The untold secrets to the right software
Is it time for you to begin the software selection process? If so, you are probably weighing the pros and cons of a commercial-off-the-shelf solution (COTS) and a custom software solution.
First, you should evaluate your business needs and goals. Thus, allowing you to determine any features you want in a software solution. Whether you are a large corporation or a small startup, choosing a solution can be a daunting task. To help make the selection process a little easier, we will discuss situations when you should lean towards custom development and when you should lean toward COTS.
COTS vs. Custom Software
Custom software is a customized software solution that is tailored to meet the end users’ specific needs. As a result, there are no two custom software solutions alike. In contrast, an off-the-shelf solution is a mass-marketed software that is designed to meet common needs. With custom software solutions being so unique, it can be hard to visualize a custom software solution. Let's review how to properly use software selection tools:
Examples of Custom Software
Data management system
An online database can help your organization, create, and share reports within different departments. By creating a custom database you can include features that are relevant to your organization, such as a feature that will translate documents or store folders to manage users’ data. An online and user-friendly database will also allow you to pull reports and share with relevant internal and external stakeholders. This centralized location will eliminate the use of multiple spreadsheets.
Study management system
study management system can help clinical research organization better organize their studies and operations digitally. Thus, eliminating manual processes and the use of multiple spreadsheets. Within this system, you can include custom features, such as a section for patients and providers to share feedback, study status, or a calendar for scheduling visits. With a custom system, you can also create forms and reports that can be shared with restricted users.
Document management system
There are many types of important types of documents for each industry. For example, in the legal industry, it is important to manage cases and client information. A case management system may include a calendar to coordinate client meeting and deadlines, different folders to store client documentation, and a billing system to ease the billing process.
Grant management system
For fund-seeking organizations, managing grants is a core component of the business. By customizing a management system, you can include features that are most important to helping your business success. A grant management system could include forms for requesting and submitting grants, the status of grants submissions, approvals, or drafts, and be integrated with accounting tools and email servers.
Knowledge management system
Knowledge Management is power and its imperative to a company’s success. That’s why a knowledge management system is a great solution to storing and organizing all the company’s knowledge. With a custom system, you can store and share relevant information with all company employees or restricted employees. You can also create the system so that each department has a section to store and share files, calendars, and other information within the department.
Decide on custom development
If there are no COTS that meets your business’ needs:
Every company has unique needs. Some of these needs are so specific that choosing a COTS would disrupt existing processes, thus, causing frustration among team members. One of the benefits of a custom software solution is that you are starting with a blank slate. Therefore, you can add features that will meet your company’s specific needs. Additionally, you will not be paying for features you wouldn’t use. Software selection is an art!
If you have strict workflows:
When choosing a COTS, your users will most likely have to change their workflows to adapt to the new system. If your organization already has strict workflows, modifying current workflows may significantly impede existing processes. As a result, custom software is probably the best solution. Additionally, a custom solution is a great way to streamline processes through workflow automation.
If planning for the future
When designing your custom software, you can plan for future growth while ensuring the system will meet your current needs. You can also incorporate additional development features, like updates and enhancements. When choosing a COTS, it is almost impossible to ensure that the solution will be scalable. Thus, you may be searching for a new system in just a few years.
Decide on COTS:
If you saw a product that could work for you:
While you were researching or trying out a demo, you may have come across a product that catches your interest. If you liked the way a product works, and it will suit the needs of end users, then choosing a COTS may be the right solution. Additionally, an existing product gives you an exact visual and representation of the final product.
If you are looking for an immediate solution in your software selection: If time is of the essence, then choosing a COTS may be the best solution. It can take months to develop a custom software solution. Before the project even starts, there is usually a requirements gathering session to identify pain points. Then, there is the process of implementing feedback to ensure the solution will meet the end users’ requirements.