Category Archives: Computer Software

Custom Software Solutions

Custom Software Solutions

When businesses need to solve a technology problem, most of the time their first thought is to try to find an off-the-shelf solution rather than getting custom software solutions.

The thinking, of course, is that off-the-shelf software costs less, carries less risk, and still provides most of the advantages of custom software solutions. There are a couple of reasons why this thinking isn’t always right:

Myth – Off-The-Shelf Always Costs Less than a Custom Software Solutions

With modern rapid application development, custom software developers have more tools than ever before. They can write software much more rapidly, with far fewer errors, at a much lower cost than they could just a decade ago.  At the same time, many off-the-shelf products were built decades ago, using older technologies, and have yet to be re-written.

This means that it is very expensive for vendors to maintain these products which means they need to charge their customers a ton of money.  It’s not unusual to see off-the-shelf enterprise software products costing $3,000 a month or more, just for license fees.

When you look at what it costs us to design a custom software solutions for our customers (which often can be for less than $10,000 total for the whole project), those costs start to seem ludicrous.

It is also imperative to remember that when you buy something off-the-shelf, you’re paying for 100% of the features in that product.  But what if you only need 30% of those features?  It is often much more cost effective to build a custom software solutions that provides just the features you need instead of paying for the ones you don’t.

Myth – Off-The-Shelf is Less Risky than Custom Software Solutions

While it might seem logical to think that buying an off-the-shelf product is less risky than building something yourself, that isn’t always the case.  We hear countless stories from companies that bought products that didn’t work as expected. Most of them don’t realize their mistake until it’s much too late, and once they discover there are key features missing from their product, months or years later, they can’t make changes to the product themselves.  This leaves their entire business at the mercy of the product developer.

What if on the next version of the software they take away the features that are important to you, or can’t move fast enough to add the ones you really need?

Myth – Off-The-Shelf Software Has All the Advantages of Custom Software Solutions

With an off-the-shelf solution, what you’re really buying is the minimum that will be acceptable and usable to the greatest number of customers.

But what if the features you need (to make your business really competitive and compelling) aren’t what your competitors want?  And even if they do want it, why would you want to share your business model innovations with all your competitors?

What you should be doing is innovating and building on your company’s unique value proposition, which should be reflected in the software you use to run your business.

The Bottom Line

Well-designed custom software solutions will always outperform a generic off-the shelf solution. Your upfront costs will likely be higher, but in the long run you’ll save a lot of money through increased performance and lower maintenance costs. Custom software solutions has the added advantage that you only pay for the features you really need, while avoiding paying for all the features you don’t. Custom software solutions also protect your company’s proprietary secrets and help you maintain competitive advantage. Finally, custom software solutions give you more control, YOU decide when upgrades occur and YOU decide what features stay and what features go.

What is the minimum project size that you will accept?

Custom Software Projects

Virtually Live Software Inc. is a small company, so we don’t sneer at small projects. Over the last 17 years our project portfolio has built up to cover a wide range of clients – from big, fortune 500, to small one-man operations. To us, project’s ability to excite us is what matters, not whether it is considered “small” by other companies. Not to mention, happy clients sometimes grow and they can tell their friends…


What are the risks of developing custom software?

Custom Software Solutions

Like every business undertaking, software development has its own set of risks. Recognizing and dealing with risk is a normal and essential aspect of business and of creating software.

Although each project has unique risks, here are some of the typical types of risks encountered in software development:

  • Software does not fit the needs of the users
  • Poor performance
  • Development cost exceeds the value of expected benefits
  • Software not ready in time to meet critical need
  • Unreliable or buggy software
  • Too difficult to use, non-intuitive, requires training
  • Cost of ongoing support greater than expected

These kinds of risk are handled in two basic ways.

First, the whole reason for project management and development methodologies disciplines is to facilitate successful outcomes without falling victim to these risks.

Secondly, each project has its own distinctive set of risks, which should be addressed from the start of the project. The risk plan should identify these risks and define how they will be evaluated and avoided.

If risks are identified in the beginning, steps can be taken to avoid potential problems.


What are the steps in creating a custom software application for my business?

Custom Software

  • Analyse your business’s needs and determine the objectives of your custom software system
  • Designing a software solution based on the results of the analysis and objectives
  • Building the software in line with customer-approved milestones
  • Testing the software in your work environment
  • Delivering and training of your custom software


How does my business benefit from using custom software?

Custom Software

There are at least four major ways your business benefits from using custom software:

•Increasing efficiency by eliminating routine activities from individuals, freeing them to deal with tasks where human attention is required.

•Reducing the risk of human errors from routine manual tasks.

•Cutting office costs by eliminating unneeded paperwork and manual administration.

•Provide real time data information on your business by automating business processes.

Custom software is designed for the way you do business.

How do I know that my business needs custom software?

Custom Software

You know that you need custom software when:

  • You re-enter the same, or similar data into multiple software programs
  • you have a slow response to customers and business needs where data could have be supplied automatically by a software system

  • You send regular notifications to your clients manually

  • You do tedious calculations on regular intervals to get information out of your business system

Custom software can greatly streamline your operation making your business more effective and efficient freeing up time to doing manual tasks that can’t be automated.

Cloud Computing: Access your data anytime and anywhere

Is it time to upgrade? The cloud allows us to access company data anytime and anywhere. Are desktop applications dead? Well not yet. We are still building desktop software programs but there is a lot of discussion to moving desktop software to the cloud. Sure we have to worry about data breaches but more and more companies want to be able to run their software programs from anywhere at anytime which the cloud does nicely. Do you want your employees to have access wherever they are? How about your customers, do you want them to have access anywhere at anytime? And it is not just about anytime and anywhere it is also about any device. Another nice thing about the cloud is you always have the latest version of the software, no more rolling out software or some employees causing grief because they did not upgrade when they were supposed to. Is it time for you to move to the cloud?


Software Designed For the Way You Do Business

Why the Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Poorer

There is a video out on the web by Tony Robbins where he explains why the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

It is all about taking action. The rich take action to be rich and the poor feel they never will be rich, so they either don’t try, or they try with the attitude that it doesn’t matter (they won’t be able to do it anyway) and sure enough they don’t.

The four components to making something happen, whether it is shooting a basket or growing a profitable business is: Belief, Potential, Action, and Results.

You must believe that you can do it. This taps into greater use of your potential, allowing you to take positive action, which leads to positive results, which enforces the belief that you can do it, which allows you to use even more of your potential, which…

You have to have the potential or skill to do the action. You may think that you can do it and when you try, you may succeed and that will reinforce your belief that you can do it. On the other hand, you may think that you can’t do it and when you try, you may fail and that will reinforce your belief that you cannot do it.  This is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So let’s get rich!

You are starting out on the journey to grow your business. You can’t change your own potential, but you can acquire potential from somewhere else (more about that later). Hopefully you have already taken some action, and that has given you some positive results. So this has your belief system thinking it is possible. Remember, if you think it is not possible, you are right, it won’t happen.

So what are you going to do?

You must believe that you can do it. You must condition yourself that you’re certain you are going to succeed.

Potential. You need to maximize your abilities, and you have to take action to acquire more potential for things that you are lacking, to make it happen. Your belief dictates how much of your potential you can use.

Take action. One action you may need to take is to acquire a proper marketing and management software and web system. This would provide the means for your business to grow as fast and as big as possible. You may need to raise capital. You may need a coach to help you make great decisions. You may need to update your skills or take a course. You may need to call The Business Solution. Whatever action you need to take to reach your goals, just do it. No action = no results.

Now let’s see some results. Whether you are shooting a basket or growing your business, the result you get is based on how much of your potential was used doing the action. The more potential you use, the greater the action taken, which maximizes your results.

Believe. Maximize Potential. Take Action. See Results.

To your riches!

To watch the video that I referred to, go to:

Software Designed for the Way You Do Business


Supply Chain Management – The First Link

To make sure we are all agreed on the definition of Supply Chain Management (SCM), Wikipedia defines Supply Chain Management as: “the management of a network of interconnected businesses involved in the ultimate provision of product and service packages required by end customers (Harland, 1996). Supply Chain Management spans all movement and storage of raw materials, work-in-process inventory, and finished goods from point of origin to point of consumption (supply chain).”

Another definition is provided by the APICS Dictionary when it defines SCM as “the design, planning, execution, control, and monitoring of supply chain activities with the objective of creating net value, building a competitive infrastructure, leveraging worldwide logistics, synchronizing supply with demand, and measuring performance globally.”

Supply Chain

Let’s look at an example. We have two companies, one company that sells widgets to the public in a retail outlet which we will call Retail. The other company supplies the widget, let’s call that company Supplier.

Retail needs to make sure that it has enough product on the shelf to sell. To save money and to ensure that they don’t get stuck with product they can’t sell, Retail does not want to have too much inventory on hand. On the other hand, if Retail runs out of product, their customers could go somewhere else to purchase it. Supplier needs Retail to be happy and purchase product from them. Supplier could have a normal non-managed relationship with Retail and hope for the best or Supplier could try to work out a managed relationship with Retail (Supply Chain Management). If Supplier and Retail can both work together on a system that maximizes the best interest of both of them, they both win.

To manage the movement of product from Supplier to Retail, they will set up a system where Retail can easily order product on short notice from Supplier. Supplier will know the inventory level of product at Retail so that Supplier can ensure it has enough inventory on hand to fill Retail’s order for more product. Now they could just call back and forth informing each other of their inventory on hand and when they think they will need more, or they could have a software/web system that links Supplier to Retail (a chain) so both can see in real time how things are going.


Instead of judgement calls, using business intelligence in their software system, patterns and trends can be seen so that both businesses can make better decisions. At certain inventory levels, orders can be place automatically. Because of the integrated system between Supplier and Retail, Supplier will have reduced administrative cost in servicing Retail, which will allow Supplier to pass the savings on to Retail which will only make the long term relationship between Supplier and Retail even stronger (stronger chain).


Bottom line:  Product is available when the customer comes in to purchase it, Retail does not need to carry excessive inventory, Supplier who has a close relationship with Retail can maximize its sales to Retail and does not worry that Retail will switch to another Supplier to get product because of the win/win relationship they have both built. Stay tuned for the next issue where I will discuss Supply Chain Management: The Next Link.

Software Designed For the Way You Do Business


Sell Locally Around the World: the Global Market is Your Local Market

Technology removes boundaries and creates a level playing field

At one time buying local meant looking at the label to see where it was manufactured. You went into the store up the street and you supported your local economy. However things have changed. Parts can be manufactured all over the world then assembled locally. We live in a global world where your neighbor might be China.

With technology, websites, and 1-800 numbers, the lines get blurry as to who is local and who is not. Buy local: do we mean made in Niagara or made in Canada? It is getting harder and harder to know if you are truly buying local. If you go to the local variety store and buy an item made in Taiwan, is that local?

You can use technology and the internet to sell your products globally and treat the whole world as your local market. It is easy enough to set up offices around the world, yet answer the phone locally. You can have warehouses worldwide that you never step foot in. Sitting in your Niagara office you can manage global orders and ship from a warehouse that is in the customers’ local market.With technology it is easy to have one system for your whole business that is administered locally but you have satellite offices all over the world that are linked in real time.

Websites shopping carts tied into order and shipping systems can process orders 24/7 even though you only run one day shift Monday thru Friday. It now appears you are working in the same time since your system replies to your customer’s inquiry and processes their order all through automation.

Shipping companies can ship overnight (or in a day or two) across the world in the same amount of time your order can come from up the street.   It is important that your system handles local and global customers seamlessly. Customers like buying locally and with your new business structure you are local all over the world.

So if you can appeal to your local customers and global customers you can greatly increase your sales. When one market is down, you have another market that is hot: You are local to all these markets. When they say buy local, global customers are buying from you!

Software Designed For the Way You Do Business