How Custom Software Development Can Help Your Business

Written by

What is custom software development?

The software most people use in their day-to-day lives is designed to be adopted by a wide variety of end users. Slack, for example, is used by organizations of all shapes and sizes, as is Google Docs, Figma, and so on.

But these kinds of commercial off-the-shelf software might not always meet a user's needs. If that's the case, you might need custom software.

Custom software development is the process of creating software bespoke for a specific user or set of users. It can either solve a specific problem within an organization, or it can be consumer-facing. Whatever it is, custom software development addresses problems that can't be accomplished with other ready-made solutions. And it can be developed by the company's own in-house developers or, if costs and/or scale demand, outsourced to a third-party provider.  

For example, a company might need to analyze a type of data that other analytics solutions can't sufficiently process. It could be a fleet management platform for drones. Or maybe it's a tourism app specific to a country that goes beyond the offerings of most booking sites.

Custom software development typically involves three types of work: application customization, application modernization and application management.

Application customization is when off-the-shelf software are modified to work for a requirement they weren't entirely intended for, or which, from the perspective of the original developer, would be considered an edge case.

Application modernization is when an app is adjusted to meet new technological paradigms and use cases that weren't originally anticipated when it was first developed.

Application management involves all the tasks necessary to ensure that the custom software continues to operate as intended and is optimized for performance.

Why is custom software development important?

Custom software development is important because it allows companies to meet demands particularly to their business at a cost that is usually on par with tweaking existing off-the-shelf software. Resorting to custom software development often results in the following benefits:

  • Efficiency: Developing software for a particular use case usually results in faster, more productive programs that are not bottlenecked by the limitations of off-the-shelf software.
  • Scalability: Organizations best know how they might grow and what that growth might demand of their code base. Developing custom software lets companies take these considerations into account so that their software solutions don't become an impediment to scaling.
  • Lower integration costs: Off-the-shelf software doesn't always work with the rest of an organization's suite or stack. When it doesn't custom software can work around those hurdles to come up with something that integrates seamlessly with the rest of a system.
  • Profitability: Problems encountered by one company are often encountered by others. When that's the case, the custom software developed for that organization can be licensed to others who have the same or similar uses for it.
  • Independence: Owning your own software means being free of the terms and conditions of vendors, as well as the fees they can impose on users. At the same time, organizations have to rely on themselves for any support issues they might encounter. The cost-benefit analysis has to be conducted on a case-by-case basis.

Keys to effective custom software development

When entering into a custom software development project, there are some key considerations to make sure you yield the maximum benefit.

Build vs. buy

Before entering into a custom software development project, it's important to first assess whether an off-the-shelf solution will work for your needs. A working off-the-shelf solution is ultimately better than a custom one that fails, and if the likelihood of success is low, you might be better off going with something that already exists and trying to adapt to it, or adapt it to your needs.

Collaboration among all involved

If you do decide to go forward in developing custom software, make sure that stakeholders across the organization and throughout the project stay in communication with one another. This way, members of the organization can provide their input on how the project proceeds so that as many last-minute problems as possible can be avoided. Careful collaboration minimizes surprises, maximizes quality, and in doing both, ultimately manages costs.

Clear requirements

Understanding and communicating exactly what the project needs is critical for success. Custom software development teams need thoroughly delineated sets of requirements for producing exactly what the organization actually needs. Those requirements include:

  • Correctness — the requirement is actually doable
  • Clarity — the requirement doesn't confuse and makes sense
  • Completeness — the requirement is wholly conveyed
  • Consistency — it doesn't contradict other requirements
  • Verifiability — the requirement's completion can be identified within the software
  • Traceability — it can be tracked
  • Feasibility — it can be implemented within the project's parameters
  • Modularity — it can be altered without detrimentally affecting the rest of the project
  • Design independence — the design team can work regardless of this requirement's existence

Technologies and practices

However you go about executing the project, the technologies and practices should be state-of-the-art and ideal for the task at hand. At FullStack Labs, we specialize in using the following technologies:

  • React.js - A JavaScript framework maintained by Facebook that's ideal for building complex, modern user interfaces within single page web apps.
  • React Native - A JavaScript framework that allows rapid development of native Android and IOS apps.
  • Ruby on Rails - A server side programming language known for its ease of use and speed of development.
  • Node.js - A lightweight and efficient backend javascript framework for web apps.
  • Python - An interpreted high-level programming language great for general purpose programming.
  • Angular.js - A JavaScript framework maintained by Google that addresses many of the challenges encountered when building single-page apps.
  • Ember.js - A JavaScript framework that allows developers to build large, complex, scalable single-page web applications.
  • Vue.js - A progressive JavaScript framework known for its approachability, versatility, and performance.
  • Flutter - Open-source UI SDK created by Google. It allows the development of native apps for mobile, web, and desktop from a single codebase.
  • Java - Class-based and object-oriented programming language. Java is a general-purpose language.
  • JavaScript - A scripting language built to create dynamically updating content, control multimedia, animate images, among others.

Maintenance and management of a custom software

Once the software has finally been developed and deployed, maintenance and management are key. Software development companies often not only provide development services, but also ongoing maintenance to deal with unforeseen problems and the overall upkeep of the solution.

By outsourcing this maintenance to a third-party software provider, an organization's own developers don't get bogged down and can focus on other aspects of development more connected to core business tasks. And by outsourcing, automation is much easier to implement.

If you're considering custom software development, we have ample experience and can give you an accurate assessment based on our prior work. Contact us for questions or to find out more.

Frequently Asked Questions