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Custom Software Development. What is it and how to choose the right firm?

You may have heard the phrase custom-written software banded about a lot recently, but what exactly is it? What are the different types of custom software solutions available to a business? What's the development process? How do business clients choose the right bespoke software development specialist to create the best custom software solution and deliver growth for their companies? In our latest blog, we aim to guide you and your business and avoid any issues.

What is Custom Software Development?

A custom-written software solution is specially created for businesses to fulfil their own very specific and often unique business requirements. Often referred to as bespoke software or tailor-made software, these applications are developed entirely from scratch and are therefore designed to do everything you want them to do, rather than lots of things you don’t.

The text-book definition of custom software development is the process of the design, creation, deployment and maintenance of software for a specific set of users, business functions or organisations.

The number one business benefit of custom written software is that it gives you total control over the software development process and software used to run your business. It’s more secure and scalable, can increase productivity, meet market demands and give you the competitive advantage to take your brand to the next level.

So now we know what custom software is, let’s drill down deeper into the different categories.

Off-the-Shelf vs Custom Developed Software

When choosing software developers, there's a fundamental decision any business needs to make. Do you grab something off-the-shelf or opt for custom software development? If you want a quick, basic, short-term option that’s initially cheap and will deliver an average customer experience, then you may be tempted by existing generic software.

Cheap doesn’t mean cheerful though, as off-the-shelf software applications, compared to bespoke software solutions could create business problems in the future. Why? Because it wasn’t built specifically for your business or users and to make it do what you need it to do, it could take constant and therefore expensive customisation.

You’re also probably paying for lots of functionality that is entirely irrelevant that your business would never use. Plus, integrations could be difficult or impossible to make and if you need upgrades to incorporate cutting-edge technologies, you’re completely in the hands of the software provider who may, or may not make the necessary changes.

Custom software development is a whole different ballgame. It's a solution that can give businesses, in any sector from financial services to supply chain reliant retailing, a better customer experience and a real competitive advantage.

Top 10 Advantages of Custom Developed Software

Here are 10 benefits of developing custom software to suit a business' or organisation's needs:

  • 1. It's tailored

    Custom software development and app development creates software applications tailored to your business needs and your customer needs. You can bank on getting all the features you need in one bespoke streamlined solution.

  • 2. It's optimised

    Bespoke software is optimized to your business processes. It’s designed to work with the way you work. It fits with you, not the other way around.

  • 3. It's flexible

    You call the shots with custom software. You get to use the technologies you want, whether they be new emerging artificial intelligence or tried, tested and trusted IT.

  • 4. It’s reliable

    Custom software development produces well-tested and tailored apps with true integrity that can be integrated with your business processes and relied on to grow your business.

  • 5. You own it

    With a custom software solution, it’s yours. Because you own the intellectual property rights, you have complete control over the scale, customisation and functionality of the software. Total IP freedom.

  • 6. It's adaptable

    Custom software is so much more adaptable and compatible. It can change as markets, processes and technologies change.

  • 7. It's inclusive

    Collaboration is key and custom software enables teams to work together creating content and contribute ideas.

  • 8. It automates

    Custom software development helps you to automate the movement of data, repetitive tasks and the management of business workflows.

  • 9. You control it

    You can control access to centralised and streamlined data. You get to grant user-defined permissions and improve business workflow.

  • 10. It's the future

    Looking to the future, custom software development is scalable. It can grow as your business grows. You and your customers aren’t saddled with or constricted by outmoded software.

11 Steps of Custom Software Development

We’ve seen the pros and the cons of the two software development options. Now we’ve defined exactly what custom written software is, let’s look at how we at AVAMAE go about delivering custom written software.

Custom software development UK companies all work differently. At AVAMAE we offer our Monthly Managed Services Contracts for the more agile approach as well as Fixed Price Development for those with a fixed budget in mind.

  • 1. Initial Briefing

    We meet with you face-to-face or via a video or audio conference call to get to know you, probe issues, understand your customers, business needs and the custom software project’s objectives and challenges. We’ll create a strategy and share our thoughts with all team members.

  • 2. Estimation Proposal

    Next, we take our briefing notes and recordings then discuss everything internally with our Business Analyst team and Solution Architect. We put together an estimation document that details our understanding of the build, using our years of experience across multiple industries to add suggestions of how we can make your web, app, software function and perform better.

    Finally, we produce a high-level overview of our understanding of the build, complete with an estimation for cost and time.

  • 3. Proposal Creation

    Highly detailed, our proposal contains everything including what your software will do, the time estimated and a fixed budget you can bank on. The proposal is a template for our team of designers and engineers to create your final software. It also breaks your project down into user roles, modules or screens and individual user stories and acceptance criteria.

  • 4. Proposal Sign-off

    Read, understand and agree with the proposal, fixed costs and timings fully before signing it off. If you need changes, we’ll update and resubmit the proposal to ensure you’re 100% satisfied.

  • 5. Project Managers

    A dedicated Project Manager from our Customer Success Team will work closely together with you to move the process forward to the agreed project timeline. Together, we’ll keep things moving and running like clockwork. One direct contact keeps things simple, communications clear and avoids complications.

  • 6. Designing the Journey

    We design the user journey based on the agreed user stories and acceptance criteria. We work closely with you when designing your software, discussing design ideas, then present our initial concepts using InVision. Design workshops give you the chance to give us your thoughts on our designs.

  • 7. UI Prototyping

    Our experienced UX designers take the signed off designs and create a full user interface prototype that mimics how the finished custom software, site or app will look and function for customers. We then take your feedback on user experiences and design and tweak the prototype.

  • 8. Building with React

    Our engineering team uses React to write web applications entirely in JavaScript. This gives greater functionality and keeps code simple. We break the applications down into components to speed up development and reduce bugs. The result is a cleaner software solution.

  • 9. Back End Dev

    Our back-end engineers work using a combination of ASP.NET Core and SQL server, two of the most popular server-side technologies in use today. ASP.NET Core is a cross-platform application framework written in the C# programming language. It can be run on Linux, Mac and Windows on-premises servers or in the cloud with great performance all around.

  • 10. Azure Hosting

    The Microsoft Azure Platform provides one of the best and most cost-effective ways of setting up a scalable and highly available hosting infrastructure and provides a solution for anything from the smallest to the very largest projects. The off-the-shelf security measures that sit around the solution make complying with ISO 27001:2013 and GDPR at a hardware and operating system level simple to achieve.

  • 11. Pre-launch Tests

    Our internal testing team checks the software and then you review it module-by-module. We test every aspect of the software. We test against W3C AA Standards for Accessibility, test websites across key browsers and apps on the operating system they’re built for. To validate the security of software, web and mobile, we finally conduct thorough OWASP ® testing – a set of principles we follow to protect the security of our clients.

Support & Managed Services

Once your software is successfully launched, you should ensure that you have proper support and application management. There are various custom software development services out there that provide ongoing post launch support. We offer various Support Service Levels which are designed to cater for all requirements.

If you wish to evolve your custom-built software, our Monthly Managed Services Contracts continue to give you access to our designers and engineers. These are a highly efficient and cost-effective way to ensure you have a Project Manager and the design and development expertise whenever you need them. The cost is fixed so you know exactly where you are budget-wise. This is a great way to enjoy the freedom to adapt to changing priorities and put new creative ideas into action.

How to Choose a Custom Software Development Company

Not all application development companies are the same. There are several things you should look for when selecting a custom software development services firm. Here is our checklist:

Experience

Does the custom software developer have vast and relevant development experience? For example, AVAMAE has been developing innovative bespoke software for businesses in house for over 10 years. Request evidence of their application development experience and don’t be afraid to ask awkward questions about their software development services.

Team

Try to actually meet the software development team who would be working on your software applications project. Ensure the team includes everyone from a dedicated project manager to inspiring designers and highly qualified engineers. If the custom software development company is being evasive, maybe they are hiding the fact that they don’t actually have the skills in house and would outsource to a third party which could be problematic. We’re always open and honest and never outsource – meet our team.

Tech

With any custom written software project, technology is incredibly important. For example, the Technology Stack we use is built with robust, secure and scalable technologies – C#/.NET on the back end, React on the front end. Check out our comprehensive Tech Stack and see how it stacks up to any other custom software development business out there.

Proof

Talk is cheap. What you really want to see when selecting a bespoke software developer is an impressive portfolio of custom software examples. Check to see that there has been genuine innovation involved and that the challenges of the development brief were solved in a user-friendly way. View our extensive portfolio of software development case studies.

Future

Check what custom software development services the developers offer post launch. The last thing you want is to be reliant on a software vendor who isn’t interested in you once software projects are delivered. Ongoing application management and development is forward-thinking. We want to build long-term relationships for growth with clients which is why we offer a choice of Support Service Levels and Monthly Managed Services Contracts to evolve your custom built software application.

Get a free quote for your software project

You know the advantages of custom written software. You know what to look for in a custom software development company. If you’ve a project that you’d like to discuss with us and would like a free no-obligation quote that won't break the bank, we’re here to help and bring it in on budget.

Our phone number is +44 (0) 20 7509 6932 or you can email Robert.mcewan@avamae.co.uk and we can meet for a chat.

5 March 2021
Blog Author
Rob McEwan
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Companies we have developed software for:

Homebase
11 Cavendish Square
British Airways
Grazing Events
British Gas
Centrica
Service Monitor
Nine Avenue
Scottish Court
Foyles
Asit
Millerhare
ASDA
HSBC
LSE Lighting
UCLH
Experian
4D Model Making Materials
Imperial College
Criteo Live
Vulpine
Great Eastern
King's Fund
Compare Hospitality
eGigger
Grazing Food
Click Research
Argos
Gaimerz
Enigma Quests
Informa plc
All So Pro
Yell
Alliance Boots
Horizon Leeds
Jaguar Landrover
Buyfair
Harris Hill
Capita
Phones 4U
Skippy Scout
Iceland
Strengthscope Ltd
British Safety Council
Trait Online
Saudi Aramco
Companies Markets
Dober
TSI
Novartis
SmoQue Grill
Virtus
UTC Aerospace
GetSet4PE
Criterion
Fan Quake
Pauline Books & Media
Michael Northcroft
Reed Business Information
Manoto 1
Faber and Faber
Marshall
Saikou
CO-OP
Good2Bid
Capital Medicare
Petainer
Think we need to talk?
Got a software development project or app in mind? Let’s hook up, chat things through and we’ll come back with a free no-obligation quote. Call us on +44 (0) 20 3855 0690 or fill out the short form on our Contact Us page.