Developing a custom software product is an excellent approach to building a solution that effectively manages the daily activities of a business. Many a times, commercial off-the-shelf software cannot cater to the varying requirements of different businesses as they grow. So, companies often prefer to get custom software, developed exclusively for their business. While some tend to set up an in-house development environment, some choose to outsource the software. However, due to some misconceptions, many businesses refrain from investing on a custom application and end up buying commercial off-the-shelf software. In this article, we are trying to throw some light on common myths surrounding custom software development, establishing its importance for enterprises.
Myth #1. Outsourcing custom software development is expensive
Many people believe that building custom software solutions always means incurring heavy upfront and recurring costs. However, if you delve deeper into its nitty-gritty, you’ll find that custom software development is quite cost-effective compared to the off-the-shelf alternatives and it provides a long-term solution and better ROI. By developing a custom software solution, you save money on licensing fees and money spent on software upgrades, which are incurred on a recurring basis in case of off-the-shelf products.
Myth #2. An in-house team can build a better product
Having talented in-house developers is definitely beneficial for your business. But when it comes to building custom software solutions, outsourcing it to a specialized team of software engineers could bring much better results. Having worked on multiple projects, they usually bring great experience and know-how, and are fully vested in developing a good product for your business. The outsourcing team might not know as much about your company as your employees, and they don’t have to. Their focus will be aimed at your specific project, ensuring you benefit from quality custom software solutions.
Myth #3. Any software should be completely bug-free in order to use it in a live environment
This is a common misconception of businesses that custom software cannot have bugs. Off-the-shelf software applications and custom software applications are developed the same way and thus can have glitches. Besides, there is no such thing as completely bug free software. So finding an occasional bug in a software application isn’t a good enough reason to overlook the several benefits of custom software application. Moreover, bugs found in a custom application can be fixed much faster than bugs found in off-the-shelf applications, which are usually addressed by third party developers via scheduled maintenance releases and updates.
Myth #4. User-specific error is a software error
In larger business setups, oftentimes, users may face difficulties with newly installed custom applications, which is a result of improper training or lack of know-how of the application. So, users tend to report lack of familiarity with new software as bugs in the software. However, more often than not, in such cases, the issue that lies at the center of the problem is the willingness of users to adopt to the software rather than the software itself.
Myth #5. To know ‘how it works’ is sufficient
At times, after hiring developers for a project, businesses tend to ignore the development process and implementation details. Upon completion of development, they get themselves acquainted with the working of the software, and that they believe is sufficient. However, at a later stage, this lack of knowledge on technology stack or technology information poses a barrier for the effective resolution of issues. Adoption of a new application should be supplemented with appropriate training on its installation and setup, which is essential to the product being used correctly in the long term with positive outcomes.
Myth #6. New features can be added at any point for the same cost
Agile methodology, which is the industry standard process for developing custom software is flexible and can be adapted to the company’s needs. It’s also scalable, meaning that you can add functionalities as your business evolves. But, every successful software project starts with some sense of the long term scope of the business, and a well-defined list of requirements, which is agreed upon between parties. It is important to get inputs from all the stakeholders and develop well thought out features so that custom software can be scaled in the long run.
Myth #7. More developers ensures faster completion of the project
“Too many cooks spoil the broth”. This saying holds true even in the case of custom app development. Clients often involve more developers in the project in order to get quick output. But this does not always guarantee good quality product for the simple reason that some aspects of custom software development need to be completed sequentially while some can be completed in parallel. When sequential steps are run in parallel with additional resources, it tends to mess up the development lifecycle. A proper analysis of the requirements and a well-planned strategy are true catalysts that ensure that the software is completed in the desired time frame.
Myth #8. Outsourcing firms don’t take the project seriously
It is not uncommon for businesses to feel that outsourcing firms are not vested in your business, and hence do not take custom software development seriously. However, in reality, if you do your due diligence in identifying the right firm, custom software development companies are very focused and dedicated to such projects. The lifetime value of a client in custom software development is quite high. So, there is really no reason for software vendors to not give it their 100% if they have the right expertise and skillset. They bring to the table strong know-how and best practices that manage to transform their goals into advanced custom software that works as an extension of their business.
Myth #9. Custom software doesn’t need automation testing
Any software product that is built with the intention of being used in the long run is a good candidate for automation testing. Software needs to be tested periodically to ensure it performs as expected and does not have minor or major issues that could frustrate the user. Many businesses are reluctant to invest in costs associated with automation testing the software because it is both time-consuming and carries a heavy cost. However, upfront investment on automation tests are essential to bringing down testing costs in the long term. It takes much lesser time to run automation tests than to pay someone to test the software thoroughly when small changes are made to the software.
Myth #10. All business issues must be resolved by custom software
While custom software is an answer for much inefficiency in a business, it cannot be expected to solve every business problem.
All software projects begin with a high level description of requirements that businesses provide to the outsourcing company that take on the development. Every problem that businesses look to solve with the help of custom software solution needs to be captured in the initial requirement list to the extent possible, and is usually addressed with a specific software feature.
Myth #11. Waterfall software development lifecycle still works
Waterfall software development lifecycle is a thing of the past. Even companies that work on fixed cost fixed price models have moved away from waterfall model and use agile model because periodic client feedback is really critical for the success of any project.
Myth #12. Custom Software is useful only for niche companies
This couldn’t be further from the truth. There is no universal rule that custom software works only for niche companies. Whether you are a startup or an enterprise, custom software is tailored to cater to your business’ particular needs and designed to address your business-specific issues.
Myth #13. When the software is released, project is over
Many businesses often think that once the software is launched, the work is done. That is not the case. It is actually far from done. Maintenance and support services are usually part of post-release policy that you can discuss and agree upon with your development partner. Software developers provide an exhaustive maintenance plan for the custom software to ensure the longevity of the product. The nature and the extent of the technical support your software requires is something you can easily determine through a signed contract.
Myth #14. Faster software is better software.
While it is important for software to perform well, it is not always an indicator of good software. Software doesn’t have to perform at breakneck speed in order for it to be considered good. Most software applications once developed need to be closely monitored for user experience and optimized for speed. Focusing excessively on speed of the software can delay launch and lead to unnecessary upfront costs.
Myth #15. Developing custom software means adding too much overhead
It is a common misunderstanding that developing custom software require too much bandwidth from your senior team throughout the duration of the project. As long as your team is involved in the initial project discovery phase, they should be then be required only once every sprint cycle (which is 3 weeks in most cases) to look at a product demo and provide feedback.
Myth #16. Any fee paid should translate directly into usable features in the product
Many a times, businesses expect that any and all fee paid towards developing software translates to front end features that can easily be presented. This is not the case. Project configuration, database setup, code refactoring etc are backend tasks that every team has to do for the long term success of the project, but it has no front end implications, and therefore no visibility to the end client whatsoever.
Myth #17. Your company’s security is at risk
Many businesses invest in popular commercial software, because they are hesitant towards sharing intellectual property with an outsourcing company.
Data security is essential to any software project. Similar to any other collaboration your company has, set privacy rules& security policies, and sign NDA agreements to ensure your data is safe. Upon choosing your outsourcing partner, conduct your due diligence and select one that values long-term partnerships.
Myth #18. Custom software development takes a lot of time
Development projects do take time depending upon the requirements. If a well-thought plan is developed and agreed upon, and all the required resources are available, even a complex project can be completed within the stipulated time.
Myth #19. Custom software involves more risk
When you are going off the beaten path to get custom software developed, there is some amount of risk involved. But it’s worth all your investments because it is going to save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Myth #20. The product’s success depends on the project’s success
The outsourcing company will ensure you receive a high-quality product. But the success and profitability of the custom software relies heavily on marketing and business development efforts. The success and performance of the product in the market is no metric to measure the skill level or professionalism of your technology partner.
The advantages of having software that is tailored to your unique needs are manifold. Troubleshooting, data analysis, and maintenance become easier and faster with custom software. While there are hardly any significant drawbacks to it, you must thoroughly research and choose a reliable technology partner to ensure your project’s success