8 Tips for planning bespoke software
15 Feb 2022
How often have you wished that certain processes within your business could be completed more efficiently? Or that you want to engage your audience more effectively? Bespoke software, also known as custom software or tailored software (you get the idea) is software such as apps or CRMs that have been created to the specific needs of a business or user. Here are some tips to consider when planning bespoke software.
1. What do you need and why?
Investing in bespoke software should start with an informed decision. First, you should start with research and analysis - this will help you to understand whether creating custom software is the right route for your business. When we are approached by businesses who want to work with us on a software development project, we always start with these questions:
- What problem will the software solve?
- What is your vision?
- Do you have a budget?
- Have you determined a timescale for the software development project?
- What do you want the software to do?
- Is there similar software or frameworks currently on the market?
- Who is the target market?
- How many people do you forecast will use this software?
- What impact will it have on your business?
- Does it need to integrate with other software and current systems?
And many more questions. We leave no stone unturned. When we have answers to all these questions, we are able to create a plan! You need to make a plan before you start spending any money on custom software for your organisation.
2. Who are your software users?
Do you know who your users are? Truly understanding your users’ needs will make the process of building your bespoke software far easier. Remember, you need to convince users to adopt the software so it should provide them with a solution that really helps them. Know their pain points and plan to eradicate them!
3. Identify potential issues
What problems might you encounter in developing the software? Is budget an issue, or timescales? Does the software need to work with other systems? Share this information with your developer so they can plan to find ways around issues from the outset. It might be decided to implement the software in phases or begin with a prototype.
4. Compatibility and integration
We’ve just touched on this. Do you have other systems with which the software needs to be compatible or integrated? Your software developer can help you research the possibilities and limitations, or you can research it yourself. Either way, finding out about this early on in the process could save a lot of time further down the line.
5. Prioritise the features
Having identified potential hurdles and compatibility issues you may find you can’t have it all. It’s therefore advisable to have a priority list of features. You may decide that you don’t need to launch with all features in place so you can get started more quickly with just the priorities. You can then put together a plan for additional features and when they should be implemented.
Insight into customer data, service performance and functionality is invaluable when using bespoke software. Deciding on the reporting you need at the planning stage will optimise the information you receive which can be used to boost marketing and sales strategies. Part of software development is to agree on a reporting format that is easy to use and flexible to accommodate any changes.
7. The launch
You can opt for a soft launch to targeted users, or a full launch. Regardless of which you choose, you need to be prepared with data migration, user training and promotional assets.
8. Maintenance agreement
Once launched, a maintenance agreement will ensure that your bespoke software runs smoothly and is regularly reviewed and scaled to the needs of your business.
Check with your software provider who will own the source code and rights to your software. In effect, you as the bespoke software purchaser should be the owner. BUT, not all software companies will give you the rights. Before hiring a software development agency, ask for this information, and get written confirmation that you will be the owner. Some of our clients send us an intellectual property document from their legal team that we sign to agree to these terms.