Businesses of every kind are moving operations online and integrating with AI and the cloud in ways we couldn't have imagined a few short years ago.

And as companies scramble to keep up with the headlong pace of modern, interconnected business, many of them cobble together the quickest solutions for their evolving software needs. That often means using off-the-shelf software packages that aren't customisable, aren't an exact fit for the company's requirements, and aren't expandable.

That's why more and more companies are choosing bespoke software solutions instead. For the best possible experience for customers, the cleanest interface, and the most efficient operating solutions, bespoke software is an increasingly popular choice. We'll take a closer look at why, examine different types of custom software solutions, and show the various ways it benefits companies.

But first, let's start with the basics:

What Is Bespoke Software?

Actually, let's start with what bespoke software isn't, and that's commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS). COTS is made for a mass market and has limited options in terms of being customisable. Businesses and their customers are forced to adapt to the strictures of off-the-shelf, generic software.

Because COTS applications are designed for a mass market, they're meant to be usable across the broadest range of businesses possible. An analogy in the personal app market might be something like WhatsApp or Twitter.

These apps appeal to billions of people. However, they don't cater to the specific needs of any one individual or business. You can't order a custom version of Twitter that allows you to edit your posts after publication, or delete other people's posts – or use it to do your banking or to order concert tickets.

Bespoke software, however – also referred to as custom or tailored software – takes the opposite approach. With these types of software solutions, the assumption is that your business and the way your customers and staff interact with it is unique and uniquely important.

A custom software program is an application that's developed to support the exact needs of a company, made to your specifications, is highly customisable, and can be augmented over time as the company's needs evolve.

What Are The Advantages Of Bespoke Software?

  1. Fully customisable – The joy of a software solution that runs 100 per cent the way you want it to and has all the features your unique mode of operation requires can't be overstated. Using custom software as opposed to generic applications means you no longer have to settle for “good enough.” And since you contributed to the design your software, you'll use 100 per cent of the features – there won't be any useless add-ons or bloat slowing you down.

  2. Stand out from the pack – Have you ever noticed when you're shopping online how so many e-commerce pages look the same? That's because all these companies are using the same mass-market software packages. However, if you opt for a bespoke software solution, you'll present a unique face to your customers that you can design down to the smallest detail.

  3. Improved efficiency – Since a custom software application can be designed and calibrated specifically for your needs, it helps to improve performance, cut out unnecessary steps, and gives you a more streamlined workflow.

  4. Return on investment – Costs are reduced due to the above, as well as by automating operations and thus reducing labour hours. Bespoke software, since it's created from the ground up to fit precisely with the way your company runs, also results in a considerable reduction in errors, saving you money that way too.

  5. Scalability and adaptability – Unlike commercial applications, custom-built software solutions are endlessly scalable and adaptable to changing circumstances. You can add or delete modules as your company evolves, plus you can quickly scale up as your customer base increases.

  6. Instantly, easily serviceable – If you have any issues or questions down the road with a bespoke software application, you can talk directly to the people who created it. As anyone who has ever navigated the automated phone customer service of any large company knows, “fast, efficient solutions” are generally not on the menu. Another plus in this regard is that the creative team behind your custom software knows exactly what's under the bonnet. They're able to go directly to offering useful solutions for any issues that might crop up, rather than wasting your time with “Have you tried turning your computer off and on again?” type of responses.

  7. Complete control – Just like when you order a bespoke suit, with a customised application, you own it fully and completely. There are no constraints on how you use it or alter it, which you often find with mass-market software.

  8. Better security – It's more efficient for hackers to learn how to break into an application that thousands of companies and millions of people use rather than put in the work to crack open a single company's software. Plus, software developers who craft custom software create security solutions for each that are as unique as the software itself. The modern principle on data security is “security by design,” not an afterthought or a patch you add on later. That means bespoke software security is more robust because it's integrated into the system.

  9. Seamless integration – Speaking of integration, custom software solutions are built to work with your existing programs, systems, and software. The developers know in advance what programs the application they're creating needs to work with, and they can create strategies to integrate those legacy programs and data seamlessly.

  10. Development control – With bespoke applications, you control how quickly the new software is implemented. You can roll out a custom software solution piecemeal over time. And along the way, the development team can work with you to integrate feedback provided by your staff and customers, making adjustments to the product before it's finalised.

Want more? Take a look through these bespoke software advantages.

bespoke software illustration

Are There Any Disadvantages To Bespoke Software?

Naturally, there are always trade-offs, no matter what path we choose. Luckily, with custom applications, the list of disadvantages is relatively short.

  1. Labour and time – Since bespoke software developers are creating a unique product to fit precisely with your existing systems, it's going to take a little time to research thoroughly. They need to carefully vet your business' needs and operations to ensure that the features they craft are going to work as desired. A custom solution doesn't make sense if it isn't fully integrated with existing programs and if it doesn't function exactly as you want it to, and that takes a little time to develop.

  2. Cost – Just as a custom suit costs more than an off-the-rack suit, a bespoke software solution is a bit higher cost than a mass-market app. But if you scratch the surface of that fact, you'll find the higher price in fact only applies to the up-front fees. Over time, the investment more than pays for itself. If you imagine your company evolving by expanding your customer base, scaling up staffing, or making other changes, after a couple of years, bespoke software applications are saving money because you don't have to spring for an entirely new off-the-shelf app. Instead, you can make the necessary changes to your tailored software.

  3. Off-the-shelf could be good enough – Mass market applications are by definition made to cover the basic needs of most of the people most of the time. Smaller, newer companies may well find that COTS apps are all they need to get started. But keep in mind that's a short-term way of thinking: sure, buying 40 or 50 licenses for an off-the-shelf application might be immediately cheaper, and it might have sufficient features to get your team started. But what happens in a year or two when you need to expand, and find the app falls short of your new requirements? Or if you need to scale up? Lots of companies find out too late that lots of off-the-shelf software applications are either inexpensive to buy but not suitable after businesses expand, or that they can support large enterprises, but are prohibitively expensive to license.

Examples of Bespoke Software Types

Because bespoke software is infinitely customisable, it can be built to do pretty much anything, apart from giving you a full head of hair or attending Christmas dinner with your in-laws. Here are a few examples in brief of how it can work for various organisations. You might also like to read our dedicated article about bespoke software examples where we explore them in more detail.

Custom Warehouse Inventory Software – Any company with a lot of inventory coming in and going out of their warehouse can benefit from a bespoke software program in the following areas:

  • Picking, packing and shipping – Workers have a mobile app module that directs them where they need to go to fill orders in real-time.

  • Automates order receiving – Staff scan incoming items that are then automatically checked against ordering data for accuracy.

  • Improves storage efficiency – The software can offer storage recommendations to improve efficiency.

  • Increases labour efficiency – All of the above massively streamline the workers' day, reducing time searching for misplaced or missing items and more.

  • Cuts costs – Reduces labour and expenses associated with mis-shipments, wrong orders, and much more.

  • Improves customer satisfaction – With an accurate warehouse software solution running, not only are packing and shipping times drastically slashed, no one can accidentally order out-of-stock items and returns are significantly reduced.

Custom Healthcare Software – Another prime example of how bespoke software can streamline and improve business efficiency is in the labyrinthine healthcare sector. Here's how:

  • Electronic health records (EHR) – Most if not all hospitals and medical offices are switching to EHR. Custom software is a tremendous opportunity to not only link up all patient data under one umbrella but also cross-integrate that data among healthcare professionals in different departments and locations, ensuring that treatment is only undertaken with all the relevant facts on hand.

  • Appointment scheduling – Automating healthcare scheduling can free up a ton of labour and provide a much more efficient and pleasant experience for customers.

  • Managing medical equipment – Reducing human error and ensuring that equipment software is up to date, machines are adequately maintained, and are rotated in and out of service for repairs efficiently could hardly be more critical anywhere than in a hospital. Bespoke software automates all of that, drastically reducing human error.

  • E-prescribing/pharma support – Medical staff around the world hail the recent introduction of e-prescribing capabilities, as these kinds of application modules can automate tracking, monitoring, and refilling patient prescriptions.

  • Streamlining telemedicine – Clinicians and their patients can consult via bespoke software with real-time, online access to medical records, chat, current medications, outside medical databases, meeting history (the outcomes of previous appointments) and much more.

  • Medical billing – Automating billing, invoicing, payments received or outstanding, and other financial information can be seamlessly integrated with the rest of the patient's EHR.

Custom School Administration Software – Managing students, teachers, admin, and more in the age of online learning is chaos even on a good day. Here's how custom software can help.

  • Customer relationship management (CRM) – Sometimes managing parents is as challenging as managing their children. Having an efficient, uncluttered, and attractive bespoke CRM portal that's both customer-facing and company-facing is a godsend.

  • Class management – Drag and drop functionality for changing teachers and students from class to class, as well as automated, integrated email notifications and more reduces labour hours and improves efficiency.

  • Student management – Custom software that can not only manage student data, including records, attendance, homework, grades, tests and test results, and more makes an administrator's life much easier.

  • Parent's portal – A fully integrated bespoke portal for parents to access the above information and consult with instructors is vital – and smoothly done.

Let Laracle Help You Create Your Dream Software Today

With just a little information, a quick call or email to Laracle can get someone on our bespoke software consulting team started on designing a preliminary plan that could take your business to the next level. Call today and take advantage of all that custom software solutions have to offer, and move your company into the 21st-century world of integration with the cloud and AI!

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