When you go into a tailor and ask for a suit, you have the option of an “off the rail” option (premade suit) or a “bespoke” made to fit suit that is cut to complement your body shape.
The off the rail suit is standard, has been made at a factory and will suit more body shapes. The tailored suit can cost many times the price but will be fitted to your body and needs. The same goes for software for a business, will a standard “off the shelf” package suffice, or do you need something customized to your organisation’s processes and customer demands?
Just as a tailor will ask you for your requirements. Do you prefer double breasted, 3 pockets, a waistcoat? Will you be outdoors more or do you need a thin lightweight suit for travelling? The needs of an individual are myriad for a simple item of apparel so imagine the intricacies of some business software. Software that is bespoke is referred to as custom software or tailored software.
In this article we will explore what makes bespoke software bespoke and what commercial advantages it has for an organisation.
A bespoke fit for your Organisation
So, such software is programmed according to your exact needs as a business and for serving your customers which what leading companies such as Nexsource.net specialize in. It may be off the shelf and just slightly tweaked and modified rather than built from scratch, but the mechanics remains the same. The programmers or software provider must find out your unique requirements and give you software that solves your problem to meet all your requirements. Often there is iteration and back and forth to test and get the software just right.
Ideally you don’t want to have to change your processes to suit the software, that’s why a customised software is better for your company in the long run or you will be shoehorning your work and structure into what the software can do not the other way around.
With bespoke you can dictate what the software can handle, process and report on. So that your users can make their work more efficient. They don’t need to change their way of working but the aim is to work more efficiently, for example, work with less headcount or produce reports for customers quicker than if using existing software or offline tools like spreadsheets.
Another big advantage is that the software can be modified and expanded in the future according to changes and expansion of your business. You will have the maintenance support and coders to do this, whereas commercial software won’t make a change to their mass software just for you as a single client. It wouldn’t be economic for them to do so.
Why Would You Choose Bespoke Software?
So, you can see why bespoke is a better solution if you have complexity in your business and money to finance design and building of the software.
What your organisation needs can be built and you can gain competitive advantage over companies that don’t have such software. It makes your business model harder to copy, gives your company technology IP that is worth something in any valuation and means you are not restricted by what the bog-standard commercial software can do, which can limit the scope and growth of your company.
Bespoke Versus Commercial Off the Shelf Software
With Off the Shelf or Commercial Software, it is designed by programmers in a lab or computer centre, they don’t have business knowledge or practical knowledge of how the software will be used. Many of the features will probably never by used by individual companies because it is a one size fits all solution. Productivity and innovation are limited by what the off the shelf software can do.
You and users end up compromising on what they do with processes and how creative or out of the box they can get with their work and ideas. With any pre-packaged software for example Adobe Editor, it is sold in retail and can be bought by anyone and is supposed to appeal to as many customers as possible.
So, it is general purpose and not considering any individual user needs. A lot of the functions are general and not applicable to most businesses or users and things that are required may not be an option or the user may be required to do twice or 3 times the steps to achieve the same result.
For example, in Adobe, in the standard software, if you wish to change the page layout of a document, instead of dragging and dropping the sections, you may need to make a page-break, save the document and then combine it with the old document.
That is 3 steps instead of a visual drag and drop that a customised software may be able to provide.
Hidden costs in Commercial Software
Full Feature set
This is often the frustration with such software because you cannot do things you want quickly or sometimes at all, and yet there are functions and tools there (that you have paid for) but are redundant.
Modifying an Off the Shelf Product.
Some companies having used a standard commercial package for a few years, may outgrow it and then see the need to modify it. To do that can often take up more money and resources than building something from scratch because the software architecture or possibility to integrate third party software with it may be difficult or require lots of coding.
Bespoke Becomes an Essential Part of a Scalable Business
Rather than see bespoke software as a luxury and consign it to the wish list. IT Directors and company owners have to make use of bespoke software in today’s world to keep pace with change. The landscape for any industry is constantly shifting and if your organisation stands still, it will lose out to competitors or new entrants to the market. They are using bespoke software to gain a competitive advantage. By not assigning budget to IT and IT development you may end up costing your business more in lost sales, poor customer retention or slow processes, allowing competitors to catch up and overtake you.
What Bespoke Software Offers End Consumers?
By having something bespoke and built by IT developers, you can match what your customers want from your product/service.
Say Customer Jake has an office in your area and wants same day delivery within the metropolitan area, by having a bespoke order and fulfilment system, you can allocate delivery slots and stock according to those urgent same day orders. If you had just standard logistics software, it would be first in first out, so the oldest order would be fulfilled first ignoring that stock may run out before you fulfil your order for Customer Jake or that Jake needs his order today before close of business.
This could gives your business a unique offering that competitors may not be able to easily copy and so you stand out, give your company some well-deserved PR for having local same day delivery and you can make more sales and conversions from customers like Jake who need such a service.
Additional Benefits of Bespoke Software
As your business changes, grows, or conversely even downsizes, software that is customizable can be changed to meet these changes in business and client’s demands and gives you a way to differentiate, streamline things and stay ahead of the game.
Overall, such customizable software offers flexibility to change with the times:
- Automation to increase efficiency
- Reduction in manual or human error
- High speed processing
- Built in and customizable checks and reporting
So, you have less costly human errors, the constant need for supervision or micro-management. Less stress in the company means better productivity at every level.
Putting things in the cloud generally means you can avoid limiting your data storage space which is often the case with physical/local storage. So, as users are added or office locations are added, the software can scale with that.
Data is one of the biggest things for companies now and as data is added it requires storage, but also access. With cloud, that storage is cheap, expandable and easy to search and retrieve. If you have other software, ERPs or say supplier applications that you need to integrate often a purpose built software that you have source code and modules for is much easier to modify than commercial software. So, when it comes to bespoke software, the way it integrates and talks to other software applications is also a big benefit.
Custom Needs – Custom Built
Getting an IT company or IT Department to develop some software for your business can give you much more scope and speed than a commercial licensed software. Throughout the programming, changes can be made, new requirements added or removed according to priority and the value it adds to the company. And even after launch changes can be made to improve upon it.
- Flexibility– The user interface or GUI can be designed with your individual users in mind too, with corporate colours, links to their inboxes or team collaboration tools. The flexibility to map out the whole infrastructure, go back and change, add to, remove and test the functionality gives your company the flexibility to design something that truly fits your user and customer needs.
- Agile–If the IT team are good, they can develop modules that work and can be tested first without relying on other parts to be crafted. This gives the agility to move fast and start using the software quickly instead of waiting months for completion and full deployment.
- Adaptability– We already talked about features to improve customer experience and service. Bespoke gives you the ability to adapt to your customer and make sure their needs are met. This give you more customer retention and loyalty, another thing competitors will be challenged with if they enter your market.
Conclusion, Go Bespoke and Work as Good as You Look
To be able to provide consumers a simple and technology driven experience is vital in today’s modern technological world. Giving them a seamless experience and things within easy access regardless of where they are, what device or medium they are using is crucial to winning a loyal and satisfied customer base.
For the productivity and motivation of staff, it is crucial to tear down bottlenecks and give them tools to improve their working environment. Old legacy software can cause slow output and challenges for employees, if they have come from a more technological company or even if they have some smart software and applications at home, coming into the office and facing old, unresponsive software won’t be good for morale or productivity.
Some companies will still stick to commercial off the shelf software, because in most cases it can be easily purchased and installed. But bespoke software gives you so much versatility and really fulfils what all the stakeholders of the business may need. That is the staff, the customers and even the shareholders who will see better profits. Having a “smart, technologically” lead strategy will allow you company to keep pace with changes and exploit opportunities in the market.
Our top tip to take away is caution around employing or finding an IT consultant to build software for you, they have no knowledge of your current processes and working methods. If the IT developer is internal they have some knowledge of the business, yes, but unless they have done the job of the user in customer services, logistics or sales, they will not understand the requirements well enough and why should they, they have been hired to look after IT issues.
External companies who offer their services as programmers or business analysts, may have some experience, but unless they have dealt with many bespoke projects before and understand how to gather requirements, adapt to changes in those requirements, because invariably there will be changes, then the project will fail.