Custom software applications or apps are bespoke computer programs that are designed for a particular function, user or set of users. Unlike commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS) that target a wide range of requirements, custom applications are directed at a defined set.
Because these bespoke applications are made with only a set of functions and users in mind, they cannot be marketed commercially, as they may not be applied in many other instances. As a result, obtaining them can be expensive, and businesses only do so when they are certain that their operations would be better off with them.
Bespoke applications or computer programs aren’t developed any differently from commercially sold one; they follow the traditional process of gathering requirements, coding, implementation, and testing. They may be created by a team of in-house developers or out-sourced if the company doesn’t have the necessary resources for the project. Visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commercial_off-the-shelf to learn more about COTS.
There are three key efforts involved in developing custom programs, they are:
- Application modernization: This involves updating and upgrading an existing business’s custom application to meet modern standards and evolving user demands.
- Application customization: The practice of modifying COTS applications to meet specific user requirements.
- Application management: Typically involves optimizing computer programs to support maintenance tasks like installation, updating, and other service desk functions.
How Do I Know When I Need a Custom Application?
Many business owners look for various ways to ease their mode of operation while maintaining profits. This should not come as surprise to anyone since ease of operation is the key to scaling a profitable business.
When it comes to business expansion, business owners these days try to automate as many processes as possible that can be automated. This way, operations can still go on even after workers have closed for the day. For instance, a retail store that has successfully integrated a retail software solution can accept and process customer orders while closed for the day.
When the store opens in the morning, all the received and processed orders are immediately sent out for delivery. When innovative steps like this are taken, businesses are able to turn in tremendous amounts of profits. Click here to learn more about business process automation.
As a business owner, you’ll know you need a custom app for your business when COTS seem no longer to help in efficient running of day-to-day operations. Once this is noticed, you should pen down the features the current app you’re using lacks that would be helpful to your business, and those features that can be improved upon. With these, approaching a developer to explain your needs will be much easier and less time-consuming.
Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) vs Custom Apps
As mentioned earlier, COTS apps are of generic build and are aimed towards satisfying a wider market of users. Many of their features can be used across board for various functions. Relative to custom built apps, these applications are cheap and as the name implies, can be obtained for off-the-shelf prices. Typical examples of COTS apps are Microsoft PowerPoint, Slack, Zoom, and so on. Because these apps can be used by a large market of users, they can be sold commercially.
Custom apps as have been established are built with specific functions and users in mind. Usually, they integrate seamlessly into the users’ operations since they are designed with them in mind. Functions and features are usually limited to individual requirements unlike COTS apps that encompass a wide range of functions and features in order to serve the larger market.
As with many other bespoke products, custom apps often cost more than their all-encompassing counterparts since, they cannot be used by any other than the user it was customed built for.
Benefits of Custom Software Applications
There are several benefits that come with using custom software applications as opposed to COTS. A few of them include:
In some cases, a commercial off-the-shelf app will not work for a business with many complex operations. In these cases, scaling the business may become difficult as the right software meant to ease operations isn’t available. With custom built apps developed to seamlessly integrate with and ease business operations, scaling a business becomes easier and less risky.
No doubt, this is one of the main reasons business opt for bespoke applications. With the help of careful planning with the team of developers, businesses are able to solve specific problems with applications designed just for the purpose.
Unlike COTS apps that are entirely out of your control, bespoke apps are incredibly reliable since they will run as long as your company does. When using generic software, there is always that possibility that the developing company may decide to stop updating the app or in a worse case scenario, go bankrupt. In such an event, businesses that have relied on that product are left standing in the middle of the run.
Although there are so many benefits that you stand to enjoy from running your business on a custom-built app, using one may not be necessary. As mentioned earlier, you should be certain your business needs it to run efficiently before developing one, since they can be really expensive.