERP system, on the other hand, can be designed to work with all of your existing processes.

Here are some examples of tailor-made software along with explanations of what makes them better than the COTS alternatives.

Determining How Much Custom Software Development Costs

When people come to us looking for a simple custom software definition, they invariably ask about the price tag. Custom software development costs can vary widely by project, and many companies find that a little frightening. Bespoke software is worth the investment, however, when you need unique features or to differentiate your business from the competition. Remember, custom software is defined by the fact that it is created to meet your exact needs. Everything from your desired user experience to the exact functionality you require will be built into your software.

In other words, there’s no knowing how much your custom software development project will cost until you’ve discussed it with our team. The size, complexity, number of features, and your data migration needs will all play a role in your quoted price.

A side-by-side price comparison with COTS software is impossible because chances are that no single off-the-shelf application will be able to do exactly what you need it to do, look the way you need it to look, integrate seamlessly with your current processes, and give your customers the experience you want them to have. Even though custom software looks more expensive at first glance, it can actually be the more cost-effective option when you consider the ongoing costs of licenses or subscriptions, configuration, upgrades, and training.