Originally I shared this article to Syndicode blog, software development company I work in. Over the years, Syndicode’s team has been accumulating expertise in building custom software products and solutions. On the base of gathered knowledge Syndicode can provide a detailed custom software development consulting. And I decided to share some basics of it with you.
Engineering mindset is never been as useful as while developing custom software.
What is custom development?
Сustom software development is the process of creating a software that is specifically tailored for the specific group of users or an organization. Custom software (aka ‘bespoke software’ or ‘tailor-made software’) is made to ensure that all your particular requirements are met.
An interesting fact that custom software is usually a legacy software, developed before commercial software or free software packages offering the required functionality became available. It was developed before off-the-shelf solutions gained its popularity for the mass software market.
Let’s make the difference between custom software development and generic software development clear by contrasting both in my material Custom software development vs. Generic software development.
Custom software development accommodates a particular customer’s preferences and expectations. That is why it is considered more efficient. Sometimes, of course, more expensive, but the benefits it might bring are really worth it.
What custom software development is used for?
There are not only software solutions to tailor. From Syndicode’s experience, talking about modern custom development, startups and enterprises usually hire dedicated teams for:
- Software Development - yes, it prevails. The company I work in is developing web and mobile apps with Ruby on Rails, Phyton, React, PHP, Node, Android and iOS. We grade our software engineers to developer, lead developer and architect levels with respect to their experience, technical and management leadership.
- Design - this is the second niche companies search for a custom solution. For example, Syndicode provides UI/UX designers who can do everything from the logo and brand identity elements to the all-inclusive web or mobile interface or interactive ads. To be clear, our UI/UX designers can provide a brand identity from scratch, mind-blowing visual designs and attractive websites and mobile apps. Check my UI/UX design guide where I collected all the gathered knowledge on this topic.
- Management - to make sure everything is going the right way. For example, we always assign an account manager but can take on a project without any technical person from the client's side. In such case, you will get Product Manager or even CTO-consulting if needed.
Later in this material, you’ll find the example of the list of software products that are usually developed by Syndicode on a custom basis.
What nuances are to consider in a custom software development?
Apart from all the pieces of information you gather with the help of a Discovery Session, there are some hidden risks you need to know about:
- Issues that are not mentioned in the original requirement specifications - no one will tell you about them unless you will explore them yourself getting deeper into the client’s working process and industry.
- The access to core business data - it’s unlikely the client would be glad to share with you this information. In case you develop custom software to adjust the business, finance or HR processes inside the enterprise, you will need deeper knowledge. For example, when you’re developing functions or software related to:
- Critical functions,
- Inventory management,
- Customer management,
- Human resources management,
- Content management.
- NDA. Both the client and the custom software development provider should be very attentive here. Sometimes this document is pretty standard. But when it comes to working with inner information, you have to be very attentive and careful reading and signing a non-disclosure agreement.
Also, there are several other non-functional requirements that will be needed to discuss:
- Network availability;
- Maintenance costs;
- Access points;
- Architectural support;
- Payment processing;
- Security solutions;
- CDN (content delivery network);
- Access to tools.
These requirements and custom software development challenges will eventually influence your custom software development tech stack.
Taking into account all those nuances, you might come to the understanding that a custom software development is an iterative process that goes through custom software development process stages to implement all the required features and reach the desired result.
In real-world conditions, there will be tens of people you contact and collaborate from the client’s side to develop bespoke software. Like who? Like business owners, representatives of development, research and marketing departments, general management and jurisconsults.
Why custom software development?
The part about the pros of the exclusive software should be clear. Custom software is aimed to produce the most efficient system as it can provide support for the specific needs of the business. Along with better efficiency and customer service. That is not available in most off-the-shelf solutions.
Custom software development for startups or enterprises, as it is provided by skilled developers, helps you fulfill your business requirements with the ever-changing trends and evolving technology. Because professionals know what tech stack is the most efficient nowadays. But you are not attached to a certain technology. Functions on the first place.
Also, if you need to improve something, custom software development approach is here to give you the best or most well-targeted service improvement. But let’s narrow down all the pros to the bullet-pointed list.
Сustom software development pros:
- You get what you need. The business can have exactly what its customers want (not a package of everything available on the market that caters for a generic market). Only important features. Custom software development solutions tailored according to your specific needs.
- Custom software can be very flexible. It is constructed by software professionals that can implement functionality for a wide range of business needs. Yes, custom software engineering is usually a task for dedicated teams with the proper experience, background, and skills.
- The best features within budget. Like for getting exactly what you need, here you pay exactly for what you get. No expenses on the functions you might never use (just because they’re included in the package). The concrete list of the requirements and well-defined budget.
- Custom tech stack. It gives you the ability to get any output you want. All possible integrations and features. Your developers’ team choose the tech stack depending on your priorities.
- Minimized information security risks. You and only you are the owner of your software. And there are only two sides who have access to the information - you and your custom software development team. If some security information was unveiled without your permission - you know whom to ask and how to stop it.
- On-demand updates and fixes. When you ask for custom development you are able to update or improve your custom software functionality anytime you need it.
- Customized reports of specific events. In simple words, custom software development gives you the opportunity to save your time (and your devs) and resources. Get a feature only when you need it, and get a report only of specific metrics and events. Nobody spends time on things that are not needed. Brilliant!
Drawbacks of custom software development
Nobody says it is easy. Nobody says there are no risks and cons. Custom software development is definitely worth it but before you start you have to consider the drawbacks to avoid some factors cause them.
Custom software development disadvantages
- Comparatively slow development timeline. Custom software development process might take up to several months (even years, if we talk about something very complicated and large-scale at the same time). Unlike for off-the-shelf solutions, here you have to work with hundreds of important details should be considered and refined. Everything should be checked to avoid business-critical errors. So even the best custom software development companies will warn you about possible delays in production.
- Comparatively high development cost. This makes custom software usually unfeasible for small businesses. Here you have to expect the maintenance cost also to be higher (because of the custom features and tech stack). But for big enterprises, these higher costs might be insignificant compared to the bigger cost savings in the future thanks to this ‘small’ efficiency increase. Talking about maintenance and support, custom software also might be going through a revision after some period of time, and some new needs can be identified. Then, additional improvements can take more costs and time to be implemented. Off-the-shelf software can offer a lower price because the cost is being distributed among different users.
- The addiction to a certain software development company. This can happen because of the complexity and some peculiarities a custom software might get during the development process. It can be very effective and work properly, but according to its tech specifications (and NDA sometimes), not many other companies, except the one that has been working on the project from the beginning, can jump in and update/support/maintain the custom product. So it’s much easier to ask for help the same custom software development provider you have already been working with before.
Despite the drawbacks, custom software development still remains more effective and reliable than all off-the-shelf solutions in terms of quality. But, only in case, you found a reliable and skilled software development partner!
Why do you need custom software development?
Mass-market software is often not able to meet the demands of modern management and business processes. That’s why many companies would like their software to have some unique features.
The list of requirements for every business is different. Just because every business is unique. While your needs are covered by some existing solutions, you have nothing to worry about. But when you face some requirements that can’t be implemented/fixed or fulfilled with the help of software that is already presented on the market… Then you go for custom software development.
Moreover, you could have heard by now, that large software projects cannot handle all three of the scope: time, cost and quality constantly. There’s always some degree of uncertainty. And for custom software development too.
Factors to consider custom software development
To sum up, the decision to build custom software or go for some off-the-shelf solution implementation would usually rest on one or more of the following factors:
- Budget. Custom software development is not a cheap one. You have to go through cost-benefit analysis to understand if this features (or soft) you want to implement are really vital, and what they will bring to your business.
- The complexity of the solution. Are the needed functions/features available among readymade solutions on the market? If they are presented on there, they’re not a part of a package, and there is no customization needed - take what is already exist. If there is no even similar solution - ask for custom software development.
Software development partner.
When you are looking for a company to provide your business with a custom software development, take the following criteria into account:
- Experience = at least several years of successful work. Any custom software development service needs a lot of practice.
- Portfolio and reputation = see what they can do and read reviews/testimonials from previous clients.
- Developers’ team size = the complete team should provide all your needs.
- Technology and innovation in the core.
- Experience of distributed teams = if your team work remote or you travel while the project in development.
- Time to market. As far as every process and reporting in custom software development goes with its own way to reach the unique standards, it takes time. And the development timeline goes longer.
But the last point shouldn’t stop you from ordering custom software. Unique solutions are what winning today’s market, and to rich the success you have to show something others can’t.
Find inspiring examples of the success stories for custom software solutions!
The example of custom software by Syndicode. What does the agency I work in build?
Syndicode is in custom software development since 2014 and. We provide complex custom software development services for different industries. Basically, by offering custom software development we can also mean:
- Develop software from scratch (actually, that is exactly the same as custom software development);
- Design IT infrastructure architecture;
- Integrate into a currently running project (our experience allows our full-stack developers to jump in and help you despite the fact that we haven’t created the original version);
- Run tests to assure the quality of a product;
- Move legacy system to a new platform;
- Provide maintenance.
We provide managed custom software development services in web and mobile engineering.
- Web development - Websites, web apps, PWA, online marketplaces;
- Mobile development - iOS and Android mobile applications;
- Design - UI/UX design, brand identity, visual design, website and mobile application design;
- Infrastructure - Microservices, hosting, CI/CD.
Talking about products, Syndicode provides the next custom services and software development:
- Web applications
- iOS and Android mobile applications
The hardest task in custom software development is to see the devil in the details and make it perfect every time.
There are four things you should pay your attention to when choosing your custom software development partner:
- Experience and trained experts that come only with a dedicated development team.
- The company should provide scalable services.
- To provide an efficient level of flexibility and security, your custom software development agency should work with cloud-based services.
- The chosen software development company should better use Agile methodologies.
The other additional requirements are:
- Your devs should be curious about technology. It is important that the developers can adapt to the changes in technology.
- They should be independent. They should not depend on others to complete the assigned task. A well-documented code is the first priority. That way each member of the team knows the progress of the code and can take over at any time.
- Dedicated developers will always ensure that the code is bug-free and provide great value to users. Testing! Testing! Testing!
- Skilled developers know best practices by heart. TDD (test-driven development), refactoring, SCRUM, and CI (continuous integration), just to name a few. They must know the pros and cons of utilizing different technologies.
- Open line of communication. Devs team should be composed of specialists who can communicate well with others. Make sure that there is no misinterpretation or miscommunication when it comes to the requirements of the project.
- Strategy and analysis in the core. Each member of the developers' team should be a strategic thinker. Before we support innovation, we should understand its pros and cons and the way it will affect the product in a long-term perspective.
- Distributed teams’ should work efficiently. Whether the client is far away, and a part of the team works from the other side of the globe, the development methodology should be scaled for the enterprise and adapted for distributed teams, guarantee that there will be no unexpected accidents and pitfalls.
For example, Syndicode's seasoned software development team carefully guide any project starting from proof-of-concept prototype through the minimum viable product to release and post-release support.
Starting from strategic outsourcing if you are not sure what are your business needs exactly, to concrete managed services for particular purposes - software development engineers should take care of it. That's the core of custom software development.
To add, Syndicode is a Ukrainian company. If you haven’t heard about huge prospects of working with Ukrainian specialists, read why to hire dedicated teams for custom software development in Ukraine.
Custom software development tech stack
Bringing to life technologically advanced, well-performing and robust software solutions cost a lot of skills, dedication, and passion.
Custom software solutions should be:
- Fully integrated with your business;
- Following user-centered design;
- Having flexible architecture;
- Easy to use, and
- Taking advantage of the software you are currently using.
How all that possible? First - a multi-platform approach, that ensures full responsiveness, Secondly - a seamless experience for the end-users regardless of the type of device or platform they are using.
Depending on the project requirements gathered during the discovery session, there should be used different technologies. For example...
Custom web development
Considering the project's purpose, web development tech stack includes a variety of languages and technologies. In Syndicode's experience:
- We use Ruby on Rails backend development for most websites, online marketplaces and web apps. This is our framework of choice. We provide custom software Ruby on Rails development services since 2014.
- We use Node.js for backend development of real-time applications, chat apps, workforce and facility management apps, web portals and field service apps.
- For general website development and server-side scripting, as well as supporting PHP-based content management systems such as Wordpress, Drupal, etc. we use PHP. One of the strongest and most significant features in PHP is its support for a wide range of databases.
- React.js is one of our favorite technologies to develop fast, scalable and simple user interfaces. We use it for stock trading and e-commerce solutions, web-based video conference apps, and other frontend services. React allows developers to create large web apps that can change data, without reloading the page.
Custom mobile development
- iOS and Android smartphones,
- Android tablets, and
- Apple Watch.
Syndicode's mobile development tech stack includes different languages and technologies:
- We use Ruby on Rails for mobile backends and RESTful APIs.
- When there’s no need for heavy effects or computations we use React Native. This technology is beneficial for marketplaces and CRM, or projects where you need just to duplicate what you have on the web and add some geofencing, notifications, and other mobile features.
- For native development of iOS applications, we use Swift.
- The same story with Android SDK - we choose it in cases when features could be implemented only in native tech stack.
- Also, when it’s required by a customer, we work with Python, Node.js, and PHP.
This type of custom software development service is very popular nowadays. To get your web or mobile app ready and accessible to testers or final users, you will need to deploy it to the cloud or a server. When seeking to deploy apps, most people encounter a variety of problems starting from choosing the way to deploy among the number of available. But the qualified professionals will ensure that all the parameters and functionalities are tested after deployment for users have no complaints.
For example, full-stack engineers of Syndicode provide:
- CI/CD (continuous integration, continuous delivery).
We use the next cloud platforms:
- GCP (Google Cloud Platform),
- Microsoft Azure.
As you could read in my comprehensive UI/UX design guide, there’s no great web or mobile app without appealing design and usability. Visual communication with your customers must be simple, intuitive and engaging. Trend following designers must know how to focus on the business needs of your project, and deliver you only exclusive and conversion design.
From user research to information architect and from prototypes and mockups to colors and typography - they should be in charge of your outstanding design.
- UI/UX design;
- Brand identity;
- Visual design;
- Website and web app design;
- Mobile design.
The main digital design tools to name:
- Adobe XD
In the end, it is worth to say that custom software development is a hard path as for developer and as for the client. But all the efforts you will put wisely will bring you more.
Thank you for reading!