Bespoke software is a custom, tailor-made piece of software (typically a web application), that meets the specific needs of a client.
The importance of a bespoke approach
When you’re planning the vision and mission of your company, it’s unique; when you recruit new team members you hand-pick talent and skill. Your approach to software and business systems should also be bespoke.
This is a step which often gets overlooked. Businesses opt for off-the-shelf solutions that promise to be all things to all business users. However, this one-size-fits-all approach can have limited success. A business system should be re-designed or built with the specific business’s end goals in mind: solving these should act as the starting point for any developer team.
It’s this kind of bespoke approach to software development that’ll allow a business to be agile, flexible and scalable. But what exactly is bespoke software development? How does this approach to building, upgrading and maintaining applications and IT systems enable a business’s success in these three core areas? We’ve addressed some of the most commonly-asked questions about bespoke software development. Want to find out more? Get in touch.
What is bespoke software development?
Bespoke software is a custom, tailor-made piece of software (typically a web application), that meets the specific needs of a client. Automation should feature prominently in any new business system build, reducing the need for manual tasks and freeing up your team to pursue – and enjoy! – value-add tasks. Automation should run in every process possible, and the system should be fully fit-for-purpose with your company processes.
We recently worked with a fulfilment company, for instance, that wanted to replace its legacy tech with a cloud-based business system. Instead of opting for a vendor whose products claim to be all things to all companies, the firm opted for a bespoke approach. AppDrawn developed the entire software solution, which brought together the company’s fleet and job tracking system, payments system and accountancy provider.
We began by identifying and exploring the challenges the client was facing and designed the system in response, developing and testing to ensure different specs were met as the project progressed. Tailoring the system’s feature set to the client resulted in significant efficiencies and has allowed the firm to scale its business.
Bespoke software development doesn’t just apply to large-scale, comprehensive business management systems. The same approach can be taken to creating mobile apps, web platforms, customer-facing portals etc.
How does bespoke software development differ from off-the-shelf solutions?
Off-the-shelf software is created to solve generic problems and appeal – and function for – the masses. Think of the kind of programmes you might use on a day-today basis: Word, Excel, your Outlook inbox. While these give you the basics, the options to customise for your specific needs are limited.
Off-the-shelf solutions may seem easier to deploy in the short term. They can be cheaper initially than bespoke software development, for instance. However, the lower upfront costs are often a screen for additional spend further down the line. Once vendors make a sale, they’ve got you hooked! Businesses are often laden with contracts for subscription fees for a product they’re not able to adapt and develop in line with their business growth and changing roadmap. If software adaptations are required it’ll often involve a costly overhaul of the system, or substantial fees from the vendor. The result – businesses lack the critical ability to be agile and adapt to market and customer demands.
Why is bespoke better than off-the-shelf?
Bespoke software is built with your business for your business. It will integrate with existing processes and operations, and can be further customised to suit the requirements of your organisation – providing the ultimate in flexibility. You can also benefit from tax relief associated with developing and innovating your business software processes. We work closely with clients to support with applications to HMRC, saving your company time and money for your software development project.
Support doesn’t stop there. Getting your team up and running with an off-the-shelf solution might involve watching a webinar and troubleshooting with an online FAQ. In contrast, our approach to bespoke software development means we work alongside our clients, training every team member to use and benefit from the solution. Crucially, by getting to know our clients and their business, we make sure that the user experience is seamlessly integrated with employee’s existing workflows.
Is bespoke software just for start-ups?
Short answer: no! The evidence can be found in our wide-ranging client base: from the entrepreneur and keen water skier looking to build an app for fellow sports lovers, to a traffic management solution used by thousands of business users in the road management sector across the UK.
Our consultancy begins with the client’s challenges and needs – regardless of the size of the business or its stage of maturity. We have experience both in overseeing the evolution of existing systems and developing new business interfaces from scratch. The results are similar: our client’s businesses are agile, flexible, and scalable, thanks to their reliance on robust technology. It’s the diversity of these development projects and the success of each that are a real testament to opting for bespoke over off-the-shelf.