This is an old survey by Standish, but it shows clearly how
off-the-shelf software can be a false economy.
How do you get the right software for your business?
The first step is to analyse your business needs.
Ask some questions:
Do you need a software package to do more for you...
- to automate more tasks,
- to save time,
- to integrate separate processes, for example, linking e‑commerce with accounts and logistics?
Whatever the reasons, you have two generic options:
- Search for an off-the-shelf product that's the closest fit.
- Use a developer to make something that properly meets your requirements.
Issues with buying an off-the-shelf product
Generic software can't ever be a "one size fits all" solution. It could be over- or under-specified. We've seen many instances of software investment that's really failed to deliver on the publisher's promises.
And if it matches only 80% of your needs then any efficiency gain is only 80%, meaning that 20%—one fifth of your investment—will be wasted, either in features you'll never use, or in extra expense creating workarounds for missing functionality.
It's also too easy to make a big mistake, buy the wrong thing and end up with it completely unused: a totally sunk cost!
But is it compatible—with your business?
Even very good off-the-shelf software can still be a false economy. Your business has to fit to it, not the other way round. This is inefficient and ineffective. It can also be error prone while you're training your staff to do things differently!
New software is often complex, too, with a steep learning curve. You might never fully get to grips with the way it works, and the bits you don't (or can't) use you still pay for.
And finally, because it's off-the-shelf, the same software is probably being used by your competitors! It's literally impossible for you to gain any competitive advantage from it (but this is one key area where a bespoke solution, properly designed and developed, can really pay off).
For all software in commercial use, the purchase cost is always only a small part of the total cost of ownership (TCO). The trick is to get the TCO down as much as possible using all means available, not just buying cheaply!
Advantages you gain from bespoke softwareRather than accept the many compromises involved in buying software off-the-shelf, you could invest in a solution that precisely matches your business needs and can be developed efficiently as your business grows. Here's the key advantages of having us work with you to do this:
- You stay in total control. We will work with you to analyse the way your business works to ensure that the bespoke solution matches the way your business runs. It fits you, not the other way round! This leads to improved efficiency and a significant reduction in errors.
- You'll see increased productivity and reduced costs. Bespoke software applications can automate and speed up repetitive tasks, and the lowered error rate also reduces costs.
- You gain differentiation in the marketplace. Done right, your bespoke solution will set you apart from the competition and give you a competitive edge.
- You'll get vital business information. Focused management reports help you stay on top of your operations and a bespoke software solution provides the information you need, when you need it and in a format that is easy to understand. Bespoke software is a management tool as well as a process-enabling one.
- You'll gain better process integration. You can create and improve data transfer methods between existing applications, making further improvements to effectiveness and efficiency as well as significantly reducing the opportunity for errors to creep into your business processes.
All of this means that the TCO of a tailored solution can be significantly lower than buying off‑the‑shelf.
Is your line-of-business (LOB) software unfit-for-purpose?
When that's the case, many people simply try to upgrade to the newest version, because it ought to be the easiest thing to do. But is it always the right thing to do?
If it's LOB software, it's probably very specific and unusual, crucial to your business, and very hard to replace. Without help you can be stuck with problems you can't solve, and what was once a competitive advantage quickly becomes a serious liability.
What happens if the latest release is actually less relevant to your needs, either because your business has moved on, or the software company has? It's not unknown, too, for the developer of good LOB software to vanish overnight (this happened to one of our clients!). You could be stuck with no support and no upgrade path, either.
In problem situations like these we can, and have, helped companies find sustainable and highly cost-effective solutions to their problems.
If this is you, don't panic—call us instead!
Why use us for your solution?
Bristol IT Company has a long track record of building the "killer" applications our clients need. Many of our staff have higher degrees in specialist software fields, so we won't hand off this vital task to sub‑contractors.
Our clients get tools that fit their businesses, proper, responsive support, and commitment to any future development. You can't beat support from the person who actually wrote the code!
We're pretty good at it, too! Our designs and software products have literally been used around the planet, including the Palace of Westminster, a major US white goods manufacturer, two separate Fortune 100 companies, and by national sports administrators who made the 2012 Olympic games happen!
So, whilst it's true we focus on local IT support, we also have real depth in development when you need it. For us, knowing who we're gonna call is often just a matter of walking over to someone else's desk.
If you think a bespoke solution could take your business to the next level then please get in touch.