Are Custom Software Solutions for You?

Last week we analyzed the challenges faced by small and medium-sized companies when using off-the-shelf software. This week we will look into 4 major reasons why you should consider getting a custom software solution for your business. Having your own software not only enhances the way you run your company, but can also have a tremendous impact on how your customers see you, and also on the way your competitors start seeing your brand. Let’s get right to it.

Reasons why you need to get a custom software solution

1. Competitiveness

You’ve started your own business, and goal should always be focused: to grow your company. In order for this to happen, you need to stay competitive in the next 2, 3, or 5 years, and custom software will help you do that. If you choose to get your own software that fits your business needs perfectly, then your way of doing business and dealing with information will be different from the way your competitors do it. If you purchase an off-the-shelf solution, you must realize that it has been marketed to everyone in your industry, so if your competitors did not purchase the solution this year they will most probably buy it next year, which forces you to lose that competitive advantage. Focus on the features that you want a potential software of your own to have, and start thinking about how to design its development with an IT partner. Your custom software is part of your identity, so why not consider giving it your own brand look and feel?

2. Cost

Off-the-shelf software can be costly, and it often comes bloated with features you will never use. Furthermore, vendors of such software generally operate on a monthly subscription fee model, which in itself can be quite expensive for a small company in the long run. Additionally, you never know when they decide to fix bugs and to release an upgraded version. Therefore it is easier to develop simplified custom software to meet the exact needs of your company. That’s why hiring a custom software development company can be a good option.

3. Convergence

Let’s say your website isn’t connected with your CRM and you need to put a lot of effort into keeping everything straight. Now, think about a piece of custom software that will do a lot more for you than a regular CRM or ERP. I am talking about a system that will replace 2 or 3 platforms that are generally used in any business. This would help you and your team mates work efficiently, and as a bonus you won’t need to remember all those credentials.

4. Compatibility

Let’s say you are already using a piece of software that you are relatively happy with. You’ve been thinking about integrating it with something else available on the market to boost its productivity. But then you realize that the program you would like to purchase does not integrate well with the platform that has worked fine for you. Do you toss what works out the window and start spending resources to learn a brand new system? That can be costly. Instead, consider getting a custom software solution that will integrate with what you already have, and add those extra features that would make your system irreplaceable.

The list of reasons mentioned above is not exclusive. Increased security and flexibility are also among the reasons for getting a unique solution. Just think about it: custom software solutions are not a luxury, in fact you’d be pleasantly surprised by the costs of creating them. They are a necessity when there is a clear, growth-oriented business development strategy.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below, we’d like to hear more about the challenges you’ve faced by using off-the-shelf software and your experience with custom software.

Are Custom Software Solutions Your Thing?

Some small and medium-sized businesses believe that custom software solutions are not for them. They feel that big companies have all the advantages because they have funds to buy expensive IT solutions. But if you do a little research and find the right partner, it can turn out that you’ll need to pay less for a custom IT solution than you expected. Don’t forget that you can get a competitive advantage by streamlining your operations and boosting your productivity with custom software. Let’s take a look at challenges small businesses face when it comes to using software in general.

IT challenges that are faced by many small businesses

 

  • You’re using too many spreadsheets.

Let’s imagine that you have a spreadsheet or even a set of spreadsheets that you work with on a daily basis. At some point it gets pretty inconvenient, because you need to make sure that the information is up-to-date or that you don’t accidentally lose this file. On top of that, it is not user-friendly and you feel exhausted when you are done working with the list. Does this sound familiar?

You can get a small custom CRM system instead that will cover your basic needs and will allow you to focus on growing your business.

  • You are not using reminders.

One of the major worries for small businesses is to get payments from clients and to pay bills on time. A piece of custom software can solve this issue by sending notifications (to you or your clients) or by making automatic payments for services you use. You can also send your clients email or SMS reminders. By the way, sending bulk text messages is a good way to keep your customers informed about literally anything.

  • You are using too many small programs.

You are using too many tools to run your business if you need to update the information about calls, emails, payments several times on different apps to keep them in sync. As the amount of work that has to be completed increases, you need to take care of more and more details, which will eat up your precious time. This is counterproductive. Instead, get yourself a custom software that keeps all that info synchronized across platforms and focus your energy on something else.

  • You are not taking advantage of project management software.

Do you feel that in order to move forward with a project you need email your entire team at once? Then you must have also noticed a decrease in productivity when your team  members get distracted by the large flow of emails (especially if the emails do not relate to all team members copied). It is much easier (and more productive) to use a tool where you can work together on a project without spamming the whole team with messages or emails.

How to start the path to software innovation?

 

Listen carefully to what your colleagues have to say. Create a group discussion in a project management tool and track all ideas from your colleagues, and after that work to identify what your business is missing out on by not investing in custom IT solutions.

Custom software solutions are for small companies too.  You need to find the right partners and get a solution that perfectly fits your requirements. You’re in the business to grow, so think big.

Next week we will dig into reasons why a small business needs bespoke software solutions.

Meanwhile, you can read all about how easy it is to create a software development project plan.

The Fintech Transformation is Determined by Enthusiasts

There are around 4,000 registered fintech-related companies globally and their number keeps growing.

The fintech transformation stimulates the appearance of new payment providers, peer-to-peer lenders, innovative crowdfunding and trading platforms. According to Fortune magazine, $19 billion were invested into finance startups in 2015, which is a significant increase from $2 billion in 2010. These companies are changing the future of finance.

Fintech vs. Traditional Banking

Banks did not face any competition for centuries, which removed their stimulus to innovate and be transparent. Traditional banks have usually out-of-date, yet well-established IT infrastructures. This is an additional deterrent for incumbents to implementing new technologies, adapting to new customer demands and providing clients with the apps they expect to have.

Banks do not change quickly. Their established reputations force them to consider and reconsider lots of issues before moving one inch forward. If clients’ funds, or worse, their personal data (!) gets lost due to a new system, serious consequences will follow.

Even though the fintech transformation is happening quickly, banks are trying to adjust as well. Some of them are running accelerators such as the Barclays TechStars, others are opening separate divisions, for example Citigroup established its own Fintech unit. Thanks to this department that is focused on rapid prototyping, Citi plans to release a mobile-banking app with a cool facial recognition feature by the fourth quarter of 2016.

Fintechs are making it really easy and cheap to:

1. Transfer money;
2. Keep one informed about all account updates across devices;
3. Make better financial decisions through analytics, accounting, budgeting, prediction, and decision-making software.

Forbes gathered a list of the most successful fintech startups of 2015. It contains companies that deal with trading and investing, lending, payments, personal finance, currency exchange, you name it! They all stand out thanks to their brand new idea or approach that brings value to their clients. Here are some of the fintech areas in which you can open a startup:

1. B2B payments;
2. Mobile apps development for the unbanked and underbanked population;
3. Creation of social media platforms with integrated financial options;
4. Sales platforms for fintech products, etc.

It is today’s digital customers and their high expectations who push the fintech transformation on, while the trends toward the Internet of Things and Augmented Reality will only spur innovation in finance. One must only identify the areas which have been neglected and find a niche where more value can be brought. Can you think of some other areas which you feel could use a healthy dose of disruption?