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Every business wants, needs, to be more efficient, to do more with less — bluntly to make more profit. And business owners should ask themselves, “Will custom software make my business more efficient and increase my profits?”
Often it can. What are your current pain points?
Of course, if you don’t have any pain points in your current business, you don’t need custom software. (And if so, you might let us know how you’re doing it, because we know we have some.) But assuming you do have some company needs to be more efficient or scale, here are some problems and approaches.
Many companies, especially small and medium sized businesses (“SMB” — business articles are required by law to use acronyms and initialisms) still use paper-based systems, and paper-based systems have inherent problems:
But paper continues to be used, because it’s cheap, it’s portable, and it’s easily available.
Every company uses spreadsheets for some systems. Some companies never get away from spreadsheets as they grow.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your business is limited by your use of spreadsheets as a system. Custom software can solve that problem.
Business no longer happens in the office alone any more. Workers are out in the field, workers are working remotely, workers want to be able to keep in touch when a kid is sick or a car battery died.
There are a lot of small manufacturing businesses out there, doing things like custom cabinets or metal fabrication, and all of them have the same problem: raw materials in the door, finished goods out the other door, and customer promises to keep. The old-fashioned way to handle this is a form, usually multi-part, and someone going down on the shop floor to find out where Mrs. Schneider’s kitchen island is.
Then you need to get Mrs. Schneider’s kitchen island to her in Chillicothe, so even after it leaves the shop you still need to track it. And back in the shop, you need to account for that special-order marble, or the walnut veneer, or the ridiculously expensive zebra wood you special ordered for her. Meanwhile, in the music store down the street, someone is counting the clarinet swabs and guitar picks because you need to account for inventory in your tax filings.
Sometimes the worst problems are ones you already have. You bought a custom solution ten years — or about 4 technology generations — ago. Now you have it, but it’s running out of capacity, it’s hard to change, it’s out of date, it’s just generally beating you up and taking your lunch money.
These problems can be fixed.
First of all, custom software isn’t the solution for everyone. The first thing you should do is look for commercial off-the-shelf software that will handle your business. One of the best things a consulting company can do for you is identify a commercial solution and help you get it installed.
Custom software can put you ahead of your competition in a lot of ways, though.
In the Paleolithic Internet, there was always a worry: where would you host your applications? What happens if you get mentioned on TV and suddenly the whole world wants to visit your website?
Or maybe you just have desktop systems that you have to maintain, back up, and manage. It’s all a pain.
Moving to the cloud means moving your applications and servers to somewhere else. Remember, what “the cloud” really means is “using someone else’s computers” and that’s a good thing. Why worry about that when you can pay a very small fee to someone like Amazon AWS, which has to manage all their computers anyway including those scary security challenges?
Of course this all sounds great, but how can we “bell our custom software cat”?
Software development itself has changed. The preferred approach today is what’s called agile development. This means instead of writing a proposal and then waiting six months for the results, the project works with:
For many companies, custom software, especially mobile applications and cloud-based computing, can make your business much more efficient, save you expense, and improve profits.
Your competition is considering custom software. Shouldn’t you?
Interested in considering a custom solution for your business? Contact us for a free estimate and phone consultation.
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