When is off-the-shelf software or a typical SaaS app going to do the trick and when do you need a custom online application? It might seem that there’s a simple answer—you only build what you can’t buy. But the reality is much more complex. In fact, even with a huge array of ready-made solutions, many businesses are still spending money regularly on custom development. In 2013 (according to a survey from Forrester), enterprise class organizations spent roughly the same amount on bespoke solutions as they did on packaged applications. Of course, having a big budget in the first place makes it easier to justify investing in a custom app. For small to mid-sized businesses, it can be a little more difficult to define when there’s a need that can be most effectively met by a tailor-made piece of software.
Here are five ways to know when a custom application can be a wise investment:
#1 You Only Need a Limited Scope to Accomplish Your Goal
Maybe you need a specific piece of “Best of Breed” functionality to make your business run better—but you don’t want to buy an entire suite of software from a major vendor just to get that one bit you need. The big names in the industry are well known for piling up the licensing and maintenance fees, locking in customers with long-term contracts, and forcing upgrades for their products. With a custom made product, you build only what is required to solve your actual business problem, your costs are limited, and you maintain control over the software.
#2 You Want Added Functionality for Competitive Advantage
At the other end of the scale, you might need an application with rich capabilities that simply aren’t provided by the SaaS vendors or traditional software suppliers serving your sector. Being the first in your industry to build a better application can put you ahead of the pack in productivity, innovation, and market share. These are especially exciting projects, and it makes sense to invest in a solution that your competitors can’t access.
#3 You Require Smarter BI for a Brighter Future
Business Intelligence is one of the most rapidly growing areas for custom development. Depending on your business model, you might be pulling data from a variety of sources from ERP to CRM, E-commerce, customer facing apps, and more. Being able to create a strong self-service dashboard and reporting system that compiles, displays, and interprets data from your unique data sources can be a powerful tool for predictive analytics. The more niche your industry is, the greater the chances that you’ll want a custom BI application.
#4 You Deserve Software That Truly Promotes Efficiency
Workflow automation is a prime example of when a custom online application can beat the socks off of an out-of-the-box application. The inner workings of your business will never map exactly onto a generic piece of software. Rather than adjusting your workflow to meet the capabilities of an application, it makes more sense to build an application that suits the way you do business.
#5 You Can Link the Custom App Directly to Revenue
Sometimes, the ROI on building a custom online application is obvious. If your existing software is causing you to miss out on opportunities, it makes a lot of sense to upgrade with a custom app that helps you capture more revenue. That could be one that adds functionality requested by customers, ensures repeat business, helps you cross-sell or upsell high dollar products/services, or attracts more of the ideal clients your company needs to be more profitable year over year.
Whether it’s an internal business application or a consumer-facing portal, a data-base driven app or a mobile solution, WebRevelation is ready to help grow your business with customized solutions. Learn how we can integrate with your legacy systems, build out new capabilities, and drive more value for your business. Contact us for a consultation today.