Many business owners, especially SME owners, seem to struggle deciding the right software category for their business. There are a number of reasons why this decision is difficult to make. First, let’s see the factors, based on which organizations and companies choose a software category.
Critical Factors for Choosing a Software Category
Although we have listed down the generic and most important factors below, these factors may vary from business to business.
- Adaptability of the software
- Cost of software development
- Time required for software development
- Ease of use/ Interface
- Flexibility in terms of expansion of the features
- Technology used
Once you know the factors that decide which category of software to choose, let’s have a look at the commonly available categories.
Common Software Categories
Generally, there are three main categories into which all types of software fall. These categories are separated from each other based on the above factors. And here they are:
- Turnkey Software
- Software Platforms
- Custom Software
Our focus will remain on the custom software because of its increased demand and utilization in businesses. However, the other two are also discussed briefly.
1. Turnkey Software
The name says it all – it’s just like you have to ‘turn your key’ and it’s ready to go. Turnkey software products are ready-made programs and require minimal configuration. Ideally, you begin with learning to use the software and identify any functional gaps in it. Once those gaps are identified, you then fulfill them with external support.
This external support may either be manual and spontaneous or by use of spreadsheets and other complementary software.
2. Software Platforms
Platform-based software programs are part turnkey and part custom software. They come with moderate to little customization options while at the same time, ready to use. Although they are better in flexibility and configuration than turnkey software, their upfront cost and the time required for the first run make them a difficult choice.
In many business settings, it has been observed that business owners like to either go with turnkey programs or directly switch to custom software.
“Why should I pay more, wait more, and still not get a tailored solution?”
On the other hand, businesses that directly choose a platform-based software rather than turnkey in their first run, end up using it for ages. Since you outgrow a turnkey program quite early, you can get overwhelmed with the additional support with them. This leads to going for custom software.
3. Custom Software
If you are already running a business and realize that now your productivity relies on the arrival of custom software, you may need to plan it well. A simple reason for that is the time required for custom software to be ready. Because once you opt for custom software, there is hardly any going back.
Custom software is a permanent and long-term solution. It comes with all the features you need for running your day-to-day operations and achieving long-term goals as well. The best part about custom software is that there is unlimited flexibility in terms of adding more features.
That means, even if you did not plan it for long-term goals, you can do it later when needed. There are numerous benefits of custom software when it comes to usability and enhancements, that we are going to discuss under the advantages section.
Need for a Custom Software
As we already discussed the fact that custom software reduces the effort of additional support, the real question is if you need one. Here is a checklist for making sure if your business needs custom software:
- The solution to your unique business situation doesn’t seem to exist in the market
- You are reluctant to experimentation with turnkey and platform software
- You lack the time for the above-mentioned experimentation
- You want to own the software
- Your new product/service is SaaS-based
- You want an overall personalized feel to match your company standards.
There may be of course more points to check depending on the business model you have. But for a start, these check-points are enough to shortlist the software category.
Advantages of Custom Software Development
- Unlimited flexibility in terms of design, functionality, features, and enhancements.
- Lower runtime costs.
- No need for the per-user license.
- An opportunity to create a productive asset for your business.
Along with the many advantages, there may be a downside of custom software development.
Disadvantages or Factors limiting the choice of Custom Software Development
More than the disadvantages, the following list contains the factors that may limit you from selecting the custom software programs.
- Large upfront payment in order to initiate the custom software development.
- Significant wait time before the software is finally developed and ready to be integrated.
- Maintenance and upkeeping of the custom software after its development.
Once you know all the advantages and disadvantages of custom software, it’s time for you to decide whether you want it developed by a custom software development company or a freelancer.
Software Development Company or Freelancer?
This choice can be heavily influenced by the budget you have for custom software development. If you think you will run out of the business without acquiring one but also lack enough capital, you may go with a freelancer.
But if there is no financial restriction and you want things to be up and running in the business, then ideally, software development companies are the best. Both freelance software developers and companies provide custom software development services, but the results may be very different.
This certainly doesn’t mean that all the freelance software developers are scamming people out there.
The differentiating factors are resources, professionalism, and guaranteed results.
Summing it up
Turnkey software programs are the best when your business doesn’t heavily rely on the usage of certain type of software. They are also great when time and money are limited constraints for you.
A medium solution is platform-based software. These programs are more flexible than the turnkey programs but certainly much more limited than custom software. Also, you may have to arrange some training workshops for the employees for the platform software.
Finally, Custom software programs – you need to make a big investment here. But the results are much better in the long run and bring unlimited flexibility in terms of functionality, enhancements, design, and features.
Whether you choose to go with custom software or not, we can assure you that one day when your business starts to outgrow your expectations, you will definitely need one.