All businesses rely on some form of technology to make their daily tasks easier and more efficient. Increasing productivity in the workplace can be as easy as installing new software for your company, and still we see business-owners lagging. Although there are typically certain downsides to utilizing new operating systems, such as training and up-front costs, the upside has been proven to be insurmountable. Whether it be to communicate, sell, market or collaborate better, there are already creative solutions that exist. The trick is finding the correct software that will help your company to grow.
For example, here at AVATAR Computing in Worcester, MA, we have partners who rely heavily on an off-the-shelf email marketing software. They appreciate the usability, and remaining actively engaged with their customers has never been so easy. Once a week they design a newsletter with savings and deals, and it is one click away from being sent to an entire customer base. But this canned software does not apply to another one of our clients.
This other client has a business structure that travels from city to city. 50 events a year, 50 cities in 50 different states. The cookie-cutter charge per contact pricing scheme did not work for them – their lists had a high turnover rate with very little customer retention. So, the owner of this company reached out to ask about the benefits of building custom software – three major advantages are as follows.
- Compatibility & Functionality
One of the first things I do when considering a new technology solution for my company is look at the integration services it offers. Integration is the coordination of processes, and this is exactly what happens when you can find software that works together. It can be as simple as being compatible with excel, so you can export information easily, or you have more advanced integrations – automated billing or cloud platforms for example.
When you choose to custom build the software for your business you are allowing yourself to customize its functionality. Using the example above, one user did not care about how easy it was to add imagery, colors and font to his emails because they only send classic text emails. So, when considering building his own software he can focus on things like security, cost per email and actually making his way into inboxes. Often time canned software includes features you will never be able to use, and there is no option to remove these – something to think about when considering the difference in cost.
- Support & Scalability
Most of this article has been about the great solutions that software can provide – but have you ever spent hours on hold attempting to contact customer service? I have, which leads us to the next topic of support. Typically, when you purchase off-the-shelf software you are reliant on community support and tutorials. Tutorials consists of blogs, articles and self-help videos that some individual has released for your benefit. Now I am not saying that no software comes with customer support, but even when it does it is often delayed, outsourced or non-existent. Typically support involves sending an email and waiting 48 hours for a reply.
When you choose to build your own software, your support is now the individuals you decided to partner with – whether that be a third-party technology solution company or your internal team. If you do your due diligence in choosing the right developers, this support system can be very helpful. Having a team who knows your business, and an existing relationship, is ideal when troubleshooting issues.
This same concept also provides huge benefits when discussing scalability. As your company continues to grow, your software can adapt and change with it. If your using pre-built software, as you begin to hire you will be charged more per user. If it is your company owns the property, it is yours to do with as you please – including adding more users. I have seen businesses return a profit, and begin selling their application to other companies – even to competitors. Which brings us to the competitive advantage that your software can provide.
- Intellectual Property and Competitive Advantage
When taking on the endeavor of building a custom technology solution, you are typically agreeing to a higher initial cost. The money upfront may seem intimidating, but run some numbers and find out how long a subscription with that service would take to be just as costly. Something else to consider that money may not be able to buy is the competitive advantage. If the industry is changing, and you develop software to cater to your success, this is just another advantage your rivals do not have.
When using a SaaS, you must remember that everyone has access to it. This means that direct and indirect competitors can be using the same services as you, and the company that gets the most out of it is the one that dedicates the time and resource to become experts. When you build custom software, your company owns the intellectual property. Of course, this is subject to patents, trademarks or copyrights but if you follow the correct steps you will have no issue separating yourself in the market.
When discussing our original example, the owner of a business was tired of paying for extra features that were not applicable to their service. Licensing fees are not the only reason a business owner may considering developing new software. Maybe you are done with watching your employees struggle through work-arounds or strenuous training sessions. Sometimes software fails to convert and integrate, and sometimes it takes multiple applications to get a single job done. Or maybe all you want is a branded application, that has your logo, fonts and color schemes while adding to company culture. There is a plethora of reasons to be interested in bespoke software, and finding a reputable technology provider is the first step.