In a rapidly evolving business landscape, organisations continually seek software solutions to support their unique needs, streamline business processes and reduce the time and costs associated with manual handling. Approaches to this challenge include sourcing, configuring and integrating existing off-the-shelf software products and services or creating a custom enterprise software system tailored specifically to the organisation’s operations.
In today’s market, the number of off-the-shelf products and services is abundant, promising comprehensive solutions for various business needs. However, it’s important to recognise that, by definition, all pre-packaged software offerings are designed with a broad range of organisations in mind to cater to the most common needs. This is perfectly understandable as a uniform solution has the potential of attracting more users. The more customers, the better for the software provider, but being one of those thousands and sometimes millions – is it the same good for you?
The truth is, each organisation is unique. No individual organisation can get all they need and how they specifically need it to work within a single out-of-the-box product or service. Inevitably SaaS and SAAP users find themselves adapting to pre-established patterns, navigating through plenty of irrelevant features, and devising workarounds for missing functionalities they could benefit from in their unique workflows.
The strength and the weakness of all off-the-shelf systems is that each is designed for a specific purpose, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, customer relationship management (CRM) software, human resources management systems (HRMS), supply chain management (SCM) software, business intelligence (BI) platforms, content management systems (CNS) and anything else you can imagine. Organisations are compelled to adopt multiple disparate systems to fulfil their needs. Despite seamless integrations being advertised by all modern COTS software providers, integration capabilities are always limited to a certain extent. This results in the double handling of data in organisations and the need to bridge gaps through manual processes or resorting to Excel spreadsheets.
In certain instances, I have encountered situations where eliminating double handling, manual data management, and constant switching between multiple systems has saved employees up to 2 hours per day. This recovered time could then be redirected towards revenue-generating activities. When considering a scenario where ten or more employees experience such inefficiencies, a simple calculation reveals that a carefully designed custom-built system can save 5,000 hours or more annually, resulting in significant cost savings of around 200,000 AUD a year. These numbers highlight the substantial impact business systems setup can have on an organisation’s productivity and financial outcomes.
The organisation’s waste of time and money associated with manual processes and double handling increases proportionally with size. While the impact may not be significant for smaller businesses, the consequences of such waste cannot be underestimated in larger organisations, as it reduces ROI and undermines their competitive edge.
There are several scenarios where bespoke enterprise software development emerges as a more viable option than configuring and integrating readily available products and services.
Business systems analysis can identify significant adverse effects of bridging gaps caused by a lack of seamless integration. In many Australian organisations, hundreds of hours are consumed by inefficient processes, and the overall companies’ productivity and ROI are seriously impacted as a result. If this is the case, investing in bespoke software development emerges as a strategic decision that can significantly enhance an organisation’s long-term efficiency and foster sustainable growth. Custom software can be designed to integrate flawlessly, facilitating efficient data flow and communication across different platforms and enhancing productivity and collaboration.
In cases where an organisation has intricate requirements or complex calculations that off-the-shelf solutions cannot adequately address, custom software development allows for tailored solutions that precisely meet the organisation’s specific needs, ensuring optimal efficiency.
Organisations anticipating substantial growth or requiring high-performance solutions often find enterprise software development the optimal choice. Custom software allows for creating scalable and high-performing applications, surpassing the limitations of off-the-shelf solutions and enabling the organisation to handle increasing workloads efficiently.
Organisations heavily reliant on legacy systems incompatible with off-the-shelf solutions can benefit significantly from enterprise software development. Custom software can bridge the gap between legacy systems and modern requirements, seamlessly integrating with existing infrastructure and enabling a smooth modernisation process.
While off-the-shelf solutions may appear initially cost-effective, they often involve recurring licensing fees, customisation costs, or limitations on future updates. In the long run, enterprise software development can be more cost-effective. By owning and controlling the software entirely, organisations can reduce ongoing expenses and tailor the solution to meet evolving needs without dependency on external vendors.
The decision between enterprise software development and purchasing and configuring off-the-shelf solutions depends on various factors, including the organisation’s requirements, budget, timeline, and available resources.
While readily available SaaS and SAAP solutions provide faster implementation and require fewer initial investments, enterprise software development offers unparalleled customisation, integration capabilities, scalability, and long-term cost-effectiveness.
In some cases, combining both approaches, such as customising off-the-shelf solutions, may be viable.
For organisations with distinctive and intricate requirements, existing legacy systems, or ambitious growth plans, who aspire to differentiate themselves from the competition, allocating a budget towards custom software development is recommended to future-proof their operations and drive sustainable business development.
A thorough analysis of the specific needs and goals of the organisation is essential in determining the most suitable option.