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The 9 Most Overlooked Features in Custom Software Products

Custom software products provide a solution to a specific problem that the customer needs to address.

Custom software products provide a solution to a specific problem that the customer needs to address.

While these custom solutions have many benefits –  greater functionality and optimized features – they often fail to meet customer expectations because of an oversight by either the developer or the client.

Because every business is different, so are their specific needs for a product. Sometimes those features go unnoticed during development due to a lack of proper communication between the two parties.

Custom Software Products are often over-thought or under-thought. It is straightforward for a developer to get caught up in the technical aspects of creating an application without considering all the features that should be included.

The customer may tend to focus only on the goals of their project, not considering how it will need to fit into their current infrastructure or any possible future needs they may find.

On the other side, customers often need to pay more attention to common limitations associated with custom software products, which can lead to disappointment when certain features cannot be implemented within the initial scope of work.

A combination of these issues can cause final products to fall short sometimes by failing to meet customer expectations even after so much effort that custom software developers put in.

Here are the nine most overlooked features in custom software products.


1. Security/Scalability

Typically, many custom applications are developed with only one user in mind or even a specific group of users. Companies using these products to scale will need to make changes to their product, which can take time and money.

Often what seems like a simple request from the client can take months of development if not done correctly. This issue is often overlooked because clients know what they want but need help understanding how that might affect future requests down the road by other employees within the company.

2. Customization

Every business is different. What works for one person or company may only sometimes work for another, making customization a considerable part of custom software development. Many clients need to realize the amount of work that goes into this portion of application development and often underestimate the time involved in implementing requests they may have. This issue can go both ways. Some companies feel that allowing customers access to their product’s codebase will result in other customers copying their products. They want complete control over the products, limiting the number of people who can use them, thus limiting their potential audience.

3. Multiple Platforms/Multiple Environments

This feature is often overlooked because businesses often only need support for one operating system or web browser. Often the client’s server is not compatible with many different types of software, especially open-source solutions that can run on multiple platforms and not be prone to viruses like most commercial software. A lack of compatibility between an internal network and the outside world also causes issues when providing support for a product. Because it often requires access to their server, which is blocked by their firewall.

4. Data Migration

Many custom applications rely on specific data structures and how they interact with one another for data to flow correctly within their environment. If information needs to be shared from the old application to the new one, this process may need extra help if specific fields are mapped during development with poor planning. Many companies must realize how complex the data migration process can be and often underestimate its complexities.

5. Vendor/Customer Relationship

This is one of the most overlooked features because many customers assume custom software companies are there to help them implement their product or solve any issues they might have. The problem with this is that it puts more of a financial burden on the developers than what was initially discussed during their initial agreement. Customers should not expect to receive unlimited phone calls or e-mails for support, but instead, put some extra funds into an escrow account for future requests which need to be addressed outside the scope of the original work.

6. Included Maintenance

The biggest maintenance issue is that clients only understand its cost after it has happened. By then, many custom software companies had closed their doors or moved on to other projects. Custom applications almost always need maintenance outside the scope of what was implemented during development to keep up with changing demands. Often clients need to remember this feature because it only affects them once they are faced with a situation where their product no longer works properly. After all, the developer has stopped supporting it.

7. Training/Documentation

Many companies assume that after an application has been released, their employees can figure out how to use it without training. This often leads to extra time being spent by different employees just trying to learn the new tool’s ins and outs, which should have already been documented once development was completed. Companies need to realize there is a cost associated with training, which isn’t free; instead, they should allocate some extra funds into an escrow account during the initial agreement to cover this feature.

8. Custom Applications Are Intended to Grow

One of the most significant issues in custom software development is that clients believe its scope will remain static throughout its lifespan when it rarely happens. Clients often underestimate the time and money involved in creating a product because they need to realize how much work goes into each new addition or bug fix. Instead, like maintenance, they should allocate some extra funds for any requests outside the scope of what was initially included when development began to alleviate these issues down the road.

9. Infrastructure

Custom Software needs proper infrastructure to maintain it over its lifetime, including version control, change management, and quality assurance testing. Failure to have this in place creates custom software products that aren’t secure or reliable because changes or updates cannot be tested adequately before being released into production systems which can lead to costly downtime & security breaches. Clients need to understand that these processes take time but greatly benefit their overall product life cycle so they are not constantly having support issues with their Custom Software Products.

Final Thoughts

These are just some of the many overlooked features of Custom Software products that are often not considered. If all of these things were considered, the final product would have a much higher chance of success than being viewed as a complete failure by stakeholders involved in the development and acquisition process.

Customs Software developers need to understand their customers’ goals for a project so they can best serve them. Developers need to know what they are building, why they are building it, and who will be using it (and how). Any other requirements are required to design and create products people will operate regularly and successfully.

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