Hi I’m Mathew Grace, managing Director of Flying Donkey. Many people think they can’t afford custom software, but once your company achieves sustainability, custom software can make running your company easier, faster, and less costly. Once upon a time only the largest companies could afford custom software because they had to code everything from scratch which was time consuming and costly.
Because of developments in the software industry, custom software is now more affordable than ever. This makes it where more companies can utilise custom software.. The primary drivers in the reduction of the cost of custom software development are:
1. Use of software as services (ie. Send grid, stripe, etc.)
2. Existing code frameworks have expanded to include significant libraries of function
3. Greater consumer knowledge
4. Greater access to talent from anywhere in the world
5. Changes in licensing fees.
Let’s look closer at each of the drivers.
Use of SaaS
Almost all major software vendors have gone to an SaaS model, where you pay monthly for a software service you need such as a payment processor or email marketing platform. Most providers also offer different levels of services to accommodate companies that have different needs.
This makes it where many aspects that needed to be coded just need to be connected to your coding via an API. Integrate it and it’s ready to go. This is a HUGE benefit and greatly expands the ability to have custom software. SaaS and APIs can cut development costs by $10K per integration. Because many of the solutions are ready to be deployed quickly you can end up saving substantial amounts of time and money.
Existing code frameworks have expanded to include significant libraries of function.
Coding is just the language required to get the functionality needed. With coding repositories like github growing larger daily, more and more functions that are desired simply need to be found, not created. Once found they still need to be tested to verify there’s no flaws, but it is much quicker than trial and error to verify new code works as intended.
Lets use a New Button as an example. Before you’d have to figure out how to change the color of the new button and the logic it is supposed to use. Now the Library or Framework lets you use a color palette, insert a link, and mark other functionality you desire with a check box. It really saves time that is considered when developing proposals.
Greater Consumer Knowledge
During the earlier days of software development, most people had little understanding of what could be accomplished, what they needed, or how to explain it to someone. This made custom software a guessing game. Now people are more familiar with how software works, what they can achieve with it, and most importantly what matters most to achieving the organizational goals.
Knowing what you want makes the brainstorming, estimating, and prototyping phases shorter. When these are accurate and timely, projects cost less to complete because there is less risk and a more defined scope.
Greater Access to Talent
As the internet and business software has grown, it has made it easier to find the right talent for any job. Companies can now be located almost anywhere in the world and access top talent from around the globe. This leads to two potential ways of developing more affordable software.
1. Better talent
2. Exchange rates
Better talent knows the job, knows what needs to be done, and cranks it out. While you may pay more on an hourly basis, the time savings that come with already having done it before can easily outweigh the hourly rate of the develop. This makes perfect sense because the more someone has performed a task successfully, the more efficient they are.
Exchange Rates can lower the cost of a project dramatically. A full stack developer in Australia is probably going to cost over $100k/year (or over $50/hr) while one in Eastern Europe is under $50k/year (or $25/hr). Obviously there are different challenges based on where the software developers are located, but it can be a tremendous cost savings.
Changes in Licensing Fees
Once upon a time, most software vendors charged a flat fee and you could use the software for years. Today many have gone to the SaaS model with monthly fees. That makes it where that $100 software purchase is now $120/year. Even if you upgraded with each year, you are paying an extra 20% for the licensing fee.
Meanwhile custom software offers some benefits regarding licensing that OOTB models do not. When you pay for the development fee, there are no monthly licensing fees. If you pay for maintenance, you gain additional functionality that specifically meets your needs. In addition because you own the license, you can license it to other companies if you desire.
Combine all these together and what you are really focused on is “what software do I need that is unique to my business?”
Typically this will include:
- Proprietary information.
- Custom work flows.
- User interface.
- Network Architecture, etc.
Now you are focused on seeing just what you need to achieve your goals. The software makes it simpler, faster, and you know that it’s tailored for you. It can then grow as you need more functionality As you can see, there’s been some great advances in custom software development. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments or send me an email so I can help you decide if custom software is right for you.
I’m Mathew Grace.
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