As a rule, the majority of businesses buy their business software ‘off-the-shelf’, but is the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach really the best strategy?
Some businesses may not have even considered any alternative concepts. Whilst the common train-of-thought for the rest, is that it is much cheaper to buy packaged software, than to do-it-yourself.
But is it really cheaper to buy ‘off-the-shelf’?
What about the long-term productivity costs of using software that’s ‘not quite right’ for your unique business?
Software vendors have to accept ‘feature bloat’ in their products, as they cater for the masses. So, what about all of the features which (despite having been paid for) are ultimately going to be switched-off or just ignored, after they have been identified as surplus to requirements?
Then there are the processes which don’t quite fit the way your company likes to work. After all, any business has distinct terminologies, working practices, a variety of different challenges and will require their information supplied and presented in particular formats.
This leads to the inevitable ‘workaround’ or customisation, which is destined to become the main daily gripe for your staff for years to come.
Now factor in the updates, maintenance and support costs required, year-on-year and the lack of freedom to configure, re-develop and integrate with other systems and it doesn’t seem such a simple choice.
Just as importantly, companies evolve over time and business process changes constantly (especially for growing businesses) in order to remain competitive.
Packaged software does not adapt well to change.
Do you want to adapt to the processes dictated by your software, or should your business applications adapt to you?
If your industry undergoes legislative change, how much time and expense would be involved for the supplier to reconfigure or even redevelop the application?
Would your supplier or vendor even be receptive to this kind of request?
Bespoke software is built to your exacting demands. It can evolve with your business over time, offering more freedom to configure, develop and integrate with other systems.
The long-term benefit of having your business applications built to spec is the return-on-investment brought about by cost-of-ownership over time and improved staff productivity and efficiency.
In fact you could even consider the competitive advantage and differentiation over your competition, brought about by owning specially-built software that not only improves performance but encourages collaborative working and generally more innovative practices.
Furthermore, if your company owns the intellectual property, then the software is a valuable company asset.
So why is there resistance to the concept of bespoke application development then?
Firstly, there is the fear that developing your own applications to spec, will take too long.
Whilst project creep is a problem with some ‘high-end’ development platforms, some platforms support a much more agile development approach.
Which brings us onto the need for a reliable, proven and secure technology that is not too time consuming to develop on.
Oracle APEX is a perfect fit for the agile, Rapid Application Development (RAD) approach to building bespoke business-class applications.
Secondly, there is an assumption that ‘bespoke’ means expensive.
Admittedly, you do need some key pre-requisites and one of these pre-requisites is development resource. If your company does not have its own team of developers, then an aversion to self-built applications is understandable.
In this case, consider speaking to a potential application development partner, such as Explorer. With a trusted development advisor, you should have access to valuable advice on what is achievable within a certain budget. Consider a free workshop with Explorer’s experienced development team.
Perhaps you do have a development team, but they require training on the latest RAD technology, such as Oracle Application Express (APEX).
Contrary to popular belief, developing a new application based on Oracle technology is not as expensive as you might think.
Author: Neil Baxter
Job Title: Oracle Account Manager
Bio: Neil has fulfilled a number of customer-facing roles in the technology industry, from Account Management to Solution Management. He has many years of experience in advising on bespoke solutions, having even been responsible for implementing and configuring timesheet, CRM, and project management software in his time. At DSP-Explorer, Neil is very focussed on presenting the commercial benefits of the solutions that our development team can provide, with particular emphasis on the Oracle Application Express (APEX) platform.