Custom Software Development
Find a Perfect Fit
Custom Software Development is the process of creating and maintaining software to meet an organization’s unique or specific needs that are generally not being met by off-the-shelf software.
This creates a two-side issue: On one side, off-the-shelf software isn’t robust enough to meet known challenges, so an organization is not as efficient or productive as it could be. On the other, new potential capabilities or improved outcomes cannot be realized because you don’t even know what might be possible were it not for the limitations of “stock” software. Custom Software solves both problems.
Custom Software Development can often involve many people, sometimes shifting priorities and often new, innovative approaches. The Proof of Concept is essential in crafting new custom solutions. As often a simple demonstration or illustration of a more robust final product can calibrate direction, uncover new requirements or demonstrate unforeseen challenges. The Proof of Concept strategy helps manage these things more easily (and affordably!) than meeting them head-on in the middle of development. Read on as we explore real-world scenarios, the multiple ways to think about a Proof of Concept and how it helps ensure success or minimize the ramifications of any failure in the conceptual portion of for your custom project.
Two Approaches for Proof of Concept
It’s helpful to think of two different approaches and goals for a Proof of Concept.
Proving the Technology
In one kind you’re building something completely new or with a new technical requirement, new tools, new technology or a new business objective. There can be some level of uncertainty of whether it will work, what will be involved, or will it meet expectations. In this Proof of Concept strategy a custom software developer might take a small, well-understood part of the project and develop something to show exactly how it will actually work. This could mean applying some integrations or writing some code that might not ultimately make it to the final project but helps in proving if it’s smart to take the next, more involved steps.
Proving the Company
With another Proof of Concept, you do have an understanding of what needs to be built and you are looking for the right custom software development company to build it. Here you might have a Proof of Concept developed to help you evaluate the company’s approach, talent, capabilities and so on before you make the larger commitment for a fully featured solution to be developed.
In both approaches the benefactor is you, the customer. You are either building a better understanding early on of the technological and functional perspective of a proposed project, or you are better positioning the right partner to help you build it.
Educating the Client with Proof of Concept
We firmly believe that the overall objective, and value, of the Proof of Concept is education and reducing risk. What technology is available? Will it work? Will it work easily and quickly?
For example, at InterSoft Associates we were once working with a client who wanted to make sure certain content was always showing up at a certain place within a website. For the solution to work required involvement from vendors and some others, so we distilled the larger project down to a simple Proof of Concept that basically ensured, if this thing we’re testing out is possible like we think it is, then we can automate later processes to solve the client’s overall objective. The idea was to overcome unknowns and the boundaries of what was possible in this project. In this case the cost was hundreds of dollars for the test, rather than thousands or tens of thousands for a fully developed solution. This, in turn, protected the customer.
Protecting the Customer
Education where the Proof of Concept is concerned is really a protection mechanism for the client – and is one reason why you, the potential customer, should insist on a Proof of Concept from any developer you’re working with on a unique solution or system.
A Proof of Concept helps define and understand the scope of a project, where maybe something will be harder, easier, more or less time consuming than anticipated. It helps realize points of failure. If the Proof of Concept doesn’t, in fact, turn out to work – why not? Often the path forward is made obvious when another, maybe presumed path turns out to be blocked or full of potential obstacles. The Proof of Concept also helps to more easily and quickly make adjustments. A left turn there, a slight shift here and this should work great can be simple and affordable at the Proof of Concept stage, where it might be a significant issue if the same observations are not made until you are deep into development, where changing code or direction can have problematic (and expensive) ramifications.
When is a Proof of Concept not necessary?
There are many commonalities in software development, which means often some existing system or process can be demonstrated to show competency. In this case a Proof of Concept might not be wholly necessary to validate a design. That demonstration, however, serves much the same purpose – to educate you on what’s possible, help you see what’s possible, and start a more informed dialog about what the right custom solution will involve.
A competent, professional custom software development company will do more than tell you, they’ll show you how an idea can be executed upon. A Proof of Concept helps to either answer questions or ask better questions, all in an effort to get to the right business solution. It’s an important part of the design process here at InterSoft Associates, and should be integral to your next custom software project.
Microsoft Power Apps Data Leak and the Business Advantages of Custom Software
When some 38 million data records were exposed because of a misconfiguration in Microsoft Power Apps, companies like American Airlines, J.B. Hunt, Microsoft itself and even city and state governments experienced significant fallout. Individuals’ personal vaccine records, job applicant databases and Social Security numbers were among the data exposed.
Microsoft Power Apps are a “low-code” Rapid Application Development tool for essentially designing software for those who do not know how to design software. Their obvious appeal is for people with little or no programming knowledge to quickly build relatively robust technology tools. This includes the ability to store records and pull data for use elsewhere. The misconfiguration in Power Apps was that all data types – including personally identifying information – was public instead of private.
The disaster raises important questions about the perceived cost savings of Do-It-Yourself solutions vs the advantages of a Custom Software Development initiative.
Can Low-Code Work For Your Culture?
A primary benefit of Custom Software to any business is the ability to tailor your software solution to suit the way your company works without changing your processes. While there can be a great deal of value in off-the-shelf solutions, many of them require significant customization and setup to turn a general solution into something specific for your organization’s vision.
There can be a danger to this approach because, if customizing an off-the-shelf solution is in order, the solution that is chosen can be a matter of preference or familiarity with internal “developers” in an organization. Rather than building a tool most suitable to business goals and objectives, the focus can be on adjusting an existing tool that somebody’s most familiar with – even though that tool might not be the appropriate solution in the first place! This is a common error made by internal, non-professional, developers.
This is, as ever, where a highly collaborative and consultative approach is essential. A discovery process, inherent to Custom Software Development at InterSoft Associates, helps uncover business priorities and work towards achieving those with appropriate technologies. Without that approach, technology can drive business priorities.
The Experienced, The Expert, or The Easy
As the remote workforce has become increasingly prevalent and relevant, companies have been scrambling to accommodate some of the technical demands of this reality. This is one reason why Power Apps and low or no-code solutions are popular and powerful – there is a perception that they are easy to use and quick to implement.
Again, that can be true. Power Apps can be a powerful part of an organization’s technology and data stack. But a hastiness to just get it built means inexperienced people are often creating apps and platforms. Security concerns are not always well understood and best practices are almost never followed. Default configurations and implications in cloud applications like Power Apps are not always well understood. In fact, Power Apps was not hacked or broken into as 39 million data records were exposed. The records were just defaulted to “public.” As Microsoft intended. A decade ago, this might not have been the issue it is today.
For off-the-shelf solutions, top priorities include ease of use, flexibility and access – priorities that are not generally aligned with security. This means default configurations, as with Power Apps, are often set incorrectly and are not well documented. For example, setting API calls to public is easier than private. Database access is simpler. Moreover, confidence in these platforms and their developers, like Microsoft, can make the people that are using them for development complacent. The presumption is somebody else is taking care of data security. Moreover, Power Apps and those that employ them can generally not interface well with third party software that is used by the enterprise.
With Custom Software done properly, there are no presumptions. When platforms and applications are developed from the ground up with data integrity, security and performance in mind, risk is more easily managed and avoided in the development process. Administrators will not be required later on to be solely responsible for important security and access thresholds. In addition, properly developed software keeps track of code revisions, is properly documented and can service the enterprise.
Should You Use Power Apps and other Low Code Development Tools?
Should you use low and no-code platforms like Power Apps? Maybe. Automation and integration apps are growing more sophisticated and powerful. Your business can easily benefit from putting this to work for you. On the other hand, Power Apps are best used to meet a particular need, usually for a small group or a small department – not for enterprise. In any case it is important to consider some key questions:
- Why this solution? If it is to augment or complement existing software or technology needs, low-code might be the right tool for the job. If it is because the IT person is familiar with it, you might regret the decision later on. If it is to avoid the perception of something more costly, consider a conversation with a custom software developer first to get a more complete picture.
- Will this solution be future proof? If the internal developer working on the no-code platform leaves next week, can somebody else pick things up in a timely fashion? Will the technology still work for you in a year or three or five? Can it grow with your needs as your company grows? As technologies grow?
- Do I understand any inherent risks? Does your internal developer know which default configurations to watch out for or change, and why? Do they understand what threat actors are looking out for and practice best security protocols? Are they even able to, given the nature of the tool in use?
Before getting seriously invested in the time and resource commitment to a no-code or low-code solution like Power Apps, give us a call. It is free, and we will never try to sell you something. With a better understanding of what you are trying to achieve and why, we can make suggestions to help you accomplish your goals more quickly, safely, and thought-out and help you to choose the appropriate tools for your solution.
At InterSoft Associates, we work on perfecting the art of providing the best Custom Software to businesses and organizations. This starts with developing an understanding not just of technical objectives, but business goals. What are you trying to achieve? What is stopping you? What problems are you facing, and who in your company is struggling most, or has the most opportunity for improvement or success? We employ a collaborative and highly consultative process that gains information from all key stakeholders. Our robust review strives to identify your needs and your goals – both short-term and long-term – and your current processes – both manual and automated.
Having the right software for your company is essential in helping you grow your business and improve your profit. Many important factors come into play in order to be an effective Custom Software development company.
What is Custom Software Development?
Custom Software Development is the process of creating and maintaining software to meet an organization’s unique or specific needs. These needs are generally not being met by off-the-shelf software, creating a two-sided issue: On one side, off-the-shelf software isn’t robust enough to meet known challenges, so an organization is not as efficient or productive as it could be. On the other, new potential capabilities or improved outcomes cannot be realized because you don’t even know what might be possible were it not for the limitations of “stock” software. Custom Software solves both problems.
In many cases, an organization would not know it needs Custom Software – it will only know that it is frustrated with the status quo. This can lead to frustrating, time consuming research on the capabilities of existing systems or what alternative off-the-shelf software might be a better fit. At InterSoft Associates, this is the key to our collaborative process: Before we focus on the technical elements, we explore the human elements. Through active listening and guided discovery the right Custom Software Development Company will help steer your strategic direction.
Once it is determined that Custom Software is the best strategic direction for your organization, a team of software developers helps to create the vision that they see for the organization. These developers should work directly and collaboratively with key members of your organization to clearly define the features and goals of the software and then implement the software that is required.
Commercial Software vs Custom Software
There are generally three common types of software.
Commercial software is an application that provides tools for general work. A popular example of commercial software is Microsoft Office, which allows users to perform office and productivity tasks.
Custom Software is software that helps your users perform very specific tasks that are unique to your organization in order to positively impact the business. When exploring if Custom Software development is right for you, a business or organization should typically seek out help from an experienced development team. As discussed, this should include a discovery process to better understand goals and objectives. Look for a Custom Software Development company that doesn’t just start writing code and flipping switches. You want a trusted advisor to guide you through what you might need, why, and how your Custom Software will address your specific opportunities and problems.
Benefits of Custom Software
There are a lot of situations where having Custom Software can be the ideal solution for a company.
Unique to a Company
Commercial Software is excellent for general office work, and off-the-shelf integrated software is designed with many different features. However, most businesses and organizations need access to software that is a little more unique and specific.
In determining that Custom Software is the right strategy, specific features can be developed to help a business with its particular needs, often helping them gain a competitive advantage. Trying to perform niche tasks on commercial software likely won’t get anyone very far and can be frustrating and inefficient; niche tasks just aren’t what off-the-shelf software is typically designed for. When there is a need, Custom Software Development and deployment is a great way to increase overall productivity and, ultimately, revenue.
Security is an issue that many companies do not consider when using Commercial Software. Yet as technology grows, threats to manipulating the code in common software are more and more prevalent.
When a company utilizes Custom Software, the risk of a security breach lessens significantly. Developers will need to create a custom code to go along with the software. Because the code is new and not on the market for regular consumers to buy, there’s less exposure to security threats like hacking and ransomware. Of course, it’s imperative that Custom Software is developed with best security practices in mind.
CCompatibility is another great benefit to having Custom Software, because part of the development process can include an understanding of how the software should integrate with other systems in use. Where many commercial software systems are limited in their capabilities to “talk” to other software, Custom Software should always be developed with this integration in mind.
Compatibility is another great benefit to having Custom Software, because part of the development process can include an understanding of how the software should integrate with other systems in use. Where many commercial software systems are limited in their capabilities to “talk” to other software, Custom Software should always be developed with this integration in mind.
Custom Software allows an organization to work efficiently and cohesively across entire systems. Increased efficiency leads to time, and ultimately cost savings.
The Importance of a Design and Development Process
Where software development allows a team of programmers to create and complete a series of tasks, the development only happens after a consultative design is achieved. This is why at InterSoft, our IsAware process starts with discovery, before development.
A robust and effective design and development process is essential to creating a software system that meets the needs of an organization for many years to come. The steps of a development process should involve interactions with stakeholders to explore objectives, understanding functional requirements, and implementation strategies. At InterSoft Associates, we have perfected our Custom Software development process and credit it with our continued success.
The InterSoft Associates’ Interview Process
Our first and most crucial step in our development process is properly identifying the requirements of a business. To accomplish this first step, we conduct thorough interviews with the organizations that we work with.
We interview stakeholders and conduct an in-depth review of all business processes within the organization. The analysis that we perform on an organization’s work processes allows us to pinpoint all business touch-points and then defines how Custom Software can help achieve business goals and opportunities as well as any other problems that may exist..
Development interviews extend to all of management, employees and project managers who will be using the software. Interviews can also extend to those who have helped create designs and developed similar Custom Software programs within our organization.
Not only do we need to gather information to develop software, but interviews also allow us to build healthy business relationships, learn more about the organization, and help us develop a common vocabulary for the project. After this discovery process we can then move to understanding functional requirements and building project plans.
Understanding the inner workings of a business on a professional and personal level is what helps us establish our long-term clients.
The Importance of Long-Term Partnerships
At InterSoft Associates, we view every client as a new partnership. By establishing a partnership, we can do our jobs better and serve you better as well.
Close communication with a business or organization means that we can respond to any issues quickly, and we can stay current to our clients’ upcoming projects. A trusted long-term partnership also lets us innovate and adapt to emerging trends or needs that will shape the evolution of how Custom Software continues to be meaningful to you, our client. This helps companies avoid the struggles of legacy or outdated software, and it ensures that custom systems will continue to integrate with new software solutions a company adopts.
Software Testing Process
To provide high-quality software, a developer team must put their software through a rigorous testing process. The process is to ensure that there are no flaws in the end product. Implementing Custom Software successfully is only possible with a robust testing process.
At InterSoft Associates, we continuously work on perfecting our Custom Software testing process. Our testing and review processes aren’t just designed for flawless technical performance, but to make refinements with a client’s feedback. The software is reviewed, demonstrated and revised as it is being developed. This iterative process helps to ensure that all objectives are being met as the software development project moves forward. In the rare case of issues arising, these can be dealt with and resolved quickly, with minimum impact on project timing and cost. We also have our developers perform tests on the software during development and production. Every part of our team is a link in a chain of high-quality assurance for our Custom Software. A thorough testing process helps us develop software to perform as expected while revealing any situations we didn’t expect so they can be accounted for in continued development.
At InterSoft Associates we prioritize our personal and business connections with our clients. We involve our clients in the process of designing and in the testing process for their Custom Software, including in creating a testing plan and in conducting their own internal reviews. We compare our clients’ experiences with our own development team’s.
Collaborating with our clients is one of the countless ways we at InterSoft Associates maintain our long-term clients. Allowing our clients to take part in the process builds trust and educates everyone involved, including us.
For a Custom Software Development Company, strategies are essential in creating a Custom Software product. To develop our Custom Software, InterSoft Associates uses a step-by-step system to create the best software solutions possible. After a thorough Discovery process and developing an understanding of functional requirements, we begin Design.
A Design Document provides details about the requirements and goals of the new software, in response to what we’ve learned in the Discovery process. This may include business rules, key data elements, processes, and workflow definitions. We align with clients on operational, managerial, and decision support information and reports. The Design Document is shared with all key stakeholders, reviewed, and modified accordingly until it is approved.
Create a Final Project Plan
The creation of a development strategy and plan is vital for providing a framework for successful system development and implementation. In our case, our Final Project Plan also details the Custom Software development projects plan and analysis of expected benefits to the client. Major milestones and project timing help keep everybody accountable to delivery dates and positive forward progress.
If you’re keeping score, it’s only now – five steps into our Custom Software Development process, that we actually start development. Everything to this point has been about listening, aligning, and creating a development strategy.
As we develop your Custom Software, we use an iterative methodology that demonstrates work-in-process and allows users to “take it for a ride.”
This approach has two major benefits: it ensures that users’ expectations are aligned, and this approach often fosters new ideas based on what was demonstrated.
The development process naturally helps us iterate any scope or timing changes as a result of in-process reviews. After rigorous testing and once we’re all confident in the outcomes, we move to System Implementation and deploy the Custom Software throughout the organization, ready to deliver on key objectives.
After deploying the software, regular review meetings should be scheduled within the first 90 days to review issues and any new requirements or capabilities that can help the organization. After this initial period, meetings, usually quarterly, should be scheduled to answer questions, address issues, and discuss opportunities for improvement.
More About InterSoft Associates
InterSoft Associates has been in the game for over 20 years now. We work endlessly to improve our techniques and help develop and create the best Custom Software to help our clients. Whether a business is big or small, we treat each client in the same friendly and professional manner.
Our goal is to work with our clients to help them achieve what they need to accomplish. We don’t merely provide a service, we provide our clients with an engaging experience.
InterSoft Associates brings a spirit of innovation and collaboration to Custom Software development. We understand that the world of technology is changing. Mobile applications, social media, and the overall internet are changing the way we handle our office work. At InterSoft Associates, we use emerging capabilities and evolutions in technology to your advantage.
To be a good Custom Software development company, the company must have a process and a strategy. The company must also show support for its clients, long-term or short-term.
InterSoft Associates has been working for the past 20 years to provide support and satisfaction to our clients. Each client is a potential long-term business partner in our eyes, and we treat them as such.
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Software solutions from InterSoft Associates will fit your company exactly and our success rate ensures that it will meet or exceed your expectations.
Download 8 Critical Questions to Ask a Custom Software Developer and avoid common (and expensive!) mistakes.
8 Critical Questions to Ask
Before you hire a custom software developer, learn what to ask and what to watch out for!