Custom software development is undoubtedly an ever-current topic that generates many questions and, above all, misunderstandings. What is business software for companies? How is it developed? Does your company need it?
That is precisely why today at our software company Tribalyte Technologies, as experts in software engineering and custom technology solutions, we would like to share with you a practical and complete guide that we hope will be useful to any entrepreneur who is looking for more information and recommendations on this type of projects.
- 1 What is custom software development?
- 2 Business software examples
- 3 What is custom business software?
- 4 Custom software vs packaged software
- 5 Custom software development. How much does it cost?
- 6 Custom software solutions pros
- 7 How long does it take to develop custom software?
- 8 SaaS vs Business Software
- 9 Desktop Software vs desktop App: are they the same thing?
- 10 Company Software & Apps
- 11 Desktop software vs web-based software
- 12 Which type of company is custom software most suitable for?
- 13 What are some successful examples of custom software?
- 14 What about custom e-commerce development?
- 15 Custom Software Development Life Cycle: Step by step
- 16 Business software technologies we recommend
- 17 10 CTO tips to get the most out of your business software
- 18 Custom software development experts
What is custom software development?
In general, we can say that business software is any software solution that helps manage the operations of a company. These tools help improve the performance, effectiveness, or efficiency of different business processes such as task tracking, resource management, accounting management, company administration, sales teams, marketing goals, etc. Thus, when a company decides to invest in tailored business software rather than standard solutions, we speak of custom software development.
Business software examples
Two well-known examples of business software are CRMs (Customer Relationship Management), that is, a fundamental tool to take care of and streamline the relationship with customers, and ERPs (Enterprise Resource Planning), which helps companies to centralize the management of all their resources to streamline processes and improve business productivity. Besides, it is possible to design and develop any type of software that contributes to the management of the specific business.
What is custom business software?
Custom business software for companies, like any type of custom development, consists of the set of technological solutions (including not only the classic idea that we have of desktop software but all kinds of web tools, mobile applications, etc.) that allows finding specific solutions in line with the very needs of an individual company. For example, the management software of an airline company is required to facilitate a type of communication with customers that, as obvious as it may sound, will not be the same as a logistics company or a restaurant chain will have. An invoice software will not have the same characteristics as a marketing management tool and so on.
Custom software vs packaged software
There are many commercial and SaaS software solutions that surely can handle many tasks perfectly. Who could give up, for example, office software packages (text editor, powerpoints, spreadsheets)? But – keep it in mind – it all depends on the type of need to be covered.
A classic bicycle and an electric bicycle technically offer the same service: moving people. But the next question would be: Where do you want to go? How far do you want to reach? Will your classic bike hold up all the slopes?
It is all about two different types of attitudes to achieve the same goal. Neither one solution excludes the other nor can replace it.
Custom software development. How much does it cost?
Like all million-dollar questions, there is no fixed answer to this one. As for custom solutions, it is impossible to estimate the cost without considering in detail each specific need of the project. Normally custom software solutions tend to be more expensive than a commercial package. This is because generic software pays for itself by the volume of users, while custom development requires implementation work adapted to your very business.
Custom software solutions pros
Long-term profitability, customization, and optimization.
To understand better how it works, let’s make an example. As we have seen, there are already many standard CRM solutions on the market that can be purchased “with a click”.
A renewable energy company has 30 employees in its Management Control department. The company acquires a standard CRM license for each of them for 30 euros per month each. Thus, our company will spend at least 10,800 euros per year. Very likely, it will be necessary to add costs of data migration, implementation, training, etc. So, let’s consider a total of 15,000 euros per year.
It is also possible that the CRM we have purchased offers us many functionalities that, sooner or later, we could realize are not indispensable but we still have to pay for them. Or, on the other hand, our company grows and new business needs start to appear but our standard CRM doesn’t seem to cover them.
Continuing with the example, let’s suppose that another energy company with the same number of employees, has chosen to invest in custom software development to meet exactly their business needs. Let’s say that custom development had a cost of 30,000 euros. It means that this investment will be amortized in two years, that is, from the third year, our company will have saved money compared to the previous situation. Besides, the custom tool will be covering exactly the specific needs of the company.
To sum up, a commercial CRM may perfectly cover the needs of your company or, on the other hand, it may end up being a superficial solution that in the long term will have a much higher cost than custom software exclusively for your business.
How long does it take to develop custom software?
Another million-dollar question. Of course, business software development deadlines depend on the scope of the specific software to be developed. With that said, our recommendation is to start with analyzing all the unplaceable requirements. This will give us a general idea of the necessary deadlines. Based on this, carry out an architecture design and project planning. But never forget to include in your time estimation the most important step of your project: testing. It is time to verify the correct operation of your software and thus achieve your customer satisfaction.
How long can it take to complete all of these tasks? Roughly speaking, from a few months to more than a year. The more careful the development, the longer the lead times and the better the performance for the client company. However, it is important to highlight that during your software development it is possible to launch intermediate versions that can already solve some business needs of the company. This will help the company value and see the result of its investment in a short-time period.
So, let’s say you have a company with 50 employees and you got in touch with a software company for a product estimation about customized management software. If they told you that it would take them approximately a month and a half to develop it, you’d better double-check.
SaaS vs Business Software
SaaS (Software as a Service) is a type of cloud-based software that provides services based on the type of subscription purchased. A very famous example of SaaS would be Google Workspace (GDrive, GDocs, etc.). So can a company use a SaaS solution as management software? Of course. Is a SaaS more profitable than custom business software? Not necessarily. Besides, remember that custom business software can be built as SaaS.
When choosing which type of custom development would be the most suitable for your very case, each company must always take into account 3 factors: needs, objectives, and, of course, resources.
Desktop Software vs desktop App: are they the same thing?
It is a very common misunderstanding. With the arrival of smartphones, we got used to using terms such as “app” or “applications” with reference exclusively to mobile devices in our day-to-day lives. But when we speak of “application” we refer to all kinds of computer programs and technological tools that are designed and developed to fulfill specific tasks. As a matter of fact, any type of technological equipment (computer, smartwatch, tablet, etc.) needs applications to perform its functions. Even a microwave or a washing machine has an “app” although, in this case, they use low-level programming languages (“low” refers only to the reduced level of abstraction and not to their quality) and they need “embedded software” or “firmware” installed for their devices to work.
Thus, desktop software and desktop apps mean exactly the same thing. On the other hand, desktop applications, mobile applications, and web apps are different things. A practical example: the calculator that we have on our computer is a desktop application. The Instagram app that we have downloaded into our smartphone is a mobile app. The Linkedin website that we access from our computer is a web app. And, to be more precise, if the Apple website is just a web page, the App Store webpage is a web application, or, even better, it is an online store.
Company Software & Apps
Remember, while you’re developing desktop business software, at the same time you’ll be able to make the same version of the product, adaptable to mobile devices, that is, company mobile business applications.
Desktop software vs web-based software
These are two equally valid types of software development, each with its pros and cons:
- Installation: it needs to be installed on each individual device.
- Internet: it doesn’t require an Internet connection.
- Data: Decentralized. Data storage is needed for each device.
- Time estimation: It usually requires (in principle) less time to be developed.
- Portability: It depends on the operating system in use, although it is possible to opt for cross-platform technologies.
- Performance: Potentially faster Response & Execution time.
- Updating: each workstation needs to be updated individually.
- Security: An expert software developer can perfectly guarantee your security using all the appropriate tools.
- Installation: it doesn’t need to be installed.
- Internet: it requires an Internet connection, although it is possible to set offline tasks.
- Data: Usually centralized and stored on the cloud provider.
- Time estimation: Usually shorter (in principle) since there are numerous frameworks that allow speeding up their development.
- Portability: Wide. Depending on the frameworks used, it can be run with any browser on any operating system/device (cross-platform).
- Performance: It may depend on your Internet connection, so the best performance cannot always be guaranteed.
- Updating: Automatic for all devices by which it gets accessed.
- Security: An expert software developer can guarantee the security of communications using HTTPS and even protocols based on Blockchain technologies.
Which type of company is custom software most suitable for?
“The sky is the limit”. The main characteristic of custom software solutions is precisely their ability to adapt perfectly to any type of business or company. It is also true that, in the case of a startup or a brand new company with still limited resources, the ideal would be to first opt for standard software. Then, as soon as the business is stable and specific needs arise from inside the company teams, it’s time to get in touch with a software engineer to explore all possible customized solutions.
What are some successful examples of custom software?
Business consulting software, invoice generators, invoice management software, contract management platforms, payroll tools, time tracking app, administrative tools, customer relationship management, HR software, Hospitality Property Management, software for lawyers, industrial property firms & investment, electricity supply, pharmaceutical industry, private clinics, public administration, universities, transportation companies…just to name a few sectors that we had the pleasure to work for.
What about custom e-commerce development?
There are several standard e-commerce solutions on the market (WooCommerce, Magento, or Prestashop, for example) that do offer many features to create online stores. On the other hand, final company users usually find it difficult to customize the platform, and – this is a big problem – in some cases, standard e-commerce solutions offer very little technical support. Once again, it will all depend on the specific goals your company set.
Custom software development: Our software engineers at work.
Custom Software Development Life Cycle: Step by step
To delve deeper into the subject and provide more technical details, we have asked our CTO, Rafel Barriuso, to help us understand well what type of workflow requires the software development life cycle of a project for companies. In addition to that, we’ll give you some techie tips on what technologies you should use.
Each software company may have a different development process. As for us, at Tribalyte Technologies we generally use agile software development methodologies:
- Analysis of high-level requirements and the scope of development gets set.
- Requirements breakdown (with the information available so far) in “user stories”.
- “Project priorities get set along with the client for each “user story”.”.
- The scope of development gets divided into milestones and deliverables (functional prototyping).
- Preliminary design of the system architecture.
- Choosing and setting the technologies to use.
- Setting the iterations’ duration (“sprints”).
- Planning the first iterations and the “user stories” that each one will cover.
- Beginning of the iterative development.
Then, within each iteration:
- Analysis and refinement of the requirements to be implemented in the iteration.
- Analysis and establishment of the validation criteria for each requirement.
- Preparation and validation of the system architecture (if applicable).
- Preparation of the application screens (if applicable).
- Development of the functionalities planned for the iteration.
- Development of the corresponding automated testing to examine the operation of the implemented features.
- Testing and validating the implemented functionalities.
At this point, it is important to note that we will always try to generate and put into operation the next versions of our system (prototypes) that can add more value to customer satisfaction from the early stages of custom software development. Each prototype will include a greater number of functionalities within each iteration.
Business software technologies we recommend
The number of technologies that can be used for the development of any type of business tool is immense, so here we will only name some of the most common we use and recommend, depending on the type of software component:
- Front-end: ReactJS, Angular, Vue.js.
- Back-end: JavaEE, Spring, NodeJS, Express, NestJS, Loopback, microservices.
- Database: relational (MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, SQL Server) or non-relational (MongoDB, Elasticsearch, Cassandra). ORMs.
- Native: Java y Kotlin (Android), Swift y Objective-C (iOS).
- Hybrid: Ionic Framework (with Angular, ReactJS o Vue.js y Capacitor or Cordova), ReactNative.
- Back-end SaaS: Firebase, AWS Mobile Hub, etc.
- Windows: C# y .NET Framework with the Windows Universal Platform (UWP), WPF, or Windows Forms.
- Cross-plataform: QT Framework, .NET Core, ElectronJS. NW.js.
Blockchain (“smart contracts”): Solidity, Truffle, Web3.
10 CTO tips to get the most out of your business software
- If you choose package software, do not assume that it will be completely adapted to your needs. You may need to adapt your business processes to get the most out of your standard solution.
- First, analyze carefully and in detail all the business processes of your company. This is the basic but main factor to be able to create a software solution tailored to the very needs of your business. Never take it for granted.
- Make sure you have fluent communication with the development team that will design and implement the customized solution for your company. A software company without communication skills can be very dangerous.
- Prepare all the documentation you may need (texts, diagrams, presentations). An efficient development team will need to “start thinking” the same as you to find a real custom solution.
- Make sure your software provider makes regular deliveries during project development. You’ll have to ensure they meet all the requirements. This will help you detect promptly if they don’t.
- Find time to review each software release and do not delay validations.
- Test each prototype in the business environment closest to the real context. This will help avoid unpleasant surprises when putting the system into production.
- Make sure the final users of your business tool are getting involved in the custom software development. Their suggestions are very important to identify any opportunity for improvement.
- Have at least a rough estimate of the number of final users, concurrent users, the volume of data and operations, etc.
- Always put the security first: system and data communications, as well as all the regulations that the system must comply with regarding the processing of personal data and confidential information.
If you’re convinced that your project may bring new features to the market, have you considered protecting your idea? Your technology can be protected with patents or utility models so, think about it.
Custom software development experts
As we have already seen, many practical recommendations and tips surely can help us make our decision but the best option is always to speak about it directly with a software engineering expert.
We are an international custom software company, so, if you’d like to know more about your specific development needs, just get in touch absolutely without obligation. We will be more than happy to answer all your questions and find the best solution for you.SPEAK WITH AN EXPERT