A group of developers talking

What is Bespoke Software and How Does It Work?

Cameron Kennerly

November 27, 2020 · 4 minutes

If you’ve heard of the term bespoke software you might be asking yourself “what is it?” and more importantly, “how does it work?”

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first, the term bespoke effectively means custom.

So, what does custom or “bespoke software” mean for your business?

It means the opportunity to break free of restrictive—and often limiting—commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software and other online platforms and empower your business for growth.

How?

Let’s dive in.

How Does Bespoke Software Work?

Two people looking at something on a computerOkay, so as we’ve mentioned above, bespoke software is just another name for custom software.

So, let’s talk about the conditions that lead to the need for custom software and how it works for your business.

Let’s say that you’re a wholesale manufacturer that makes hair care products. You handle your own shipping and distribution to various retailers and you’re using a platform like Salesforce or Microsoft Access to manage your retail clients and inventory.

In the beginning, managing your initial data was simple, and available software or platforms like these were godsends.

However, as your company has grown over time, you’re finding yourself running into two recurring problems:

  • In the case of COTS systems like Microsoft Access, the amount of data that is now being used to manage your inventory is bursting at the seams. 

In effect, it’s slowing down your entire system and causing errors in accurately assessing your total inventory prior to shipment. These hiccups are costing you additional manhours to double-check your inventory manually and is hurting your reputation among your retailers for missing or oversupplied shipments.

Or…

  • For your client management system (CMS), Salesforce, you’re finding yourself hitting a wall in terms of customization.

The problem with big platforms like Salesforce is that simply put, they aren’t made for your business. They’re made to function for a wide swatch of thousands of businesses and therefore appeal more favorably to universality rather than niche customization.

The problem with that is that as your business grows and encounters more unique problems, you’ll find that cookie-cutter platforms aren’t just limiting—they’re also inefficient.

Okay, so why is bespoke software the better option?

The Benefits of Bespoke Software

A group of programmersThe benefits of bespoke software can be summed up in one word:

Control.

In opposition to common COTS systems and other online Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms, when you develop your own custom software, you’ll gain an unprecedented level of power over your business.

For example, a common problem with Microsoft Access is the fact that beyond 2GBs of data, managing files that large becomes incredibly unwieldy.

And when time is money, these kinds of daily and consistent hiccups to internal workflows can become costly. Not only do these kinds of broken systems require increased training time for your staff and new hires, but the problems only seem to compound over time.

One “workaround” leads to two, then three, and so on.

Before you know it, you’re left with a patchwork system of “fixes” designed to avoid the real problem: 

It’s time for a replacement.

The biggest benefit of bespoke software is the freedom to grow with impunity. With custom software designed to scale with your business, gone are the days of having to limit yourself for fear of outgrowing your system. 

Custom software is designed from the ground up to meet your needs. In effect, it addresses every problem your business is encountering—or could encounter—and proactively applies a solution to cover it. 

When your business needs to expand its capabilities, your software is designed to handle that expansion reflexively without a hiccup.

Knowing When It’s Time to Upgrade

Growing out of your COTS systems or SaaS platforms is inevitable. The only question is when you decide it’s time to upgrade.

The problem is that these systems aren’t made for the highly-specialized and unique scenarios found in SMB and enterprise businesses.

This means that any business or organization that’s looking to grow will need to develop their own bespoke software if they want to avoid the inherent restrictions of external tech.

The question to ask is… 

Do you want to wait until it’s costing you money or take care of it early?

Like the choice to get your wisdom teeth removed, developing bespoke software for many companies is something that will happen eventually. However, you can choose to do it early while it’s quick and easy, or wait until the problem becomes more painful.

What to Look for in a Custom Software Development Company Before Switching

A young team of largely womenExperience and expertise.

Yes, we know that sounds pretty obvious but here’s what we mean:

  • Experience – Time spent working with clients just like you.
  • Expertise – Years of relevant professional knowledge and skills.

And to find the right bespoke software company you’ll need to thoroughly vet your prospects (yup, even us).

In reality, you want to find a bespoke software development company that’s experienced—technically and professionally—but also niche. That means if you’re a hospital in need of a new mobile app, the company you choose has worked with hospitals to create mobile apps in the past.

We know, depending on your industry that can be a tall and specific order. However, it’s that level of intimacy in your field that will ultimately produce the best products for your business.

When a company has that level of closeness to your industry, the shorthand, communication, and shared vision will be much clearer.

And the work will be a lot better.

Moving Forward with Bespoke Software

As you consider whether or not it’s time to upgrade to bespoke software, it’s important to ask yourself that one lingering question:

Is my current system slowing my growth?

If the answer is yes, then it’s worth a phone call to explore a new solution. Growth-focused or not, it’s not a bad idea to think ahead for maximum efficiency.

COTS systems and SaaS platforms can be convenient. However, if you’re planning to grow, it’s best to lay the infrastructure of bespoke software now rather than later.

Ready to chat about building your own bespoke software?
Click here to schedule a free 15-minute consultation.

About Cameron Kennerly

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