While there’s no such thing as the perfect application, custom software development can get you close. Although off-the-shelf programs can be tempting, they often end up causing you more hassle than they’re worth.
These cookie-cutter solutions are designed to appeal to the masses and, while capable of doing the job, they may not be wholly suitable to individual businesses. Many ready-made types of software may lack the features and functionality your company needs, ultimately leading to a suboptimal solution with poor ROI.
But it doesn’t have to be this way — custom software development (otherwise known as custom application development) lets businesses enjoy software that meets their exact requirements.
Custom application development is the process of designing, creating and deploying tailor-made software applications for specific users. For instance, many schools, healthcare providers and businesses create their own custom portals for students, patients and employees alike, to be used for a variety of purposes. Other notable and more widely used types of custom software include Uber’s ride-sharing application, Netflix’s video streaming platform, and Apple’s iOS software.
The custom application development process is often either performed by in-house developers or outsourced to a third-party, using the same processes and methodologies applied to ready-made applications, but with a much narrower focus. That said, the rise of low-code development platforms has enabled citizen developers to create these kinds of apps by themselves instead of building the program from scratch through coding. As such, low-code development platforms reduce the reliance on dedicated developers, cutting production time and costs, while also boosting the efficiency of developers when using them.
The most obvious benefit of custom application development is that the application created is personalized to your company’s exact needs, unlike off-the-shelf software. This means that all your needs will be met, cutting back on time, effort and cost in the long term.
As time goes on, custom-made apps can also be tailored to meet your company’s present and future needs. By comparison, ready-made software leaves you at the mercy of its developers, who may not update or improve it to your satisfaction. You can also handle any issue or change directly, using your own developers or knowledge to adjust the software.
Businesses tend to use a range of software in their operations, which can lead to compatibility issues. Custom application development helps to bypass this pitfall, ensuring that the apps you create are compatible with the other tools your company uses, bolstering efficiency. Furthermore, custom software development can often create workflows consisting of multiple apps, providing additional efficiency and reduction of user errors.
Off-the-shelf software is a lot more vulnerable to hackers, since it’s used by so many businesses and available to everyone. As a result, hackers will become familiar with the code of those particular programs, which makes them easier to infiltrate. Furthermore, the possibility of accessing the data of multiple businesses is especially attractive for cybercriminals. Custom-made apps are much harder to hack, as they will only be used within one company, with the possibility of additional levels of protection, making them less enticing as a data source for any hackers.
Using ready-made software puts you at risk of having your data under the thumb of somebody else. If you don’t read the small print, you may find yourself realizing that your input is actually controlled by the company that produced the software. If the developers of said program decide to change something about it, you have no say in it. Contrast this with your own custom software — you own the intellectual property rights to it and can continue to use it regardless of what another company or individual developer wants to do with it.
Understanding a new program is always difficult, but it becomes even more time-consuming and confusing when it wasn’t purpose-built for your business. Every person would need to be trained in it, and when it comes to software that contains more high-level information — for example, a database — it would be extremely arduous to coach someone who has no experience in the field to use it. Take a salesperson who wants to reach the data contained in a database — they may need help from your data specialists for a long time before they can use it themselves. Custom applications can negate this by using a friendly language that describes the needs of its users, opening it up to every stakeholder rather than only professionals.
We briefly mentioned workflows before, but it’s such a huge part of business efficiency that it has to be stressed. With custom application development, you can ensure that manual and repetitive tasks are being automated, saving you time and freeing up your employees to deal with the important things that only humans can do. Whether it’s sending emails or automatically moving data, custom software can remove the boring chores and make your business more effective.
EASA is one example of a low-code development platform that enables citizen developers to create custom applications. However, it is unique in that it is designed to let you build a custom web application that can be utilized to access your existing Excel spreadsheets.
While the well-known Microsoft program is the go-to tool for numerous business functions, Excel sheets can spiral out of control when they are shared or used for collaborative purposes. This may lead to issues such as version confusion, with people accessing different copies of the same spreadsheet, intellectual property exposure from files being shared by unsecure means like email, or compatibility problems if users don’t have the same versions of Excel.