Bespoke software: what it is, its advantages

What is bespoke software?

Bespoke software is custom-made software. It is developed for one client only, to solve their specific business challenges. It is the opposite of mass-market, off-the-shelf or SaaS software, which are made to cover the widest range of customers possible.

Bespoke software advantages and disadvantages

1. Bespoke software development time and cost

Bespoke software development takes time, while you can immediately buy a SaaS subscription or download and install off-the-shelf or open-source software.

The phases of bespoke software development are:

  1. Strategy
  2. Design
  3. Product development
  4. Product testing
  5. Going live

Because of this, at the beginning it is more costly than other software solutions. The price is usually determined by the amount of development time, which is calculated from requirements (all the features and specifications).

A bespoke software product is by far the best long-term solution to specific business needs and requirements.

Over time, tailor-made software will save you both time and money, because:

  • Upgrades are painless
  • No unnecessary features, only what you need
  • Safer and far more stable than other solutions
  • Best after-sales service
  • Scalability and modularity
  • No subscription or licence fees
  • Easier to learn

2. After-sales support

Non-bespoke, off-the-shelf software customer support.

Off-the-shelf software and SaaS solutions – knowledgebase

All mass-market, off-the-shelf commercial software has vast online support available for its customers. This primarily comes in the form of knowledge bases, FAQs, tutorials, videos and forums. For example, Microsoft has a huge knowledge base for its Office products. But often, advanced solutions to problems and training have a price tag attached. Many companies profit from courses and certifications tied to their software.

If you get stuck, you may attempt to reach support by phone. More often than not, this will lead you through a maze by pressing numbers on your keypad to finally reach an actual human. Frustration, anyone?

With SaaS, you will often get an automated response and your ticket will be in queue. If you have opted for an open-source solution and are seeking something specific for your business, chances are you’ll have to hire a developer for that particular technology.

Open-source software – community

Open-source software (for example: PHP, WordPress, etc.) has by far the largest and best support communities, both online and offline. There are many forums, blogs and other online communities where you will find answers to almost any concievable question. If that’s not the case, you can post your question and community members will usually answer you very quickly (Stack Overflow is a good example of this).

Moreover, there are a myriad of free plugins, extensions and other add-ons that extend the main functionality of open-source software solutions, whether it’s a CMS, web shop or some other product.

Bespoke software – best support

No other software product comes with the level of support as the one you get with a bespoke software solution.

A bespoke software development company will not only respond in the shortest possible time, but will always provide the best possible solution or upgrade. Because they know both your business and technical requirements in detail. Support is provided either via email, over the phone or meetings. You will always know the person who is your contact at the software company – you will meet them in person.

3. Maintenance and updates

— Updates? What updates?

A bespoke software product can be updated and extended seamlessly. All updates are tried and tested on the development version first, before being published. You can see and try new features for yourself before going live. This is a huge advantage.

Open-source software is the cheapest solution, but updates are rolled out often. If you do not install them regularly, you will have a security problem. For example, millions of websites run on WordPress CMS. The CMS itself has frequent updates as well as its plugins and themes. Updates can sometimes break the design or have compatibility problems with the core installation.

I remember when Microsoft redesigned the user interface of all Office products. Older users were frustrated because they couldn’t find their way around the new interface. Some smart people even sold extensions and add-ons which would install the old interface over the new one.

With bespoke software, there are no unpleasant surprises because everything is done in accordance with your requests.

4. Security

If you are serious about your business security and data protection, you should choose a bespoke software solution.

Bespoke software is the safest solution, because custom code is the most difficult to break/hack. Security is built-in right from the start and extra layers of protection can be added if needed. Furthermore, bespoke software solutions are hosted on hand-picked servers where the environment can be optimized for each individual solution to further ensure the safety of your data.

Off-the-shelf software publishers often release patches for their products because vulnerabilities show up regularly. Mass-market cloud-based solutions have frequently been hacked.

Open-source solutions are prone to attacks, because their source code and vulnerabilities are known. Again, examples like WordPress or Drupal come to mind. Because of their widespread adoption, they are frequently the target of breach attempts.

5. Connectivity, extensions, modularity

Most often, what you can’t find off-the-shelf is software that can connect the various different aspects of your business. For example, a call centre with a website and the latter with a CRM.

There are some mainstream software products which can integrate with other services – like the marketing solution HubSpot, for example. WordPress has thousands of plugins which will add the functionality to your website in just a few minutes. Most are free, but the commercial ones usually come at a small price. So, these solutions are definitely more affordable than a tailor-made one.

But what if you need a third component tied to the first two? Only custom-made software can solve this. Because different solutions from different providers can have updates that come with compatibility problems.

Business growth can be unpredictable. New ideas and opportunities can unexpectedly show up. Custom-made software can always integrate these new needs and requirements into your overall business picture.

6. Learning curve

Each bespoke digital product is a new thing, but the learning curve isn’t steep. The user interface is made to respond to your business requirements. So you already know the terrain. A big advantage is that there are no unnecessary interface elements or software features. No cluttered interfaces, menus with endless options. Just what you need – clear, simple and intuitive.

Conclusion – do you need a bespoke software solution?

If you are a small business, go open source until you grow. There is no sense in buying custom stuff at the beginning – invest your money in marketing and sales to build your client base first.

Once your business is stable, you can think of investing in a bespoke software solution. Because in time, you will need to optimize your processes. This is digital transformation, which is best done through bespoke software.

At Flipkod, we act as bespoke software consultants and developers.

Contact us now for a free consulting session.

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