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When to use bespoke software
Off the shelf software is fine most of the time, but
Small to medium business owners often think that custom software development would cost more than they can afford. And, until recently they would probably have been right. For this reason many companies allow their staff to waste countless hours performing brain numbing repetitive tasks when those people could have been generating new business. Worse still, the lack of efficiency often becomes apparent to their customers causing frustration
Off the shelf software.Nobody in their right mind would try to write their own company specific wordprocessor or spreadsheet. It can take hundreds of man years to develop complex software packages and it makes sense to spread that cost around. Most companies use a variety of off the shelf packages to accomplish their work and this makes perfect sense. However, there are some very serious problems that often arise while using off-the-shelf software.
Using the wrong tool for the job.The software you are using was not created with your specific requirements in mind so its almost inevitable that in some respects it is not ideal for your needs. In fact its quite likely that your business has had to adjust itself around the various software packages it uses rather than the other way round. Now sometimes this makes sense, but sometimes it doesnt. When it doesn't make sense you're very likely to not even notice how much money you're wasting because people were working as efficiently as they could with the software they had.
Partially duplicated databases.Companies often end up with information held in a variety of systems where some of the data is duplicated. This can happen for a variey of reasons.
Partial migration.A company grows and migrates from one off the shelf software package to another because the new software has features that are essential to the business. However, some aspects of the old package cannot be reproduced in the new software so two overlapping pieces of software get used simultaneously. Your staff then need to switch from one package to another cross referencing fields and duplicating work. This process is time consuming and error prone.
MergersOne company merges with another, naturally the two companies hold their information in a variety of systems. Unifying the systems is seldom completely straightforward and as operations are ongoing nobody can afford the disruption to business that sorting the whole thing out might require.
Departamental differencesSales and accounting have different requirements and naturally purchase whatever software they need in order to get their jobs done. people working in customer support end up having to flip between the two systems in order to address different aspects of customer queries.