Are you fed up with the frustrations of off-the-shelf business software? Are you tired of spending money on different software products, only to find that they don’t offer the kinds of features and functions that your team needs to succeed?
If you’re tired of dealing with these struggles, creating your own custom business software could be a perfect solution for you and everyone on your team.
Not sure how to create custom software? Read on to learn more about the various stages of business software development and how you can create one for your company.
Why Create Your Own Business Software?
There are lots of reasons to invest in custom business software instead of buying an off-the-shelf solution. Here are some of the greatest advantages a custom product has to offer:
One of the biggest benefits of custom software is that the software is — you guessed it — customized to your specific business and its needs.
Instead of having to adjust your business processes and workflows to accommodate an off-the-shelf software, you can use software that is tailor-made to your processes and workflows.
When you opt for custom-made business software, you can pick and choose all of the features you want and ignore the ones you don’t.
This ensures that you get as much use out of your software as possible. You and your team also won’t have to waste time learning features and tools that aren’t relevant to your business.
Long-Term Cost Savings
Some business owners might be hesitant about creating custom business software because of the higher upfront costs. Custom software will indeed be more expensive in the beginning compared to an off-the-shelf solution. In the long run, though, paying for a custom product could actually save you more money.
Think about it this way. Let’s say you buy an off-the-shelf project management tool to help your team stay organized, track progress, and meet deadlines. However, after a few months, you find that this tool doesn’t offer all the features that your team needs to be successful, so you pay more money for a different product, only to find that it also isn’t as effective as you’d like.
By the time you spend money on several different software products, you may have spent just as much as — if not more than — you would have if you’d just paid for a custom product designed specifically for your team in the first place.
Increased Productivity and Performance
When your team has access to software that is specially designed for them, their needs, and their goals, you’re likely going to see an uptick in productivity and performance.
If you want your team members to perform at the highest level, you need to give them the right tools. Buying custom software makes it easier for your team to accomplish various tasks, avoid obstacles, and be more productive. This, in turn, will lead to better performance and more profitability for your business.
Long-Term Maintenance and Support
Often, when you use off-the-shelf business software products, your maintenance and support options are fairly limited.
You may have access to a customer service line, for example, if you run into problems or have questions. However, it may take a while to get in touch with an actual human being, or you may have a harder time finding solutions to the problems you’re facing.
With custom software, on the other hand, you typically have access to a much more robust support system. Furthermore, the team that created your software will also have extensive knowledge of how it works and how to fix any issues that come your way.
With custom software, you also can enjoy long-term assistance. As a result, you can rest easy knowing that your software will always be maintained and updated as needed.
Custom software is typically more secure and less vulnerable to hacking and data breaches than off-the-shelf software.
When it comes to off-the-shelf products that are being used by a wide range of businesses, hackers have more incentive to try and infiltrate them.
On the other hand, because your organization is the only one using a custom-developed software solution, there is less of a reason to try to break in. It will also be harder for hackers to access valuable data since the software has been created for your business and your business alone.
It’s generally easier for businesses to scale when they use custom business software compared to off-the-shelf solutions.
With off-the-shelf software, you only have so many options as your team grows and you start to experience new demands. With custom software, though, it’s often easier for developers to make updates to your product and ensure it grows with your business.
Don’t waste money on off-the-shelf products that hold your team back. Instead, it’s better to spend your money on a product that sets your team up for long-term growth and success.
Benefits of Working with a Software Development Agency
You might be hesitant about investing in custom software because you don’t have the skills or tools necessary to create such a product. The good news is that there are lots of software development agencies with team members who do have those skills and tools.
Why should you work with a software development agency instead of hiring a freelance developer? Here are some specific benefits you can enjoy when you partner with an experienced and reputable software development agency to create your company’s business software:
Experience, Skills, and Manpower
When you work with a development agency, you gain access to years of experience and a lot of valuable software development (as well as website and app development) skills.
There are plenty of skilled freelance developers out there, of course, but they aren’t always up-to-speed on the latest tools and techniques. Because development agencies have more resources, their team members usually do have those things and can use them to create better products for your business.
Furthermore, most development agencies have a lot more manpower than one freelance developer can provide. An agency will have the capacity to handle your software developments needs as well as those of other clients. They’ll be able to manage their time better and meet deadlines, whereas freelance developers might struggle more with these issues.
Agility and Project Management
The best software development companies work in agile environments with a focus on collaboration and cross-functionality. This approach encourages maximum efficiency, productivity, and quality. All of this, in turn, will lead to a better-finished product and higher satisfaction for you and your team.
A good software development agency will also have robust project management processes in place. They will know how to juggle multiple projects at once and ensure everything gets done on time and to your exact specifications.
The developers will stay in touch with you throughout the software development process, too. That way, you can provide feedback along the way and make sure you’re happy with each stage of the product before the team moves on to the next one.
Robust Quality Assurance Processes
Speaking of making sure you’re happy with your software, software development agencies typically have more thorough quality assurance processes in place.
Software development agencies have team members who are specifically in charge of making sure programs work properly and don’t have any bugs before they’re launched.
A freelance developer, on the other hand, typically has to handle everything related to quality assurance on their own. This may cause them to let things slip through the cracks. It can also slow down their production timeline and cause it to take longer before you get the finished product.
Save Time and Money
You might be tempted to work with a freelance software developer instead of an agency because you want to save money. However, you may end up saving more money long-term if you work with a developer.
The reasoning for this is similar to the reason why you can save money with custom business software compared to an off-the-shelf product.
If you work with a freelancer and get a subpar software product, you may end up having to spend more money to get it fixed and working the way you and your team want and need it to. On the flip side, if you work with an agency and get a high-quality product the first time around, you won’t have to continue spending money to make improvements.
Furthermore, working with a development agency can also help you to save time. Development agencies have the skills and manpower needed to create products efficiently — while still prioritizing quality. Freelancers may take longer to complete your project, especially if they’re juggling many other clients at the same time.
Various Financing Options
Keep in mind, too, that many software development agencies also offer financing options.
You may not have to pay for the entire cost of the software upfront. Instead, you can split the cost up over several months to make it more affordable.
As a bonus, we even offer interest-free financing to make our services even more accessible.
What to Expect When Creating Business Software
If you’ve never worked with a software development agency, it’s understandable that you might be unsure of what to expect. Every agency has a slightly different process, but the following stages are some of the stages you can expect to go through:
1. Research and Mockups
The first stage of the software development process involves conducting research and creating mockups.
In general, the research process for software development agencies involves doing a deep dive into the client’s target audience, their needs, and the specific problems they face.
If you’re looking to create custom business software for your team, the software development agency will research to learn more about your team and what they need out of a particular software program to do their jobs effectively.
For example, do they need special document management features? Are they struggling to communicate because everyone works remotely?
After the development team has a thorough understanding of what your team needs from its business software, they’ll get to work creating mockups for you to review.
Mockups are static renderings of the software. They provide insight into what it will look like and how your team will use it.
It’s also important to note the difference between mockups and prototypes.
A mockup is a visual design that helps you better understand the visual elements of the general functionality of the software. A prototype is an interactive version of the software that helps you see more clearly how it will look and how it can be used.
2. Backend Development
If you’re satisfied with the research the developer has done and the mockups they’ve created, they’ll move on to the next stage of the software development process: Backend development.
Backend development is also known as server-side development. It involves all of the behind-the-scenes work that makes your software function properly. This includes writing code, writing APIs, working on data architecture, and more.
Backend developers play an essential role in creating high-performing, highly functional software products, apps, websites, and more. If your agency does not have a good backend development strategy, you may end up with software that’s full of bugs or doesn’t perform exactly as your team wants and needs.
The best backend developers have an extensive understanding of popular coding languages, including the following:
- .NET (C#, VB)
In addition to understanding the differences between these different coding languages, the team should also be able to provide insight into which one is the right fit for your business’s particular software needs.
3. Frontend Development
After the backend development process comes frontend development. Frontend development is also known as client-side development. It involves the creation of all the software elements that the user — in this case, you and your team members — sees and interacts with.
Frontend developers play an important role in making sure the software looks good and is easy to navigate. In addition to understanding various coding and scripting practices, frontend developers must also understand design principles and know how to create something visually appealing and highly functional.
An effective frontend development team will have a thorough understanding of coding languages like:
As is the case with the backend development team, the best fit for your company will be one that not only knows these different coding languages, but also knows which one is the right fit for your business and your team’s needs.
4. Quality Assurance
Once the frontend and backend processes are complete, your software will go through a rigorous quality assurance process.
The most skilled software developers will go above and beyond to make sure your software not only looks the way you want it to look but also functions properly and helps your team meet its specific goals.
During the quality assurance process, the development team will test all aspects of your software. They will look at every single feature to ensure it works properly. They will also test out the navigability of the software and make sure you and your team members will be able to find their way around it with ease.
If the team notices any bugs during the quality assurance process, they will go back to the drawing board and address them so that your software is as functional as possible on launch day.
Speaking of launch day, this is the final stage of the software creation process when you work with a development agency. Once everything has been tested and shown to be effective, your software will be ready for you and your team to use.
When you work with a skilled development agency, they won’t just launch your business software and leave you and your team to your own devices. They will provide training to make sure everyone is on the same page and knows how to use it.
Part of the launch will also include collecting feedback from your team regarding the new software.
You and your team will offer insight into how the software works, how easy it is to navigate, whether or not it makes their jobs easier, etc. The development agency can then take this information and use it to make future iterations of the software better.
How to Choose a Software Development Agency
The key to enjoying all the benefits of creating custom business software is partnering with a software development agency. Here are some tips that can help you choose the best agency for the job:
Get a Referral
Getting referrals can make it easier for you to sift through all the different developers out there and create a shortlist of potential candidates.
Do you know of another business owner that has recently paid for custom software development?
If so, get in touch with them and find out which agency they worked with. Ask them, too, if they were happy with that agency’s services and whether or not they’d recommend them to someone else.
Check Out Their Services
Once you’ve created a shortlist of potential developers to create your business software, do some research and look at each developer’s website.
What kinds of services do they offer? Can they help with software development, app development, or website development? Do they regularly work with businesses like yours?
Learning the answers to questions like that will help you decide whether or not each developer is a good fit for you and your team’s needs.
Look at Samples of Their Work
Most reputable developers also have portfolios or samples of their work on their websites.
Take a look at these samples to get an idea of the types of products the developer has created in the past. Pay special attention to the past work they’ve done with clients whose businesses are similar to yours.
This will help you decide whether or not their development style and processes align with your team’s needs and goals.
Be sure to read reviews from past clients, too. This is especially important if you aren’t able to get a referral from someone you know.
Reading reviews gives you a chance to see what previous clients have to say about the development agency’s work and the quality of their service.
When looking for reviews, check out third-party sites like Yelp or Google Reviews if possible. This will give you a more objective look into what the agency has to offer and whether or not it’s a good fit for you.
Find Out About Financing
If you have concerns about the cost of custom business software development, be sure to look into each agency’s financing options.
Do they offer interest-free financing? Do they offer payment plans to help make the cost of custom software development more manageable?
Many development agencies offer financing information on their websites for easy access. If you don’t see anything, though, don’t assume it’s not an option. You may still be able to finance the project, you’ll just have to ask the developers directly.
Schedule a Consultation
One way to ask directly about financing and other elements of the development process is to schedule a consultation. This gives you a chance to get to know the development team better while also learning about their experience and the way they work.
You can also get a quote at this time, too. When you do this, you’ll find out how much it’ll cost if you decide to hire this particular development agency.
Start Your Business Software Development Journey Today
Are you ready to move forward with creating your own business software? Keep the information discussed above in mind and you’ll have a much easier time choosing the right agency, navigating the software development process, and more.
If you want to partner with an agency that checks all of your boxes, reach out to us at Alpha Bravo Development today to get a quote or learn more about what we can do for your company.