Custom software is software designed for a specific business or business requirement. Custom software varies from off-the-shelf software in one specific way. Where off-the-shelf software is designed for a mass market, custom software is focused on a niche.
Off-the-shelf software is created to appeal to the largest audience possible. While this generally means it offers many features that a business might require, often specific elements are missing. Time and again, specific processes or tools that organizations have developed or used over time simply do not work with off-the-shelf software. A custom software solution can certainly fill these gaps.
Where and how do you start?
Before even approaching a software developer, it’s critical to have an idea. This idea does not have to be detailed but it should address a specific gap that you are trying to fill. It could be something as simple as enabling two different systems to communicate. Conversely, it could be completely unique.
Once you’ve determined what you want to build and why then you can start looking for a partner. You need an organization that can understand your vision. One that can translate that vision into reality.
These experts can help you articulate the details about what you intend to do. They can also help identify your target market and how your product will be best utilized.
By working in partnership, they can learn the right tools to help you succeed.
The Purpose of the Project
With an understanding of a project's purpose, it is possible to move to the next step. Here developers can further analyze your objective and more importantly plan how to convert that idea into reality.
Developers will work with you to scope out the project in detail. This includes specific milestones that must be achieved and also the tools they will use. By understanding your target market, they can help evaluate whether they should be focusing on mobile technologies or not.
In addition to the tools, resources are assigned as software developers are only part of the puzzle. Complex projects also require project managers and other resources.
As your meetings progress, you will fill out a software requirements specification (SRS) record. This ensures that both parties agree on the objectives and goals.
Every project requires a budget. Now it is time for the developing organization to realize what they are going to make and what they have to choose in regards to how to proceed.
During the planning phase mentioned earlier, resources and tools will be considered. These are key components in a budget.
Another component however is time. Software development is not an instantaneous process and requires time and dedication. This time needs to be accounted for accurately.
A budget helps the software firm determine what and who can be assigned to a project. For example, a smaller development budget might mean that junior developers get assigned to a project. As their skills are not as strong, this could mean that projects take longer to deploy. In the long run, this might end up costing more money than paying for skilled resources upfront.
Similarly, clients often miss the value of project management staff and consider these employees an additional cost. In reality, by ensuring projects are kept on track, project managers have a massive positive impact.
This stage is the longest one as the project is being built and created. Considering your needs, the custom software solution takes its very own time to be made ready for the final output.
However, the development time is not the only time you should consider. It’s important to allocate quality control time in any software project. Releasing a product that has not been tested is a recipe for failure.
When it comes to timeframe, software projects generally fall into two different camps. The older style of development is known as waterfall. Here, projects are scoped out in the early stages and the customer only sees the final finished project. This often means for larger projects that rework is needed as technologies and requirements have changed.
The alternative to waterfall is agile. In the agile methodology, projects are split into smaller components. Each phase - called a sprint - has specific deliverables. Clients can provide feedback as the project progresses, which helps make them more effective and efficient.
A project or program is not limited to just the function. It also needs to have a clean and usable interface. This is where user acceptance testing (UAT) and user experience design (UX Design) come into play.
Quality testing focuses on the underlying function and whether the product does what it is meant to. Similar to quality testing, UAT and UX are focused more on the user's point of view. Are the buttons in the right place, do the menus make sense, is the overall look and feel appealing or not.
If a software project meets the initial requirements, it might still not be successful. It’s key to realize that those requirements were determined at a specific point in time. As technologies and user requirements change, the project itself might no longer be viable.
It’s simple to say that a project is successful if it makes money, but that is not accurate. The success of a project can be quickly measured through its application and effectiveness. Does it do what it was meant to and does it fulfill a gap in the market?
If a project accomplishes a specific function and also provides users with a clean and usable interface, that is a recipe for success.
When it comes to translating your custom software idea into the real world, we are your partners of choice. At Konverge, we understand and use the latest tools and technologies. Our teams of developers and project managers are fully focused on agile methodologies ensuring you get regular effective communication and updates on your custom software solution.
We have experience and knowledge of the software cycle for clients both small and large. Let us help you transform your next big idea into a project the world needs.