Our world changes rapidly and to be able to stay competitive and attractive, businesses need to adapt to new trends or else risk staying behind. To quickly deconstruct the title, we should first clarify what is meant by small businesses and custom software. What has considered a small business varies significantly for different countries? For instance, in the UK, a small company would consist of 50 employees or less, has a turnover of £10.2 million or less and £5.1 million or less on its balance sheet (two of these must apply). The US Small Business Administration (SBA) sees things differently and specifies a small business as one with max. 1500 employees and a maximum of $38.5 million in average annual receipts with definitions varying further for specific industries.
What is Custom Software?
As we can see, small enterprises differ from one another in many criteria. Though what do small businesses have in common? All of them have unique pain points, have different business growth strategies and goal orientations. Thus, to achieve their desired KPIs, they need specific solutions. From my experience working in a bespoke software development company, I realized that each individual business truly needs unique solutions to adequately address its business requirements and create space for growth.
Off-the-shelf software solutions with their one-size-fits-all features often fail to deliver the necessary value small businesses need because of their built-in features that your business may not ever use. In comparison, bespoke software development allows you to fully design your software depending on what your business opts for now and in the long run. Changes or maintenance can be made faster than if you go with traditional software options, which gives you unlimited scaling possibilities. But what is probably the most important benefit of building your software is that you have complete ownership and control over what happens next.
How Can Custom Software Benefit Your Small Business?
If you as a business owner also face the “build or buy” dilemma when deciding to automate business processes in your own company, here are some advantages of custom development and how it can benefit your company:
Create One Integrated System
Choosing to build your own software comes with the great advantage that you will enjoy one whole integrated system in the end. Instead of having scattered pieces of information on multiple applications, bespoke software allows you to integrate precisely the features you need into a cohesive system. Traditional off-the-shelf software integrations come with several restrictions regarding third-party applications like payment gateways, analytic tools, heat map plugins, etc. Still, with custom software, the options and possible combinations are practically limitless. Furthermore, bespoke software solutions come with the perk that it works with existing and legacy applications, making it so much more convenient for data and process migration.
Your Business Information and Processes Remain Private
When you go with the option of custom software development, all your business information remains only visible within your company. Bespoke software is built for niche purposes to serve particular businesses which makes it more secure. This means that whatever happens inside your company, such as existing data, processes, apps stay there intact and private. It is often the case that off-the-shelf software is more vulnerable to attacks because of its widespread usage and hackers’ familiarity with its weak spots.
Helps You Improve Business Efficiencies And Reduce Operational Costs
One of the crucial benefits of building your own bespoke software for your business is that you make a long-term investment that will be cost-effective by reducing operational costs significantly over time. Instead of paying for a license for off-the-shelf software once or twice a year and being an end-user, you can rely on your custom-made solution that fits your small business budget. For example, an HR system will benefit the talent acquisition and onboarding processes in your firm, while saving HR specialists precious time and energy. These types of software are easily scalable, meaning they can be modified as the business grows.
Have Summarized Reports
Having access to all your data reports in a neat format is necessary for every small business. It can drastically reduce the time for resource planning, new financial strategies, and already achieved business outcomes. Perhaps everyone will agree that spending hours searching for the right reports in excel sheets or docs is both a daunting and time-consuming task that one would instead prefer to avoid. When you have customized business software at your disposal, you can receive summarised instant reports with all desired input (e.g. specific functionality, purchase details or clients invoices, etc.) with immediate essential insights about crucial business objectives.
Minimal Training to Learn How to Use it
When your business relies on bespoke software solutions, you can benefit from simpler and minimal training required for its adoption and usage. Usually, when it comes to traditional ready-to-use software, there is the initial familiarisation with the program before actual exploitation can start. One of the biggest perks of working with smaller software development companies is that their team becomes part of your team. You develop the software together, so when it is finally ready, you know every feature of the solution, so training may even become altogether obsolete. Plus, your vending partner can react quicker than the technical support of traditional off-the-shelf solutions to assist you if any issues arise.
Tools You Can Use
For your small business to run smoothly, communication within different teams as well as with clients is of key importance. Depending on your company’s nature and industry specifications, you can install a messaging or email app or a platform for multiple purposes like video conference options with built-in push notifications. When you have your software developed to fit your needs, all necessary functions can be designed so that they suit your business size and preferences.
CRM is short for Customer Relationship Management and is vital for every business. That is why having a tailor-made solution will serve you better than off-the-shelf solutions that have core functionalities but lack the opportunity to provide individual business depth. There are numerous types of CRM software serving multiple purposes. For instance, a general CRM tool will help you keep oversight of and organize contracts and deals. An inbound CRM proves itself useful for managing your inbound marketing efforts with specific sales and marketing options. In the long run, a CRM tool contributes to higher productivity and reduces operational costs.
Finance and Accounting Software
For your small business to run smoothly, it requires adequate finance and accounting software. Those are used to manage cash flow, run a payroll, calculate taxes and store other financial documents - all in one place and suitable for your unique business needs. It is expected that almost all financial transactions in the future will be made online, and paper documents may cease to be relevant. Until then, making a step further in direction automation and electronic financial operations is a good start point that saves both time, costs and reduces the chances of human errors.