As companies outgrow office space, expand teams, and offer more services to their customers, the ready-made software solutions that power business operations tend to become a hindrance to growth. That one-size-fits-all CRM no longer tracks all the details your sales team needs, the payroll software contains far too many manual processes, and the analytics tool is now too thin to deal with your massive amounts of transaction data. Most executives will begin to ask, “Does my business need custom software development?” At this juncture, taking a hard look at your business operations – and how they can be improved – is imperative.
After identifying the operations that need optimization, custom software development becomes a sensible consideration for most businesses. After all, time is money! And while custom software development is a big investment, the ROI – the true business impact that leads to growth – can be staggering.
“You can’t solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.” – Albert Einstein
Here are some of the ways custom software development helps businesses grow beyond the plateau imposed by stagnant processes and ready-made software:
1. Optimize and Eliminate Manual Processes
Many of today’s most well-established businesses, including Apple, American Airlines, and Target, all have something in common; they’ve been around for decades! With this in mind, it’s obvious that these companies had to innovate their way through hundreds of processes, dozens of times, to remain on top. No need to speak to another human or get out of your pajamas to book your next flight to The Bahamas! We’ve innovated WAY beyond those prehistoric inconveniences. Chances are, there are plenty of manual processes plaguing your business that custom software can fix, too.
Consider this example: You own a logistics company that receives cars shipped to the United States from Europe. Land Rover, Audi, BMW… you name it! You receive half a million cars each year and distribute them to dealers in 48 states. Rather than asking your receiving team to walk around with clipboards and document all the vehicle VIN numbers that come through your receiving dock by hand, you develop a custom software solution that works on tablet devices. Now, your employees can simply walk up to a car, scan the VIN, and see exactly which 18-wheeler it needs to be loaded onto, where it’s going, and when it’s due at the dealership. To sweeten the deal, they slap tiny stickers equipped with RFID tags on each vehicle, enabling you to provide real-time delivery tracking to every dealership you serve.
Suddenly, your manual processes – which carried a high degree of human error – are, poof, gone! Your company reduces the time from reception to delivery by 28% and saves thousands of man-hours and dollars each quarter. Dealerships report much higher satisfaction rates and you become the go-to logistics company in the automotive industry. Rinse and repeat!
2. Condense Multiple Tools Into One Software Solution
Many of the companies that approach 7T share the common headache of completing dozens of tasks in multiple software platforms – individual solutions for payroll, enterprise resource planning, custom relationship management, analytics, and more. Each solution has a unique (and usually cumbersome) user interface and virtually NONE of them work together. It’s like the worst high school volleyball team you’ve ever encountered, but instead of bickering on the court, they’re wreaking havoc on the inner-workings of your business.
By identifying all of the contention points, creating a requirements document, and speaking to a reputable software development firm, you can create a plan to condense all of these time-wasting “solutions” into one platform built specifically for your business. By doing this, you outfit your team with the tool they need to produce results, from cost-savings and increased efficiency to enhanced revenue generation. Say goodbye to training employees to use ten solutions; you only have one!
3. Greater Customization and Flexibility Over Ready-Made Software
One of the biggest reasons companies end up with so many separate, out-of-the-box solutions is because none of them do enough. Usually, a single solution will only solve a couple of problems, leaving you to piecemeal together an entire suite to meet your needs.
With a custom software solution, you have full control over the functionalities, all the way down to the aesthetics. If you want to produce a platform that handles payroll and PTO, tracks shipments, provides an internal messaging platform and offers competitive trivia on NBC’s popular mockumentary, The Office, you can do that! Now, this analogy is not intended to disparage the power of custom software, but emphasize the complete customizability available … and keep you awake as you read about software development.
4. Custom Software Provides Superior Scalability for Your Business
When your business processes are tied to several different platforms, it’s difficult to break free from the limitations imposed by each one. By developing a custom software solution, you open your business to do more, more efficiently, for years to come.
Two ways that custom software makes this flexibility possible is through 1) system integrations and 2) cloud hosting. By leveraging system integration – or tying your disparate, formerly incompatible systems together through custom software development – and hosting your solution in the cloud, your business becomes empowered to achieve beyond its current limits. Cloud hosting your own solution can lead to impressive cost savings, especially when you consider all of the storage plans and annual costs behind your current systems (Salesforce, Hubspot, Mailchimp, Quickbooks, Shopify, BigCommerce, ShipHero, etc.).
A singular platform hosted in your own, well-managed cloud server (usually powered by Amazon AWS or a similar platform) also gives you greater control over security protocols and the data sources readily available for business analytics.
5. Streamline Data Consumption, Management and Analytics
Readily available data sources bring us to our next point: When you’re managing your business operations with several ready-made software solutions, you’re left to extract the data from each source and funnel it into yet another platform for business analytics at regular intervals. When you build a custom software solution that condenses these operations into one, you can automate the data consumption, management and governance processes.
At 7T, it’s common for us to build Sertics – our data lake creation and management tool – directly into our clients’ platforms. This allows them to leverage data from various sources across their organization in real-time, while pairing it with third-party data sources. The tool automatically cleanses and standardizes the data, so there’s no need to hire data scientists, developers, or DevOps professionals to write SQL commands or make sense of the results. Instead, analytics are served up with built-in data visualizations. And, to make life even easier, the tool integrates with Tableau and PowerBI effortlessly.
Adding advanced analytics to your custom solution is one of the final and most important parts of a software development project. By doing so, you set your business up to benefit from deeper, more accurate insights for significantly improved business decision making.
So, does your business need custom software development?
With these 5 major benefits in mind, it’s time to analyze your business and determine if custom software makes sense for you. If your goal is continued growth and greater revenue, the answer is probably a resounding “yes.” And, if you’re not sure, our team is available to answer any questions you may have about the custom software development process. For more information, reach out to 7T today!