6 reasons why you should opt for custom software development

10 min read
November 16, 2022

We’re truly living in the age of convenience.

Nowadays, all the tools necessary to set up a business are at your fingertips.

Websites can be built in hours without having to hire a developer. You can automate your accounting with various software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms.

And even top-notch cybersecurity can be had with the right off-the-shelf package.

And the good news is that you can access these platforms for just a few dollars every month.

So, why would a company ignore the more cost-effective option and opt for custom software that is several times more expensive to build?

It turns out there are six compelling reasons for doing so.

It tailors the software solution to your needs

The most significant limitation of off-the-shelf software is that it’s often a one-size-fits-all solution. Unfortunately, this means that it won’t be a 100% fit for the needs of your business.

For run-of-the-mill businesses with common processes, that’s acceptable. But if you’re an innovative startup with a unique workflow, off-the-shelf solutions will only slow you down.

This is where custom software becomes invaluable.

Take Uber, for example.

When this company was first founded, mobile ride-hailing was still unheard of. Thus, no existing commercial systems could be used to build this revolutionary idea.

So founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp had to resort to building a custom web-based platform using PHP.

Ubers earlier app screens

Source: Enlume

And it took off from there. Today, Uber’s ride-hailing app is the gold standard that many competitors (including Lyft) copy from.

But custom software isn’t just for radical startups. Any business could benefit from it.

In fact, if you’re building an app for the entertainment, healthcare, or transportation industry, chances are you need bespoke software.

These niches offer specialized products and services that often require deep customization.

custom software solutions graphics industries 1

Source: MassMedia Group

Also, look at this statistic—businesses waste up to 41% of their budget on software solutions that have features they don’t need.

That’s a huge inefficiency that can be solved with custom software.

No wonder more and more companies are choosing bespoke solutions over off-the-shelf alternatives, despite the added initial costs.

You can see this trend clearly in the survey below:

Custom software vs off the shelf usage graph from 2016 to 2020 1

Source: Citrus Bug

In addition, bespoke software can also lead to a more secure system.

That’s what the healthcare security firm Protenus found out first-hand.

In their 2022 Breach Barometer report, the firm revealed that the health industry encountered 19% more data breaches in 2021 than the previous year.

And they expect the situation to get worse as hackers become more sophisticated.

total incidents health data breaches chart 1

Source: Protenus

Helenmarie Blake, the chief compliance officer of Nicklaus Children’s Health System, noted the challenges the industry faces:

The need for more robust, data-driven compliance monitoring efforts are more necessary than ever before, especially in a time of constant change and the need to maximize efficiency in budgets.

Using custom software is the best way to guarantee a more reliable system. It ensures you can achieve the level of security, compliance, and privacy you need.

The seamless integration into your workflow also means fewer security vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit.

It sets you apart from your competitors

Custom software can give you a competitive edge over your competition. This is perhaps the best reason to use one!

Having a bespoke platform means you can do business much faster and be more productive.

That gives you a better chance of delivering a more satisfying customer experience than your competitors.

To illustrate this point, let’s look at McDonald’s proprietary point-of-sale (POS) system called NP6.

McDonalds Point of Sale machine 1

Source: Glassdoor

NP6 is the latest version of the fast food chain’s POS system, derived from a platform called Neo. Its infrastructure and features are tailored specifically to McDonald’s.

For instance, while most commercial POS software has built-in customer relationship management (CRM) features, NP6 doesn’t. It doesn’t need to—instead, NP6 focuses on speed.

NP6 can handle large volumes of customer transactions continuously without slowing down.

And despite its power, it has an intuitive user interface so that cashiers can punch in orders rapidly.

It’s unlikely that an off-the-shelf POS solution could match the speed and volume order expected at a typical McDonald’s outlet.

The best part is that competitors can’t copy proprietary software, which means any advantage you get from your custom solution will be yours alone. Or—if you’re shrewd—you can even sell your in-house platform to your competitor!

It allows you to scale at your own pace

Off-the-shelf solutions rarely have the capacity and performance to match the growth of mid to large-size enterprises.

This means that, unless you’re willing to risk your ability to scale being dramatically limited, after a certain point, you’ll almost always need custom software to grow your business.

Custom software can free you from these limitations because it addresses the three key roadblocks to business scaling:

three key roadblocks to business scaling 1

Source: Visual Capitalist

Custom software can help make your internal systems more flexible. That’s because it will have features that support all of your business processes and requirements.

This also allows your company to handle the influx of data and transactions that comes from greater demand.

Additionally, custom software can help automate your workflow by handling repetitive or difficult tasks.

Studies have shown that employees spend much of their day doing mundane activities that often turn out to be a total waste of time.

Here are some statistics that clearly show that:

Office productivity statistics 1

Source: Frevvo

Custom software can automate these tasks. That allows you and your staff to focus on more productive activities that have a bigger impact on your revenue.

Automation also lowers your labor costs, which can help improve profits as you scale.

And when you have good profitability, your business is likely to seem more attractive to investors and venture capitalists. This can help you secure much-needed funding for expansions.

As you can see, custom software can help you overcome scaling challenges.

That was the crux behind the decision of Royal Caribbean Cruises to hire DECODE for their unified communication app, CrewApp.

real example of crew app 1

Source: DECODE

Royal Caribbean had a unique problem—how do you communicate with 70,000 staff across 40 ships worldwide, most of them in the middle of the ocean with no Internet connection?

Clearly, no commercial app could solve this problem, so we needed to design a bespoke solution from scratch.

The result was an exceptional platform that combined robust chat functionality, a news portal, a crew directory, and ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore communication.

Running a business at scale always brings unique challenges, and often only custom software can sufficiently tackle them.

It enables seamless integration with existing software

Linking all of your apps is perhaps the critical yet underestimated ingredient for business success.

See, companies rarely use only one software solution. In fact, studies have shown that a typical business uses up to 254 SaaS apps.

Unfortunately, switching between them is time-consuming and distracting, negatively impacting staff productivity. It also makes passing data from one app to another inherently error-prone.

For example, let’s say you manage an e-commerce store.

Without integration, orders on your website must be manually sent to relevant departments like warehouse and fulfillment. Any mistake during these steps can lead to delays in the transaction.

You can avoid this by having a bespoke order management system that links these functions together.

order management system integrations diagram 1

Source: Software Advice

Now, whenever someone orders from your site, the invoice is automatically sent to other relevant functions.

This kind of integration delivers plenty of advantages to your business, including the following:

5 advantages of system integration

Source: Liquid Web

However, integrating all your off-the-shelf apps is rarely possible.

For example, despite the robust integration options for SalesForce, it has a lot of technical limitations.

For instance, it can’t create SharePoint files within the platform, which can be an issue since SharePoint is popular with many enterprises.

For high-performance businesses, seamless integration is simply non-negotiable. That makes bespoke software your only option.

It gives you exclusive ownership of the software

One of the best reasons for choosing custom software is full ownership. This means you can do anything you want with your software—use it, modify it, or sell it to other companies.

When you buy off-the-shelf software, you don’t actually own it. In fact, your usage is strictly controlled by an End User License Agreement or EULA.

common clauses of EULA 1

Source: Yashaa Global

One big implication of a EULA is that you can’t do extensive modifications in the software to fit your requirements.

For instance, you can’t integrate it with your existing platforms unless the developer supports that functionality.

In theory, this means your operation is at the whim of the off-the-shelf vendor.

For example, let’s say they suddenly modify a feature that your company depends on.

There’s nothing you can do but adapt your workflow to compensate for the update, which is as inconvenient as it is risky.

What’s worse is that the developer of the off-the-shelf software can—in theory— prevent you from using it anytime.

This is especially true for SaaS platforms where an account can be easily terminated, or the service provider can go out of business unexpectedly.

These issues don’t exist with custom software.

At DECODE, we recognize that any app we develop for you is yours. It’s your code. And we have watertight agreements covered by the EU’s strong legal framework to guarantee this.

It saves you money in the long term

Surprisingly, a thousand-dollar bespoke software is more cost-effective than off-the-shelf software that only costs a couple hundred.

How so?

It may seem like you’re saving more with the cheaper upfront cost of off-the-shelf solutions. But you end up paying more in the long run if you need to modify the software to fit your workflow.

Here’s what that would look like:

modify the software to fit your workflow 1

Source: Do IT Software

Bespoke software offers close to 100% effectiveness once it’s launched, only requiring minimal tweaking at worst. That’s expected—after all, it was developed with your business in mind.

In contrast, off-the-shelf solutions are rarely ready straight out of the box.

Even after the onboarding, you typically need to modify and tweak them, which takes time, effort, and money.

And most of the time, you can’t get it to fit the needs of your operation entirely.

When you factor these hidden costs in, it’s guaranteed the price will go beyond the upfront payment for off-the-shelf software.

That’s not even considering the loss in productivity of making it work in your favor.

Source: Troy Web Consulting

On the other hand, bespoke software does not suffer from these issues.

On the contrary, when done right, it can be an excellent solution which will make your business more productive, making it a great investment that could pay for itself many times over.

Looking for a custom software developer?

We hope this article has helped you decide whether you need a custom software solution.

When the time comes to look for a developer, why not consider DECODE?

We’ve built many successful custom solutions, from mobile payment platforms to messaging apps. And we’ll use that experience and expertise to help bring your project to life!

Interested? Get in touch with us today, and let’s talk about your software needs.

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Written by

Ante Baus


Ante is a true expert. Another graduate from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, he’s been a DECODEr from the very beginning. Ante is an experienced software engineer with an admirably wide knowledge of tech. But his superpower lies in iOS development, having gained valuable experience on projects in the fintech and telco industries. Ante is a man of many hobbies, but his top three are fishing, hunting, and again, fishing. He is also the state champ in curling, and represents Croatia on the national team. Impressive, right?

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