Anyone in need of new software has inevitably faced the question of whether standard software is sufficient or whether it is better to programme customised software (individual software).
What exactly distinguishes the two options, what are the advantages and what are the disadvantages?
As the name suggests, standard software is a mass product developed for a large number of customers. Consequently, it is also much cheaper (at least at first glance) than programming customised software for particular needs and business processes. Standard software can be purchased (or rented) online and configured directly by the customer. This software contains functions suitable for a large number of customers, but it will never be able to satisfy all their wishes because, as already mentioned, it has been programmed for a large number of users with different needs and the benefits are therefore superficial.
In order to be able to connect standard software with other existing software, interfaces are required that allow both systems to communicate with each other. A seconda del software, tali interfacce sono già disponibili o devono essere acquistate separatamente. Sono indispensabili sistemi ERP, sistemi CRM, sistemi di collaborazione e persino portali di e-commerce dove l'azienda può caricare i prodotti. Con la proliferazione del cloud computing, diversi fornitori offrono soluzioni intuitive e precostituite basate sul cloud, a pagamento.
Individual software is individually designed and developed for a specific business process.This means that exactly what functions the software is to represent and contain is determined at the outset. Programming naturally takes a little longer than downloading ready-made standard software from the Internet, but it can be adapted to individual business processes and remains flexible even if circumstances change: customised software can adapt to changes in business processes. Connection with other software used in the company can be realised without much effort. The project costs initially seem higher than for the purchase of standard software, but they are one-off and can be planned for. It must not be forgotten that the service provider of standard software must extend its hand again for each modification, adaptation or update.
The use of customised software is particularly recommended in cases where software is part of the core business. In order to stand out from the competition and be exceptionally strong in certain points, it is worth illustrating these strengths with the help of customised software.
Custom software development
Customised software may be developed in iterative processes, taking into account all nuances and hidden risks, and may include functionality or tasks not specified in the original requirements specification. The latter is crucial in today's very fluid business environment, where changes occur very quickly.
There is no one-size-fits-all model for every company. Each company is structured and managed in its own way, and customised software is best suited to respond to this unique character. Customised software development allows software to be adapted to the business model. It requires adapting the business model to the software flow and risking the productivity, effectiveness and even the viability of the enterprise.
The need for customised software is greatest for large enterprises. Large enterprises use customised software for most of their functions, such as content management, inventory management, customer management, human resources management and more. It is likely that most major enterprise-level software products, such as CRM, ERP and others, are custom-built. Customised software contributes to effective integration between key systems, enables seamless data capture for Big Data analysis, facilitates regulatory compliance and other external transactions, and enables companies to proactively respond to events and situations.
Challenges of implementing customised software for small and medium-sized enterprises
Customised software offers numerous advantages but is expensive. However, the company only pays for the use of the technology when it is needed, while it often happens that companies end up paying more for unnecessary features and functionalities.
Companies should consider the total life-cycle cost and the net value offered. Customised solutions save money by improving efficiency in the long run. Available software may have a lower price, but the investment in customised software over its lifecycle continues to pay off in terms of improved efficiency, productivity, revenue or any other goal. Customised software that is fully optimised for its objectives can do its job much better than generic, commercial software.
Companies can become agile with customised software. In the event of a bug, for example, the company could fix it immediately instead of waiting for the next update, which can take months. Small and medium-sized enterprises can get in touch with the developer and ensure a transparent flow of information between the company and the development partner. In this way, improvements can be made in the area of routine maintenance without affecting normal business operations. With pre-built software, the company assumes a high risk of living with vulnerabilities.
Optimising business processes for smooth and uninterrupted operation through customised software also offers numerous benefits that transform the entire company. Highly functional customised software helps the company to have greater control over all operations and to control the growth process, which can often be chaotic. A digitally-focused company enables a cultural change towards a more open and proactive company, which is considered the key to success in today's extremely challenging economy.
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