The Benefits of Custom Enterprise Software for Your Business—Deciding whether to build or buy

Lukasa Insights

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Deciding whether to build or buy

If there’s one simple, unassailable truth about doing business in today’s digitally-driven economy, it’s that every company depends on technology in some form to stay competitive. 

So finding and using the right technology for your unique enterprise is crucial.

Typically, that begins with a basic choice between commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS) and custom enterprise software.

But this most fundamental choice isn’t as straightforward or binary as it may seem—and it can’t be made in a vacuum. Each has pros and cons relative to your specific case.

The most important first step you can take in choosing technology—whether you’re starting out or modernizing—is to conduct a holistic analysis of your business processes and technological needs based on your goals.

Some things to know about the basic options:
COTS is packaged software you buy from a commercial developer who has made a product for wide use.

There’s an immense selection of COTS choices on the market, and it’s easy to understand their allure. The perception is that purchased software offers simplicity—that it’s ready-made, user-friendly, easy to install, able to integrate with existing applications, customizable, and comparatively affordable.

In reality, this may or may not prove true for your business.

The problem many companies run into is that one-size rarely fits all. True customization can be sharply limited with COTS—as can flexibility, agility, and scalability. You may find yourself with a patchwork of disparate systems that serve diverse functions. Depending on the level of customization you require and what other products you’re using, set-up and system integration costs can escalate, and you may spend more than expected on training. Data integration can also pose challenges that slow you down and wind-up creating manual tasks rather than helping you streamline and automate.

Purchased software is versatile in that it’s typically designed to do many tasks, and comes with lots of features. But the package deal means you may be paying for more functions than you need or use—built-in bells and whistles aren’t a good value if they don’t serve your organization’s purpose.

Commercial software may also have hidden costs that add up over time, such as ongoing subscription renewal; the upsell can be daunting, available upgrades may not fit your needs, or you may lose customization when up you upgrade. As legacy systems deteriorate, becoming harder to maintain and eventually obsolete, the time and expense of new integrations rises.

Even with highly specialized software, because the developer has designed and built it for diverse users, it’s unlikely to fit your precise demands right out of the box. Ultimately, many enterprise leaders find themselves trying to fit their business processes into the capabilities of purchased software, unable to find technology that’s able to do exactly what they need.

Custom Enterprise Software is “tailor-made,” from scratch, for your organization, your purposes, and your particular set of users. It’s designed, built, deployed, and maintained to meet your exact demands and work the way you work.
Custom technology translates the comprehensive logic of your business—your ideas, objectives, and practical requirements—into a unique technology product that can give your company a competitive edge by increasing efficiency, solving exact problems, performing a scope of critical tasks with specialized features and automation, and facilitating new and highly effective workflows. From data management to internal processes to customer experience, custom software offers an interface distinctly designed for the way your users work, with functionality that can be adjusted as needed. Created for seamless integration with your processes, custom software is agile, flexible and scalable, and helps ensure compliance with the most up-to-date cybersecurity standards.

Custom software development offers direct and high-level involvement with the developer. It gives stakeholders an opportunity to communicate and collaborate in establishing a shared vision for the requirements of the system. Your organization gains an advantage over competitors using less precise technology.  

Custom software can increase profitability not only by guaranteeing that your company is working at the highest level of efficiency, but also by streamlining—it eliminates unnecessary features that you’d be paying for with COTS.

Custom systems offer additional revenue opportunities as well. Custom software is a substantial IP asset, owned by your company, which represents significant value added if you sell your business. Or you may choose, down the road, to sell or license the tech product itself to similar businesses.

The bottom line:
Business leaders sometimes imagine that a custom system is unattainable—they may have concerns and preconceptions about time or cost. 

But it’s important to realize that buying packaged software by no means guarantees quick and easy installation and integration, or rapid availability for use. It takes time— some level of customization will inevitably be necessary. Depending on your needs, the timeline for custom software development may be comparable or better.

Similarly, there’s no perfect formula for predicting the price of either COTS or custom software in a general sense. In both cases, cost is dictated by numerous factors relative to the scope and complexity of your project and requirements.

Value, in technology, is ultimately measurable by how well your software serves the unique needs of your company—not how easily you can adapt your business tasks to fit the built-in capabilities of an existing product.

Again, it’s vital to take a 360° look at your business and weigh the merits of each option against your particular needs. A skilled and responsive technology partner can help you make an informed choice about the system that will provide the best ROI for your unique organization.

At Lukasa, we specialize in helping companies define their operational and technological needs through expert process analysis and a modern lens. Our veteran team of digital transformation experts takes a partnership approach to every project, working closely with each client to imagine and seamlessly implement the most precise and effective business and technology solutions to maximize your organization’s efficiency and profitability, now and into the future. No matter the size or scope of your technology needs, we can help you decide whether to build or buy—and we always deliver a perfect fit.

About Lukasa -
Lukasa empowers small-to-medium-sized businesses by designing and implementing custom business and technology solutions that drive efficiency, productivity, and innovation, enabling them to stay ahead in today’s rapidly-changing competitive landscape.