Tag Archives: Custom software solutions

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.