What is custom software development?
Custom software development refers to the designing of software applications for a specific user or group of users within an organization. A software developer comes up with bespoke software solution mainly to address these users’ requirements better than more traditional and widely available off-the-shelf software can.
custom software is usually crafted just for the specific users by an in-house group or a third-party developer and is not meant for resale.
Custom software vs. of-the-shelf Software
Off-the-shelf software consists a packaged software application meant for use by a large audience with a wide but similar needs. For instance, Microsoft Office is crafted for the general public as a solution to the different needs of its users. It doesn’t address specific needs of a particular group of people the way a custom software would.
Customized software development involves the commissioning, development and release of a software product aimed to a single entity.
If you have an idea for a new software solution, then you require a development company to make your dream come true. Naturally, the scope of pre-development activities may be overwhelming especially if you are a newbie.
Anyone planning to come up with a software must weigh between coming up with a custom solution, or an off-the-shelf software. In case you target developing a solution for the market and yet benefit from it, then the only option you have is to build a custom software. An off-the-shelf software is suitable when you need corporate solution.
Reasons for opting for an Off-the-shelf Solution
- It takes less time than a custom software. Sometimes, you may not have a lot of time on your hands, and thus need a solution as soon as possible.
- Implementation up-front costs are lower compared to custom software. In case yours is a small business, this can be a considerable factor.
- Your requirements are average. In case your business requirements don’t entail a unique or specific solution and is considered regular, choosing an off-the-shelf solution will be cost-efficient for you.
An off-the-shelf solution is the best option for small businesses that need low-cost software.
However, there are some glaring demerits that you need to consider. These include:
- Scalability. Scalability doesn’t apply to every off-the –shelf solution. This means that you may not be able to use them years after installing them, hence the need to adopt other solutions in future.
- Upgrades. In case you want to work with cutting-edge technologies, you won’t get the opportunity from off-the-shelf solutions. You will require the provider to implement changes, and the changes may not match your needs.
- Unnecessary bloat. Off-the-shelf solution may have unnecessary features that you still have to pay for. These features might even decrease the scope of the productivity of your employees.
If you find these disadvantages overwhelming, then a custom solution is your best choice. A custom software targets every one of your needs, ensuring no unnecessary features, scalability problems and ensures prompt upgrades. A custom solution easily integrates with your other software and thus gives you a competitive advantage.
Once you have established that a custom software development is what you need, then follow the following steps to come up with one.
1. Initial Requirement Gathering
This is the first stage whereby you ask a custom software development company for a consultation. In this stage, a number of meetings are held for the development company to come up with all of your requirements. This is a forum for the experts to learn what are your specifications, what particular goals you aim to achieve with the software, who will be using it and why, and how you intend the product to work. This brings some cohesion between you and your development company.
Read the Blog: 4 Major Challenges that Software Developers Face
Once they have found your goals and expectations, the software development company can pick the most efficient approach that ensures that the project is carried out successfully and with minimum risks.
2. Requirement Analysis and Planning
Once all the requirements have been gathered, the development company can embark on sorting them so as to come up with a solid foundation for the solution. This makes the second step the most paramount phase of the whole process. A thorough analysis is needed so as to enable the development company address all your needs. The software developer team applies your goals into their plan thus creating a confluence of the two visions.
It is important to have documentation and approval of your demand s by both sides before moving on to the next phase. To achieve this, you need a Software Requirement Specification (SRS) document, on which the final solution development will be based. This helps to mitigate any future misunderstandings between you and the software development company.
3. Technical Design
After the development company learns what they are supposed to craft, they also need to decide how to do it. Usually, every software development needs a unique approach, therefore, the third stage is dedicated to designing the architecture of your system. The development company pegs the internal design of all the modules of the production on the SRS document. Some of the most important aspects that are taken into consideration are budget and time constraints, design modularity and risk assessment since the developers want to have a guarantee that your solution is robust.
At this phase, the company can also create the external design as well. With respect to the complexity of your needs, it may be easier for your company to know how the solution will work in case the development company provides you with mock-up interfaces and screens. This kind of basic demonstration will explain how the user will interact with the software in the final solution.
4. Development and implementation
This stage is usually the longest one because it involves building of the actual product. The developers start coding your bespoke software by carefully following the Software Requirement Specification, alongside the internal design instructions. In case the previous stages have been followed with close adherence to details, you should accomplish coding without any further complications.
With respect to the software development model, each development teams approach this stage from a different angle. Most software development companies follow the Agile methodology, which implies that they hold short, iterative meetings referred to as Scrum meetings, during which every member of the team reports any arising issues and progress on their tasks. This method enhances their workflow and productivity.
5. Testing of the Solution
Once the software is developed but before it is prime for release, it has to be tested for any shortcomings and defects. At this time, dedicated software developer team carryout various types of functional and non-functional testing. This is either achieved automatically or manually. The most important features that require to be checked include the core application functions, text input, installation on localized machines, as well as aspects that are not linked to any particular function such as security and scalability. In case any shortcoming or a bug is detected, it is fixed and re-tested. This process goes on until the quality of your solution matches the original requirements.
It is recommended that you and your team test the software too. To achieve this, the software development company provides you with a beta test environment to ensure that you understand the software and that you are comfortable with the way it works. The company then waits for your feedback ready to work on any arising issues that you might report.
6. Development and Maintenance
Once you have successfully tested the solution, your software is now ready to be released. However, you would be wrong to assume the project is through. At this time, you and your actual users should get familiar with the system. This is because once you start using the software, there is a likelihood of many problems appearing. With respect to level of priority, these issues may be fixed forthwith or gathered together to be fixed later.
Maintenance provides a great advantage to custom software solutions since the development company will not only take care of your system during the development process, but also after the release. This ensure that your product works seamlessly according to the original requirements.
At this point, it is now clear why the cost and the wait time of custom software development may vary from the ones of the off-the-shelf solutions. There are advantages when you hire software developers to come up with a custom software solution. The development company has to carefully design and develop, both internally and externally, a system that meets all of your requirements. In addition, the company makes sure it is flawless by running a series of tests as well as take care of it after the software is released
Custom software development lets you use technology to solve specific problems for your business. When you have established that custom software solutions are right for you and how to implement them, you can support success and growth of your business.