In this episode of 5 Minutes to Growth, we’re uncovering the common misconceptions people have about using a custom software solution versus an off the shelf product. My guest is Glenn Plunkett, CSH’s Director of Application Development. With Glenn’s help, we’ll clear up some of the common myths surrounding custom software development and highlight why it can be a game changer for an organization’s productivity and efficiency.
Myth 1: Custom software is much more expensive than an off the shelf solution.
It doesn’t have to be, but it depends on the situation. For instance, sometimes we use custom software to fill a void where an off-the-shelf product is missing some functionality. It’s often possible to create high-performance tools to bridge that gap for a very reasonable investment, and much less than it would cost to completely replace an off-the-shelf product.
Let’s not forget that off-the-shelf software often has ongoing costs which custom software does not. For example, licensing and support costs add up over time, and custom software generally doesn’t have such costs.
Myth 2: The development of a custom software solution takes a lot of time.
We use an agile methodology which helps us deliver results quickly and ensure that the client is getting what they want. Agile Development allows the client to give us feedback while we’re doing the work. The time commitment for the client is usually small – on the order of a few hours at the beginning of the project, plus an hour or so each week during the project.
Myth 3: You need to be fluent in “tech speak” to successfully have software developed for you business.
Not at all. Your first priority in selecting a partner for a custom development project should be ensuring that you can relate and communicate effectively from the start.
Our team does an outstanding job in this area. Our goal is to speak the client’s language and understand their business. We’ll take care of the technical details ourselves. Of course, we’re happy to get into the nitty-gritty details if you want, but it’s certainly not necessary.
Some discussion of the technical details always comes up, but we’re prepared to meet our client where they are and work through those things as needed.
Myth 4: You don’t need testing. That just adds additional time and cost to the project.
Testing is hugely important. Naturally, we do a lot of testing ourselves during a project, but there is no substitute for having the client validate our work. Having custom software created for you is a lot like having your kitchen remodeled. You have to specify your requirements up front, and regularly monitor the work as its going on.
Myth 5: Supporting custom software is expensive. Once we have the product, we’ll be left holding the bag for support unless we want to incur more costs.
There are some expenses which are about equal with either custom software or off-the-shelf software. For instance, your hardware costs for servers and such are usually about the same. But where the two differ is in support and maintenance costs. There are no built-in recurring costs with custom software, and training and problem-solving costs are usually lower because the client owns it – they fully understand how things work and are able to minimize those costs and deal with operational issues as they come up. So the only time that additional costs really come up with a custom solution is when you want to make changes to it.
And that’s the beauty of custom software: as your business changes, your software can change with it.