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Custom Software Development 101

Custom Software vs. Out of the Box Packages

Custom software development gets tailored to your business needs. Buying software from a vendor works while you grow as a small business, does that software hold up as your needs increase and you start to scale?

Benefits of Custom Development

There are many benefits to utilizing custom software in your organization.

Better Long-Term Investment

The initial investment into custom software will be more than purchasing off the shelf software. In the long-run, purchased software will require upgrades and licenses. Many times you get a set number of licenses to use with a finite amount of computers. If you want to add more machines, you need to purchase more licenses. 

With custom software, you own the application. There are no licenses unless you decide to sell licenses to benefit your company. All the fees with purchasing a software package get eliminated.

Increased Productivity

Custom software is just that, custom. Features, functions, core business concepts, all get built into the software. You notice when using purchased software, you feel like you don’t need a quarter of the features you paid for. Unneeded features may lead to requiring a patch or another application to complete specific tasks.

With custom software, you get what you need. When you have the functions your business needs, your companies productivity increases. When your software does what you want it to, you get more done. Custom software is a common-sense fix to your business needs.

More Secure

Every day we hear about security vulnerabilities and new data breaches. With mas distributed software, more people are looking for vulnerabilities for both preventative and zero-day uses. If a vulnerability gets found, patches may need to be purchased. Many software suites contain backdoors as well as we’ve found out over the past few years. 

As with all IT, best practices need to be used to ensure your infrastructure is secure. Custom software will most likely not be public reducing the access and knowledge of your software. With limited access and knowledge, the risk of malicious attacks can be reduced greatly.

Custom software gets built for your company. Security is a top priority with building custom software. User interfaces requesting a password use hash to encode passwords before being stored into a database. People looking for exploits and vulnerabilities may be non-existent since minimal users have access.

Scalable

Every company can be a tech company with new technologies, including SaaS, through the cloud. Scalability should be a goal and objective for not only your company but your software. With out-of-the-box software, while the software itself can be scaled, scalability is many times, not an option due to licensing and corporate factors.  

Custom software should be developed to be scalable. One key point in custom software development is using the DevOps method. DevOps encourages continuous integration and deployment, which allows for automated scaling of your software. Feedback from end-users, as well as data collected, assist project managers in implementing the growth of the apps as needed.

Tailor-Made for Your Business

Custom software gets developed with the client or consumer in mind. Requirements and needs are met after a consulting phase to ensure stakeholder satisfaction. Custom software gets built to your specifications. Custom software can have the functions you need for your core business functions.

Software Development Life Cycle

The software development life cycle is a method created to build software the fastest way for the lowest cost. Various camps of developers and engineers have developed the SDLC even further to make development even more streamlined and efficient. 

The necessary steps of the SDLC are relatively the same with each method with changes to teams and small variations of the steps and how they may get implemented.

SDLC Basics

SDLC chart for custom software development

Requirements & Planning

The first step in the SDLC is to gather client or business requirements for the software. Once requirements are gathered, planning can take place. Features, budget, timeline, and other aspects of planning are handled and documented.

Design

The design phase is where how the software will get built is decided. Design and architecture are determined and documented. Design specifications get documented. Stakeholders review the design specifications and approve or add recommendations.

Development

The software gets built to specification. Project managers assure the plan gets followed, and features and functionality get met to the stakeholder’s needs. 

Testing

Once the software gets built, testing happens. Depending on the method, testing can be automated, UAT, or a hybrid of the two. Errors, bugs, and other issues are found and fixed to prepare for deployment.

Deployment

The software is ready for consumer use. The software gets released to the company or public. Feedback and monitoring happen to determine issues, applications, or recommendations from end-users. Adjustments can be made to the software to optimize usage.

Types of Development Methods

Various methods of the SDLC have been developed to try to improve the efficiency and speed of a minimum viable product. The most common methods are listed below.

Waterfall

The oldest and most known SDLC method is the waterfall method. Software gets broken into phases, and each stage has a plan. The steps g developed consecutively, yet creating a virtual waterfall of development phases. 

Agile

The agile method was developed to improve efficiency and time to a minimum viable product for customer use. Agile breaks the project down into smaller iterations. Unlike the waterfall, each phase, or sprint, has the primary goal of getting the MVP deployed. 

Iterative

The iterative method uses small phases with minimum requirements. The steps iterate to build a more extensive software app. After the planning phase, it’s common to have a design/development stage, test, and deployment stages of building each smaller section. A disadvantage of the iterative method is resources can be used rapidly. 

Spiral

The spiral method is similar to the iterative method. The planning, design, build, and test phases are often repeated with smaller improvements to develop the overall application.

DevOps Development Culture

DevOps is a method that bridges gaps in communication and collaboration between the development teams and operations. DevOps stood for development and operations and was developed in 2009 to alleviate inefficiencies within these siloed departments. 

DevOps creates an environment where continuous improvement, a customer-centric philosophy, and automation help build microservices faster and with fewer errors. Continuous integration and deployment allow for rapid delivery of applications and updates, keeping downtime to a minimum and end-users satisfied.

Types of Custom Development

There are several ways custom development can get used to help your core business. From a complete build to integrations and dashboards, custom development can help tie your business functions together and increase production and efficiency.

Complete Custom Software Systems and Applications

Many times an entire software application may be needed for your company. Maybe you need a SaaS app for subscription purposes or a new ERP system to connect departments to a central database and interface. A completely new build can be a daunting task. Proper planning, the right team, and the development method will help build it fast and ready for client use.

Custom Software Development: Cloud-Based

Cloud development has become a dominant force in software development. Cloud computing allows for scalable, affordable, and accessible apps and data due to its online computing nature. Virtual servers and databases also eliminate the need for physical hardware and specialized rooms, making it an affordable and realistic option for start-ups and smaller enterprises. 

Depending on your objectives and needs, there are several ways to use the cloud platform to develop software and databases. Each has its benefits but uses various amounts of resources. 

Cloud model infograph for custom software development

IaaS

Infrastructure as a Services. IaaS gives companies the most control over development in the cloud environment. With IaaS, your IT controls the data, apps, operating systems, and middleware allowing your resources to develop and manage databases and how your app gets deployed.

PaaS

Platform as a Service. PaaS gives companies control of the core functions to develop custom software. Data, OS, and infrastructure are run by the third-party provider leaving the data and application in your control. PaaS allows your resources to develop apps and control how and where data gets distributed.

SaaS

Software as a Service. SaaS is typical for many businesses. Your company uses each app without having to use resources to develop or maintain apps. Either SaaS gets developed for your company, or you purchase a subscription. A third party manages the app and all of its components. Gmail, Salesforce, and other apps like these are examples of SaaS.

Custom Software Development: System Integrations

Another way to use custom software development is integration. Many companies have legacy systems or custom-built systems they may not be ready to part with. It’s common for different departments to use various software that gets tailored to the needs of that business function. While it may benefit the department, leads to inefficiency in the company.

Custom integrations can build dashboards that connect these apps to a central point. Databases can get created to collect and store the companies data. Centralized apps and data in a company reduce time spent tracking down information one department needs from another. Department collaboration can improve data sharing leading to customer satisfaction and increased revenue.

Custom Software Development: API

API stands for Application Programming Interface. APIs help software and apps communicate with each other. APIs allow data to move between apps through requests. APIs get used with B2C, B2B, and for core business functions. 

REST

Representational State Transfer. REST is an architecture vs. SOAP protocol. REST used less bandwidth and gets designed for web requests. REST can format in plain text, HTML, XML, and JSON. REST is cacheable, reducing requests sent by storing big data and information. REST is best with web applications and SaaS.  

GraphQL

GraphQL is the newest API created by Facebook and released open-source in 2015. GraphQl uses query language and schema allowing you to define the parameters of the data you need and eliminating under and over fetching data. GraphQl helps alleviate the n+1 problem with other web services. One downfall is the complexity of GraphQL.

GraphQL vs REST API for custom software development

SOAP

Simple Object Access Protocol. SOAP is a legacy protocol for gathering information between applications with XML. SOAP uses more bandwidth than REST. SOAP is best used with enterprise applications due to the ability to handle a larger load of data while keeping the state of information proper. SOAP is legacy and while it can be supported, development isn’t recommended.

Database Development

Data is the new commodity. Companies get built on data. Technology today has two main options for data storage and processing. Traditional physical servers, cloud, and a hybrid approach are ways the big companies are storing their data. 

Traditional Servers

Many companies still rely on physical servers. Physical servers allow you control over the entire infrastructure, but a lot of planning, budget, and resources need to be allocated to the building, use and maintaining these server rooms. Security needs to be managed by those companies as well. 

Cloud Databases

As seen above, cloud platforms are managed by a third party, eliminating a huge portion of resources, time, and money going to maintain. Cloud databases are scalable, and you pay as you use these resources. While you lose control over the entire infrastructure, security and disaster management are huge advantages of cloud databases.

Hybrid Approach

Many industries use a hybrid approach. A hybrid approach is seen in healthcare. Physical servers are used onsite for various functions while allowing in-house IT to maintain the security and integrity of the system. Cloud data and computing gets used with office locations and systems where mobile is needed. Accessing patient data at an office 50 miles away is an excellent example of this.

Conclusion

Custom software is a viable option to help your business grow and scale to global markets. From full applications to integrations and databases, the software is powering your company. Build the software that is the best and most affordable for your organization.

To learn more about custom software development, email, or call us today at 315-738-6016. We are a software staff augmentation company working with both commercial and government clients. Our specialties include custom software and API development, AWS cloud computing, blockchain, and SaaS development. We work with tech companies, finance and insurance, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and healthcare companies, helping build software projects with 100% US-based software developers on-demand.