How Startups Can Benefit From Custom Software Development
Startups commonly face the dilemma: should I develop something from scratch or use ready-made software? Spoiler: it totally depends on the product you're planning to build.
Opting for third-party tools often seems like an alluring way to cut corners. For instance, you probably won't need many coding skills to put together a basic website using a no-code drag-and-drop constructor. Fair enough, this path may allow you to hit the market faster or reduce costs on developer salaries (if you're just paying for using the SaaS). Yet it does have a flip side: this only makes sense when you're planning something small, simple, and standard.
What if you have a more technically complex solution in mind? In this case, by choosing off-the-shelf software and tools, you'll most likely follow in the footsteps of hundreds of startups that "grew out" of the functionality provided out of the box sooner than expected. Just like them, you can end up rebuilding the solution from square one to actually fit your needs. So why do things twice?
On this page, we'll discuss the custom software development benefits for startups, explaining what the process implies and what you can expect as a result and in the long run.
What Is Custom Software Development?
Developing custom software means creating something unique and tailored to your business needs from start to finish. For example, you can build an MVP by coding it from the ground up instead of using third-party software, which might lack the functionality you're seeking your product to have.
By opting for custom development, you move step by step to build a unique product that'll be completely yours. You'll make center-spot feature prioritization decisions and shape the solution to address specific user demands, needs, and expectations. Of course, this doesn't necessarily imply that your custom software should be intricate and feature-rich straight away; you can add functionality gradually.
When you've finalized the product idea, you'll need an experienced web development team to:
- plan the project and scope ahead;
- work on the design;
- develop the product and check it using QA testing;
- launch the MVP;
- and continue its support and further development afterward.
Is Building Custom Software the Way to Go for All Startups?
Both custom and off-the-shelf options have their ups and downs. And not all startups follow the custom development path when launching a startup.
As shortly mentioned above, choosing in favor of package software (and not working on something of your own) can make sense for those who:
- aim at an uncomplicated and small solution;
- want to see the product live in the shortest time frames
- found a ready-made package that suits all business requirements.
In a recent exclusive interview with the co-founder of BitsForDigits, Jan-Philipp Peters shared his story with Upsilon about how they rolled out their acquisition marketplace, which was created with no-code tools. The founders have no regrets about this choice, but they are currently rebuilding the backend and have the long-term goal of finding a team of developers to rebuild the whole thing more natively.
This brings us to an important question: why do startups need to go custom?
The major reason is that package solutions are created to cater to a broad audience, so they provide a general and standard set of features that are customizable to a certain extent. The set often includes functionality that your product doesn't need, but you'll be paying for it, and it might be slowing down the performance too.
Furthermore, your processes and workflows will change. So when you'll need to modify your solution accordingly, you most likely won't have the needed flexibility. Due to the package solutions' existing limits, at some point, you will reach a stalemate. This issue may come up when you decide to grow your solution or move in a different direction that's not incorporated into the functionality outlined by "templates". In a sense, you'll either be stuck with what you have or go for "duck taping". Do we have to mention that scaffolding can get hard and result in multiple roadblocks?
Hence, the best way out here is to build custom software. Especially if your solution implies non-standard functionality from the start or in the future. The custom path is a way to think ahead business-wise (in terms of planning, scaling, investment, effort, and time).
7 Benefits of Custom Software Development
As you see, creating custom software from day one can be a reasonable choice. Let's go over the advantages of custom software development to dot all the i's.
To give you an analogy, it's like choosing between building a house using modular construction (prefabricated rooms) or designing one yourself. The first option may be faster and can have a neat selection of designs on offer. Yet the second one gives you much more freedom of choice (materials, size, etc.).
In the software development case, uniqueness doesn't go down to distinctive UX and UI. Importantly, it also includes the capabilities of your solution: how it works and what it provides your users. This way, you meet your specific business requirements instead of attempting to adapt something ready-made. And the best part regards ownership: the solution will be yours.
Scalability and Flexibility
Unrivalled possibilities for customization are another ultimate benefit of the custom software approach. During the planning stage, you can think the solution through from start to finish (the architecture, the must-have feature set, and future add-ons). You get to mold your product bit by bit, expanding its possibilities according to your business and user needs as the product grows or when you decide to scale the startup.
Having all the flexibility to form your product, you can make changes in the UI, attach new features, and amend the current ones to your liking. There are no limits to making tweaks and major changes, as you're the one who controls how the solution is built and what it'll turn out to be.
Falling back on the previous comparison example, what if you want to expand the living room in your house or build a garage? Obviously, it'll be much easier to transform your own "blueprint" than one that has strict "wall sizes" and multiple other limits. Therefore, unmatched flexibility is a major point differentiating low-code vs traditional development.
Data security is one more important matter. Any business that holds sensitive customer data must ensure that it's safe from theft and other vulnerabilities. Thus, handling cybersecurity properly and keeping security standards high is an utmost priority.
Off-the-shelf software is usually more vulnerable to attacks. That's why having your own experienced team handle your product's security can be wiser than relying on a third party. At the end of the day, if something goes wrong and there's a leak, you'll be the one to get charged.
Continuous Technical Support
When it comes to supporting and maintaining your product, having your own team of developers at hand is a huge benefit.
To compare, if something goes wrong with the used third-party software, there's nothing you can do but report the problem and wait for the provider to fix it. You're completely dependent on the changes made on their end and have no control over how long it takes, often resulting in visible downtime. Not to mention that some software providers don't even have proper support, meaning you'll be looking through guides and instructions in an attempt to make things right by yourself.
Obviously, your own developers can handle occurring problems or performance issues right away.
Integration With Other Programs
In the scenario when you'd like to link up other business essential tools to your solution, ease of integration really matters.
You may be using various startup tools and external plugins, and their set can be altered over time. The same goes for customer preferences. So you must have the chance to simply connect plugins, extensions, and third-party tools without any restrictions. Or, alternatively, have the opportunity to build and attach something of your own.
Off-the-shelf software often puts bounds on what you can and cannot link up. For example, it might not support the payment gateway your clients prefer or a marketing tool that helps you track vital product performance metrics. If you go custom, almost anything is achievable in this respect, provided you have the resources.
Custom development also means that you're giving your clients a personalized approach. You get to control every step of the user journey, making improvements to the user experience when required. Of course, this aids in establishing stronger and longer-lasting relationships with customers, which is one of the benefits of custom software development.
Suppose you've discovered that your users prefer using bottom-placed navigation menus on mobile screens, or your solution can become more profitable with a unique feature that improves the sales funnel. You have the freedom to make it happen with custom development.
Why is custom software development more cost-efficient than off-the-shelf alternatives? It depends on how you look at it.
Again, things are quite straightforward with out-of-the-box solutions for simple apps and websites. But it is too common that paying a subscription fee for a package solution may seem affordable at first, yet this quickly changes when the company and its customer turnover expand. Plus, you might likely be paying for unneeded features that come in the package.
It usually gets challenging the minute you want to swipe away from the "standard provided functionality" path. As such, if you'll need a custom workflow for the third-party software you're using, it may come at a price (if it's at all possible).
Another point is migration cost. If you eventually decide to move your product that's based upon ready-made software or rebuild it as a custom solution, reach for your wallet. This is generally a long and complex process.
These are just several points highlighting the value and cost-effectiveness of developing custom software. Yes, you'll have to issue developer salaries, be it in-house software development or outsourcing. But it's an investment that pays off in the end.
You create your own product without relying on third parties, and this solution is yours to keep, which are definite advantages of custom software. And if you start with a minimum viable product that grows gradually, the overall solution pricing may be comparable.
How Upsilon Can Help with Custom Software Development
Creating custom software may sound too challenging for an early-stage startup, especially if you're planning something intricate and complicated. But a reliable software development partner can unburden you from irrational tech choices and advise you on the optimal path.
If you're looking for a trustworthy partner to help you bring your project ideas to life, Upsilon has ample experience in providing various custom software development services. We can help you build a high-quality product with a seamless user journey and may be with you every step of the way. For instance:
- go through the project discovery phase;
- assemble an experienced team;
- plan the work and break it down into sprints;
- help you build a product roadmap;
- develop and test the product;
- launch the solution and maintain it;
- among others.
Upsilon has helped multiple startups develop their products. So, if you have any questions or a project in mind, don't hesitate to contact us for a consultation with our experts or to get a quote (by the way, we use the sprint-based dedicated team pricing model).
So, should your startup choose custom development? Well, the final investment decision is up to you! A tailor-built solution can take several months to create, but it'll align with the particular business objectives and user needs from start to finish. As we've mentioned, uniqueness and flexibility are among the most important benefits of custom software development.
Nonetheless, if there are ready-made alternatives that have everything you need right out of the box, this option may also be worth considering. This path may bring a faster launch to the table which is especially important for MVP development for early-stage startups, but be prepared for possible stumbling blocks when you decide to scale your growth-stage business or add something that wasn't accounted for in the package.
In any event, building a custom solution can be comparable in terms of overall costs and pays off over time. Therefore, if you'd like to discuss your project, Upsilon will gladly consult you!