If you’re looking at a software purchase in the near future, either to create a saleable app or to replace internal legacy systems, bespoke software could be a fantastic alternative.
Often previously dismissed as an unrealistic expense and time commitment, bespoke software development is now more accessible than ever thanks to the combination of instant communication tools and easy access to cheaper talent in emerging markets.
Businesses are fast waking up to the possibilities this offers. Perhaps driven by a SaaS market that takes a broadly one-size-fits-all approach, organisations of all sizes are choosing software options that allow them to define their own requirements.
By 2024, the global custom software market is projected to grow in value by nearly $100bn from its 2018 base. Given that bespoke software can be designed around your exact business needs – whilst enabling major time and cost savings for your company – it isn’t difficult to see why.
Below, we take a closer look at what bespoke software is and what the benefits are.
What Is Bespoke Software?
Bespoke software is simply software built specifically to meet a brief or set of requirements. You might also see it referred to as ‘custom software’, ‘custom-built software’ or ‘tailor made software’.
This is in contrast to ‘off-the-shelf’ software.
Off-the-shelf software is prebuilt software that is ready to install. It’s not built to a brief and is designed to be adapted to a range of companies or situations.
You can build bespoke software yourself if you have an in-house development team, but many companies prefer to outsource to an external software development company to save the time and cost associated with making permanent hires.
What Is Bespoke Software Used For?
Bespoke software encompasses everything from a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to a fully designed and developed software product. It can be used to fulfil a variety of business needs, and can be deployed as both internal software or a saleable customer or client-facing app.
For example, you might want to replace your company’s legacy systems but find nothing on the market that meets your requirements. In this case, you could ask an external software development company to create internal software to your own specifications.
Alternatively, you might want to start offering your customers access to key services via a mobile app. If you don’t like any of the white label solutions on offer for your particular industry, you could create your own mobile app built around the needs of your customers.
What Are the Benefits of Bespoke Software Development?
Because bespoke software is built around your unique needs, it offers several benefits in comparison to off-the-shelf software.
1. A Greater Return on Your Investment
If you implement an off-the-shelf solution, you’ll need to adapt your processes to fit the software. This is a time and productivity drain, and often results in unexpected customisation and delays during implementation.
On the other hand, bespoke software is built specifically to fit your existing processes. This means that there’s much less of a productivity drop when you start using your software and your investment starts saving you money quicker after initial investment.
2. A Standout UX
If you want a saleable product that competes on UX, bespoke software is the way to go. With white-label products, you are stuck with the same interface other companies in your industry use, and you can’t make improvements based on user research and customer feedback.
On the other hand, bespoke software offers the freedom to add new features and rework major UX pain points as soon as you identify them. You can add functionality faster than your competitors and offer an experience that stands out from the crowd.
3. Complete Control Over Key Features
If you opt for off-the-shelf software for internal functions, you’re at the mercy of vendors when it comes to adding new functionality. You might have to upgrade to a higher pricing tier to access certain features or wait on a product update to access what you need.
Bespoke software development lets you add useful features as and when you need them, which offers major efficiency gains over off-the-shelf software.
4. Potential Cost Savings
Measure for measure, off-the-shelf software would usually be cheaper than bespoke software development. It typically costs less to buy and implement an enterprise system than to build your own version from scratch (even if implementation issues frequently add significant unexpected costs to off-the-shelf purchases).
But that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Implementing a poor-fit off-the-shelf solution simply because it appears cheaper upfront will cost you far more in the long term than a bespoke solution. At their worst, failed software implementations have lost hundreds of millions of dollars and years of effort.
Often, a small bit of custom development work can save you significant long-term spend. You might want to add a particular feature to your off-the-shelf CRM system without having to upgrade to a higher pricing tier and pay significantly more per user per month.
Alternatively, you might want to add functionality or integration to a software product that the vendor doesn’t offer at all, without having to replace a system you’re otherwise happy with. For example, specialty jewellery retailer Signet wanted a way to set and automatically track and calculate employee performance against sales targets – without replacing any of its major systems.
Our development team created them a Galaxy Note screen to link in-store point of sale (PoS) software to target-setting software used by head office. This enabled data from the PoS to feed into the head office application and update every 15 minutes. The solution significantly cuts the amount of time it takes to review targets, translating into financial savings of £175,000 per year across 30 stores.
Find the Right Bespoke Software Development Partner
In order to get the most out of a custom software investment, it’s important to find the right outsourcing partner.
At Evolve, we have over 13 years’ experience in creating bespoke solutions for companies across a range of industries. With a UK-based consulting team and the ability to draw on a global network of top software development talent, we specialise in:
- Software product engineering
- Cloud technologies
- Big & small data
- Artificial intelligence
- Internet of Things
- Service design