Buying out-of-the-box tools has risks involved that can become huge issues down the road which can be easily avoided by choosing custom software solutions. In this article, our PM Lucas Napoli exposes the 11 core pillars for custom software development success.
In the search for technologies that will solve problems or provide new features with added value to the business, the offer to buy products to cover those needs is an attractive option. However, there are some caveats to pay attention to when buying an already made product:
- Your business may not fit entirely into the product’s target. Many times, this ends up changing workflows or processes from your company.
- Training your internal IT staff may be required to maintain, monitor, and troubleshoot your new tool.
- Support response time can be slow, so incidents that would possibly block your business and down times need to be considered.
- Different license programs are offered and normally as a yearly based fee.
- Updates and upgrades may need license changes.
- The tool is not owned by your company, so any changes in the product’s company may affect you, like cases where the product is retired from the market.
- Data ownership and security can be compromised if you share sensitive information with a third party.
- There is poor documentation on how to use your tool. Often, documentation is only focused on the interface with the product and not how it works internally.
As we can see, buying an out-of-the-box tool has some risks involved that can become huge issues down the road. All of these risks can be easily avoided choosing custom software solutions. Ready to get started? Let’s delve into the 11 core pillars for custom software development success.
Why you should choose custom software solutions
When considering the decision to start building your own tools, you should take into account the 11 pillars for custom software solutions.
1. Tailoring and having control over the entire lifecycle of the product
In a custom product, a good development team must decide a particular methodology to use depending on the context, the size of the product, and the customer availability. We are not going to cover the details of every methodology available, but it is important to consider that all of them put focus on the customer to deliver a product that will add value to their business.
Before the coding phase begins, different interviews with the client are scheduled to know not only the expectations about the product but also the final user. In addition, this first approach also sets the foundation for the technology to use, the design, and the involvement that the client will have over the lifecycle.
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2. MVP and continuous delivery
A perk of being involved in the development as the product owner is that you can have different checkpoints to know how the new tool is evolving. In particular, with an agile methodology that supports continuous delivery, you can receive alpha versions of the product that are completely functional, and that way, the curve for training the users will shorten.
Changes are always welcome, so at any time, you can provide feedback on the product to change the behavior, the interface, and other aspects.
Another possibility is to receive an MVP (minimum viable product) that will cover just the fundamental features to run the software as a snapshot of the final version. The intention of this MVP is up to you as the product owner, so while in some cases it can be your first productive version of the tool, it can also serve as a way to present the software to other stakeholders to approve or change the direction of the project.
3. Custom design and features coverage
We first presented some downsides of buying a tool to resolve a particular need from the business, and one of the risks is having a tool that doesn’t provide a solution for the entire problem we need to solve, so this item also refers to that topic.
In custom builds, the development will only have features implemented that are important for the product owner. Other ideas will be proposed, and everything that will be delivered is controlled and will span all needs from the business.
The interface of the custom built tool can match your company design, marketing plans, and branding, thereby giving you a familiar UI to work with.
Do not miss this: 9 clues that scream: “You need custom software”
4. Knowing your dev team
Normally, development teams have different roles. The intention of keeping your dev team close to you in the software lifecycle gives you the opportunity to have a technical person near you to troubleshoot any problem with the new tool. Also, a business analyst can be a bridge between the real world and the software context by translating the needs to actionable work items.
This relationship also helps you to focus on the implementation and keep your needs in mind. Having the business analyst get to know your profile also creates a strong bond between the parties, and this helps you know in advance the expectations the business has.
5. Risk management
As we commented before for continuous delivery, changes are always welcome, and the driver for those changes can be the different risks a development can face. Having a risk management process gives you the ability to keep the team aware of the different situations that can affect the final product.
Every risk management process has a list of situations that have happened or could happen in the future. This list provides a mitigation plan to reduce any possible negative impact and also a contingency plan for reacting to that risk in a proper manner.
6. Warranty and maintenance
Talking about the last stages before delivering the final form of your new tool, the development team will be monitoring the whole process for deploying the software by doing testing in the live environment and providing support as needed.
The idea of a custom build also includes a maintenance phase in which after presenting the tool, maintenance tasks or last minute changes can be implemented to get the software solution up and running as expected.
Take a look at this: 10 risks of not contracting the right custom development
7. User Acceptance Testing
We covered the deliverables plan in the development phase. However, a custom solution also gives you the chance to have a group of real users giving feedback on the product during development or after delivering the final version. This is an important step where real experience will give feedback on the tool.
Including UAT also provides a new perspective of the solution where new needs coming from the users can be collected so that they can use the tool daily.
For every important feature in your software and every UI, the development team will provide detailed documents on how to use the tools and how they were implemented. These documents are delivered and updated during the development phase of the product and will belong to your organization, following the structure, lingo, repository, and branding of the rest of your document library.
Instructing the users on how to use the new tool is also a possibility with custom software solutions. This gives you the chance to have different benchmarks from the development team when interviewing the final users and demoing the tool. These training sessions will be focused on the end user by using their own environment for show and tell.
10. Data and software ownership
Buying a product to help solve a problem in your company has the risk of not being completely compliant with certain regulations regarding sensitive data like GDPR or PCI.
With a custom build, the client controls all the details about where the data is stored, who has access to it, and how it is being used and shared, thereby giving you more control.
In addition, the software provided will be owned by your company, which gives you the chance to continue its development by adding more features in the future. This means the code that implements your tool is also provided as a byproduct of the deliverable.
A custom build does not create a dependency with a third party when you receive the deliverables. You also will not be compromised if a third party changes any aspect of their relationship with your company.
Finally, a critical aspect is the cost. In a licensed product, you normally have a yearly based fee to continue using it. However, in a custom build, the cost of using your product resides only in the costs of keeping it available for users, including hosting and data storage. There is no other hidden fee.
In case you have chosen an IT consultancy company like Hexacta to provide you with a development team, you’ll always have the chance to open a new contract in case you need to upgrade your application.
Want to learn more about our custom services? Get in touch with us!