In a majority of businesses, efficiency and profitability go hand-in-hand. The quick and correct performance of tasks can make all the difference between breaking even and clearing a profit. Fine-tuning a business to eliminate inefficiency is a constant goal. For some businesses, this can mean ditching off-the-shelf software in favour of custom software.
Off-the-shelf software is very general in nature. It performs a limited task or set of tasks for a business, regardless of the type of business using it. It often doesn’t have the capabilities to handle the special needs of a specific business or industry.
1. You’re using multiple software pieces to accomplish one task.
One software application for sales, one for billing, and one for shipping – surely there is a better way to do this. If you have one software application that tracks sales and inventory, and another sending out invoices, and yet another that schedules shipments, it affects your bottom line.
2. You’re tracking and analyzing data by hand.
Spreadsheets are great. They allow you to track data in a variety of ways. But if you’re keeping track of inventory, sales reports, and other bits of information this way, you’re making data analysis harder than necessary.
3. You’re doing repetitive tasks manually.
Regular tasks such as payroll, inventory, and invoicing are examples of manual tasks that happen regularly. Just because a task is repetitive doesn’t mean it’s error-proof. A transposed number or extra keystroke can cause all kinds of problems.
4. Your software isn’t scalable.
Flexibility is key in business today. The natural cycles of expansion and contraction in the economy usually find their way into your business. Software that cannot scale to meet these demands is software that isn’t efficient for your business.
5. You’re always in search-and-test mode.
There are numerous software applications designed for specific tasks – you know this because you’re in the process of methodically testing them all. Some are less than what you need. Others are complex, with features you will never use. You may even be trying to link several pieces of unrelated software together, hoping to accomplish a whole-business solution.
6. Your business needs to meet compliance standards.
Some industries are subject to government regulations, and the compliance details are usually very precise. Compliance can be more difficult to achieve if your business doesn’t have the means to capture the necessary information.
7. You have processes that should be simple… but are not.
When a single action relies on multiple steps to complete, it’s hard to operate your business efficiently. How much time and effort does your staff put into these seemingly simple tasks? How could this be done better?
8. You have multiple locations.
Businesses that operate from more than one location often need to access and update information to benefit all locations. While off-the-shelf software is common in multiple locations, it can also make communication between these locations more complicated than necessary.
9. You have lots of paper.
While many visionaries predicted a paperless office in the future, the fact is that some businesses have never managed to tame the paper tiger. Still, it’s possible to provide good customer service without mountains of paper. Get rid of the whiteboard, sticky notes, and printed dispatch reports.
10. Your software is too old.
Software can be a significant business expense, and many businesses continue to use outdated software in an attempt to wring every last bit of value from it. Legacy systems may operate a critical portion of your business, but they leave you vulnerable.
If you recognize your business in even one of the above, it may be time to consider custom software.
Isn’t Custom Software Expensive?
The word “custom” often equates to “expensive” in many people’s minds. While you will pay more for a custom software solution than you would for a single software application, you have to consider the return on your investment. Can you consolidate multiple steps into a single system? Can you unburden your staff by automating some tasks? How would that create a more efficient use of time and resources? The investment into a custom software solution might actually turn out to be less expensive in the long run as compared to multiple pieces of software.
Custom software can be as large or as small as your needs warrant. You may only need one small piece to link two software systems already in place. Or you may need a robust solution that is unique to your business. Whatever your needs, a custom software solution can streamline business processes and perform more efficiently than many off-the-shelf software packages. Maybe it’s time you considered it.