Andrew Sirianni

Automatic invoicing and billing systems, personnel management software, digital marketing tools (just to name a few) are all useful enterprise apps (off the shelf software) that mean businesses can carry out their daily operations, but that's not to say they are without their flaws or inefficiencies. Although having these multiple apps is useful, the answer to their inefficiencies may seem like 'custom software'. Some will say yes, others will say no, but sometimes the answer may lie in the middle - create a custom workflow.

Let's revisit the reasons that custom software can often be a better solution. Firstly it's made to order, meaning that it suits exactly your needs and requirements. It's easy to scale and may be able to solve a problem that there simply isn't a software available for.  It also allows you to capture and replicate procedures in your business that bring competitive advantage - a huge benefit in the overall workflow for the business. However on the flip side, custom software can be a more expensive alternative and can represent a significant investment, especially if previous investments have already been made into off-the-shelf software.

But the issue with enterprise apps is although they may work for one part of your business eg accounting and payroll, they don't work for another eg marketing. Therefore businesses end up using multiple apps meaning tasks, even very basic ones, can take far longer than they need to. And here's the dilemma, given the investment in these apps, but the inefficiency it creates paired with the cost of custom software development the question remains, is creating a new custom software to fix the inefficiency worth it? The answer then is to close the gap between what you need and what you have.

Using a custom solution, you can integrate information and workflows from these apps into one single, unified feed giving you a detailed overview of tasks and information from these multiple apps as well as providing easy access into any specific app. It can also allow you to create such integrations in reverse meaning you can easily provide information back into eg your accounting system for invoicing. For example, rather than a person having to go into the accounting system, you can create an integration on the feed where they can enter the data instead much more simply.

Custom solutions that integrate already existing apps can be much more cost effective and may be more appropriate for the business based on their needs. In a large company, it's simpler to implement and easier to learn. Depending on the type of business, it can also be customised on an individual basis.

Creating your own software based on your specific business needs and requirements may seem like a logical step in eliminating the extra work in getting to this point entirely. However, sometimes already existing apps may be developed to the point where there is no value in reinventing the wheel, such as Xero. Both Custom Software and Off the Shelf solutions have their value, and can be used in different ways, but ultimately will depend on what your requirements are. If you're finding that using multiple apps is creating inefficiencies in your business, let's have a chat about how to fix the cracks and make your software work as effectively as possible for you.

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