Why have custom software developed?

We live in an age where mass production is the norm. Tailor-made is not really in fashion. Our consumer society needs everything to happen quickly. We don't have time to wait to get what we want. If what we are looking for is not on the store shelf, we immediately go elsewhere to find it. Who today has made-to-measure clothes? If you do, it must be because you have special needs.

Even in the real estate industry, tailor-made is no longer in fashion. I live in an old neighborhood where all the houses are radically different from each other. The new neighborhoods that are developing today are “populated” with almost identical houses. I have friends who live in such neighborhoods, and I can only find their home by checking the address or looking for a little distinguishing feature such as their car or a basketball hoop in front of the house.

Are their housing needs also the same? I do not believe. I believe they accept compromises. Does your business have the same software needs as everyone else? Do you compromise?

Application software vs operating systems

There are two main types of software: operating systems and application software. The operating system is the part of the software that runs when the computer starts up and takes care of all the basic functions. Known operating systems are Windows for PCs and Mac OS for Apple computers. They serve as a starting point for installing and running application software such as Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), Internet browsers (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, etc.) and games.

Why do I feel the need to tell you all about this? All of the software I have listed is in the field of mass software. This is software that is purchased as is and is the same for everyone. These software have their place since they perform general tasks which are the same for almost all areas (eg: text editing). When the time comes to manage your more specific needs, this software quickly reaches its limit. You have to look elsewhere.

Make operations profitable with tailor-made software

When we talk about custom software, we are talking about application software developed according to specific needs. These programs are often unique or comparable to others, but have unique aspects. The goal of using software to accomplish a task is of course to increase the profitability of the process.

Using the software should require less effort than the manual process. Which brings me to the two categories of software that can increase profitability: software that generates or increases income and those that reduce expenses. Ultimately, if software can do both at the same time, it will be that much more profitable.

Increase revenue using custom software

There are many ways you can use software to increase your business's income. Basically, there is all online sales software. These allow you to gain access to an ever-growing market of buyers. By exhibiting your products online, you can make the decision and purchase process easier. In this category, there is software that I call "semi-ready-to-use".

They mainly provide basic functions like product, inventory, purchasing and buyer management. Often these functions are developed very briefly and generally. It is possible that such software will cover a good part of your needs, but there will most likely be gaps to be filled. I will tell you further about the possibilities in this area ...

Reduce expenses with custom software

In the industrial field, it is necessary to automate processes to increase productivity. Whether it is to automate an assembly line or to optimize a representative's route, software has become a necessity.

By reducing downtime or increasing the speed of execution, they help reduce the costs of producing and delivering your product. In the area of ​​cost reduction, there is also all the internal management software: personnel management, quality control, process monitoring, management report, etc.

Download our white paper 5 Tips for Building Affordable Custom Software.

Determine your needs

Software exists to fill a gap. It is very important to clearly define your needs, which will guide the development of the software so that it fills this gap.

If I want to fill the space under the stairs to add storage, I can go buy one or more pieces of furniture and try to reduce the loss of space or I can have a custom storage unit made. It is possible that I will arrive at a functional solution with the furniture for sale on the market. However, it is certain that I will have a better solution if I have it developed to measure. The same goes for custom software development. The software on the market is there to meet the most common needs based on standard contexts.

As for custom software, they allow a better arrangement with their environment. Even though there is software on the market that meets your needs, it will surely offer several features that you don't need and that will make it difficult to use the features you want. In return, tailor-made software will give you the functionality you need precisely. Hence the idea of ​​clearly identifying your needs. The beauty of custom software is that you can always add new features to it.

So, even if your needs are not completely defined at the start of the project, it is still possible to start developing your custom software. If its development is well directed, you will be able to participate in its design and add or modify functionalities, and this, throughout the project.

Today, "Agile" software development methods see change as an integral part of the software design process. These methods use short cycles and seek quick feedback to adjust development along the way. This way of doing development keeps the focus on what is most valuable now.

A range of possibilities

In the software world, there is a whole range of possibilities, from software purchased as is to software designed and developed completely to measure. I present you an overview below.

Ready-to-use software

These software are those found on the shelves of shops. We think of Microsoft Office, Photoshop, Sage, etc. This software took hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of development to provide all the functionality it offers today.

If anyone today embarks on designing a bespoke text editor, I'm sure they'll never pay off their investment. This responsibility should be left to companies that already have this type of software. So out-of-the-box software will always have a place in the software ecosystem.

Software integration

As good as it is, out-of-the-box software is limited by the breadth of its functionality. On the other hand, most of these software allow, in one way or another, some integration. For example, if we take the Office suite; it is possible to use Word to compose a letter and to integrate a list of names contained in an Excel spreadsheet to it to make a personalized mail merge in the name of the recipient.

Software integration features allow them to focus on their strengths and build on those of others. The integration of two software can usually be done without special development. However, sometimes it makes sense to use custom development to facilitate and automate the integration.

Adding plugins to existing software

Extensibility is a feature that some software offers. It is the ability to add external functionality to the software by incorporating them into it as if they were part of it. These extension modules ( add-ins ) are installed automatically, because they are included in the software. Microsoft Office has several extension modules (eg: one which allows you to draw mind maps, another which gives access to a dictionary directly from Word).

Software adaptation

Some of the most advanced software go so far as to allow them to use their functionalities to get them to do other things. This is the case, for example, with the Microsoft Dynamics platform. It offers an array of software that can be used as a foundation to make it something truly tailored to your needs.

Among other things, Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides a basis for managing the relationship with your customers, your products and your sales. Although the basic functionality is sufficient in most cases, it is still possible to modify the data structure and operation to cover aspects that are not covered.

Completely tailor-made

At the other end of the spectrum, there is completely bespoke development. This solution is often used by companies who see a competitive advantage in having their own software. It is also used in very specific fields where there is little or no choice among ready-to-use software.

Financial institutions, insurers and manufacturing companies often use this type of software for a variety of reasons. The savings, increased productivity and the presence of their brand image in the market justify their investment in custom software.


Having custom software developed is not an adventure to be taken lightly. There are many advantages, but also obstacles to overcome or better to avoid. Before making this choice, make sure you understand your needs and choose a reliable partner who will accompany you through the process.

Don't just ask for an end result. Take the time to talk about your real basic needs. Too often, I receive requests from customers who offer to develop their solution. Every time I bring them back to their basic needs. And often the final solution is very different from what they thought they wanted, but it has the merit of meeting their real needs.

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