Gaining a Competitive Edge through Custom Software Development
As a business grows, there comes a point where the tools and processes that worked on a small scale can no longer keep up with the demands that come with growth and expansion.
Scaling up also means coming into contact with more companies offering similar services to you. Continuing to use software that was not designed to handle the increased workload of your growing business will keep your competitors in the driver’s seat.
In order to establish a competitive advantage, sometimes the best step you can take is to embrace custom software development.
What is Custom Software?
Custom software is any program or application that has been specifically designed and developed to meet a business’s unique needs. This attention to a company’s particular needs stands in contrast to the one-size-fits-all philosophy of off-the-shelf software.
Businesses seek out custom software development services when their needs exceed the capacity of off-the-shelf products.
Those needs can include an increased requirement for scalability as a company grows, a desire to streamline processes that currently require team members to bounce between multiple programs and apps, making automation a priority, and the list goes on.
The fact is, no two businesses are exactly the same, and no two businesses embrace custom software development for the same reasons. But no matter the reason for making the change, custom software brings several benefits to the table.
The Benefits of Custom Software Development
Every company has its own reasons for leaving off-the-shelf software behind, and the benefits of bespoke software are prioritized differently by everyone. Those benefits combine to provide those that embrace custom software a competitive advantage in business.
This is not to say that there is no place for off-the-shelf software in the business world. There is. The licensing fees are generally inexpensive, and though you may have to use more than one program from more than one provider to meet your needs, you can often meet those needs adequately. At least you can for a while.
Here are some of the top reasons to leave your reliance on off-the-shelf products behind.
Unique function and presentation
Every business, even within the same industry, is unique. Everyone has different processes and priorities. Custom software allows you to optimize your processes and workflows by taking your operations and trimming the fat from them.
Additionally, customizing software development allows you to expand your branding. Tailoring your software to your approach and philosophy strengthens your voice and distills your brand to its purest form.
As you grow your business, you will offer new services, you will offer new products and will need to establish new processes. The off-the-shelf software that may have worked well for you initially will likely not have the capability to keep up with the new functions you require.
An example of how customized software can scale with your business can be seen in M-Files. You can use M-Files to streamline existing processes while using their adaptable functionalities to create new workflows and open the door for automation.
Increased productivity and team morale
When your software is tailored to your team’s processes to meet your customers’ needs, those processes take less time to accomplish. Off-the-shelf software may add several steps to any workflow because it was not made with the specificity of any one business in mind.
Taking a customized approach allows tasks to be completed faster with more ease. This allows your team to respond to customer requests sooner and reduces frustration when a team feels the company they work for doesn’t listen to what they need to do their job well.
Integration and modernization
When looking at custom enterprise software development intended to improve the operations of an existing business environment, integration with past systems is important. After all, you don’t want to accidentally erase important data.
Custom software can integrate the disparate data storage systems your company has relied on so that your team no longer needs to bounce back and forth between apps and programs, copying, pasting, and reformatting data with every step, to accomplish tasks.
For example, M-Files can integrate your CRM, ERP, and external databases to make managing your key documents and data simple and efficient. M-Files also provides a platform from which you can update your processes with robotic process automation (RPA) to streamline your business operations further.
The world has changed in the last year or so. 2020 showed us that businesses that want to thrive under any circumstances must have a plan for remote operations. Some off-the-shelf software may not have a portal for web access, meaning remote operations are impossible.
Custom software can be designed to allow for secure access by a remote workforce and integrate mobile apps and customer/client-facing mobile operations.
Whether giving your field management team a simple way to gather data or making customer interaction as simple as possible, custom software development is the best choice to meet your needs in this area.
Custom software development allows you to build security protocols into your system. You won’t need to license a secondary security program to cover vulnerabilities in your off-the-shelf software.
Fully integrating your preferred security measures and protocols into your software allows you to give your stakeholders and customers peace of mind that you can keep data safe.
This is especially important when looking at custom healthcare software development or software for industries with similar levels of regulation. Making sure your software is designed to meet regulatory standards ensures you stay on the right side of compliance.
Gaining your Competitive Edge
What is a competitive edge, and how does custom software provide it? How can developing applications and programs based on your specific needs set you apart from the pack?
When we start asking questions like “what is a competitive advantage,” we can go to a bookstore, find the business section, and read any number of academic parsings of what that phrase means. But really, the answer is simple.
Anything that gives you a way to serve your customers better than your competitors, gives you a way to increase your productivity and ROI to invest in new innovations, and anything that attracts the top names in your field to your company is giving you a competitive advantage.
Bespoke software gives you all of those. Companies using technology to gain competitive advantage aren’t relying on off-the-shelf software. They are embracing the competitive edge of custom software.
Productivity and ROI
As has been highlighted earlier, custom software allows you to take your workflows and streamline them for higher productivity from your team. That in turn, leads to a high return on investment.
After all, in many cases, software costs the same no matter how much work is getting done through it. So software that opens the door for more work to be completed with fewer potential pitfalls than you would get with off-the-shelf software means you get more bang for your buck.
Getting a high ROI from your software is a textbook IT competitive advantage.
Whether your custom software includes a customer-facing element or not, having bespoke programs and apps allows you to address customer requests faster than you could with off-the-shelf software.
Your customer service processes can be examined and optimized via custom software in the same way as any other business process. So you can serve your customers quickly and efficiently.
That kind of customer service leads to positive word of mouth. And getting free advertising from satisfied customers is a competitive edge you can’t buy.
Motivated team members
People who feel that the company for whom they work values their time and input work harder for that company. And content employees are less likely to want to leave for a competitor.
Conversely, employees from other companies will see who is happy and valued in their industry, and they will want to join those teams.
Using custom software development to make your workforce feel valued and important to your success increases company morale and attracts the best names in an industry. Who doesn’t want to work for someone who respects you enough to give you the best tools for success?
A company full of teams with positive attitudes and tools that allow them to make the most out of their day is a company full of individual competitive advantages.
Competitive Edge Software
In the end, when you think of competitive advantage software solutions, you are thinking about managing people. Developing programs and apps that allow your team to do more for the company with accuracy and ease is an easy choice.
Even financially, custom software development costs are offset by the vast array of benefits and competitive edges that software provides. Off-the-shelf software simply cannot compare.
Stop asking, “what is a competitive edge in business.” You know the answer. Custom software development allows you to create a timetable to modernize, automate, and streamline your processes to put your company ahead of your competitors.
Put your old software back on the shelf. Take the advantage that is right in front of you.