Bespoke Software Development Advantages and Disadvantages

Anna Buczak
05 January 2021 · 7 min read

Today, business owners and managers have more choices than ever when it comes to building software. There are no-code solutions, you can hire freelancers, or outsource your entire project to a bespoke software development company like us.

To help you decide, this article will provide you with the benefits and disadvantages of bespoke software development.

Bespoke software development definition

We covered all crucial information in our bespoke software development guide, but in case you haven’t read it — bespoke software is the same as custom software.

It’s built from the ground up according to your individual business needs. You can hire a team and do it in-house, or hire a development company to do it for you.

Okay, let’s move on to our main topic, and dive into the advantages and disadvantages of custom, or bespoke, development.

Advantages of bespoke software development

We’re a software development company for hire, so we’ll focus on the perspective of outsourcing software development. However, as mentioned above, you can build custom software in-house, but that comes with a whole different set of benefits and challenges, which we described in the comparison article: Inhouse Software Development or Outsourcing?

Security - keep your data safe

Data is the gold of the digital economy. The more customers you have, especially in niche markets, the more likely it is that hackers will try to steal your gold.

There are two ways in which bespoke software development ensures greater security of your data:

  • When you outsource your project to a software agency, it’s built by experts who have vast experience in building similar projects. They know what can go wrong, how to prevent hackers from gaining access to your software, and how to make sure your data stays safe.
  • With custom development, you’re in control of how secure you want your app to be. If you want military-grade protection, that’s exactly what you’ll get. If you have specific requirements regarding how your data is stored and managed, all of them can be met.

Scalability — scale up without growing pains

If scalability is one of your priorities, bespoke software is built with that in mind. As your user base gets bigger, scaling up your app isn’t a challenge, because it’s designed to scale up.

In software development, we can speak about scalability in two areas:

  • Growing the number of customers, and your software’s ability to handle it
  • Hardware infrastructure, and your software’s capability to handle future innovations

Depending on your budget and project specifics, bespoke software can be optimized to meet your exact scalability requirements.

Cover all of your business needs

Consider this: if ecommerce stores all have the same goal (sell products online), why are there so many custom ecommerce development companies? As of today, there are almost 13,000 of them just on Clutch.

Even within a market that seems so narrow, business needs still vary. In ecommerce, it’s all about beautiful design and a seamless user experience. Some would say that you can build a store yourself with a suite like Shopify. You can, but if you’re going to experience even minor growth, you’re going to need Shopify developers anyways to make sure your store doesn’t flop.

Plus, using a no-code suite often comes with an overhead cost of a lot of code that you don’t need. Custom software can be built to cover just the functionalities you need, in a streamlined, agile way. All you need, without any dead weight.

Increased productivity (automating repetitive tasks unique to your workflow)

Bespoke software development isn’t just for building customer-centric products or platforms. It’s also about building internal tools that automate your work, and make your company run smoothly.

Even though a huge chunk of the business world has been digitised, there are still a lot of areas where you can’t find an off-the-shelf solution.

This gets even more difficult if your business relies on legacy software, or you combine manual workflows with multiple different programs.

Custom software development is the perfect solution in these cases, because it can be the glue that connects all the different parts of your business.

Competitive advantage — differentiate your business from competitors

Whether it’s an internal tool that your competitors don’t have, a unique application, or a platform that’s different from everything else out there, custom software gives you a competitive advantage.

In competitive markets, customers can be won with small optimizations. An algorithm that always recommends the right product to customers. An automated workflow that helps your staff deliver better customer support. An interface design that makes users happy to use your app.

These may seem like little things, but it’s where the digital battle is won. The devil is in the details, and to craft these details and get them right, bespoke software development is your best bet.

Disadvantages of bespoke software development

Bespoke software development is not always the best choice. It all depends on your unique business model, budget, and multiple other factors. Consider these disadvantages to make sure that bespoke development is the right way for you.

Time

If you’re just starting out, testing an idea, trying to validate it with the market, bespoke development may take too much time. Mainly because the process of building custom software takes a while. It has several phases which are necessary to create what you need.

It takes at least a few weeks before any code is written. If your idea is simple enough, you can build MVP which is small in size with a no-code solution in much less time. Once you validate your idea, building a bespoke version of your product can be the second step.

Higher costs

You generally don’t want to invest in custom software development when you don’t have a solid business plan, and you don’t know if it will pay off.

The costs of bespoke software development are high, so it’s an option you should take only when you know that you’ll get it back, or if you have enough funds to play around with an idea without needing it to generate returns.

Of course it’s not always a clear yes/no answer. If you’re not sure if your software idea is viable, you can consult your software provider. At Ulam Labs, if we know that something won’t work, we suggest a different route. We’re not code monkeys — the business case is just as important as the technology stack.

Overwhelming technology choices

There is so much tech out there. Which programming languages should your product be built in? Which libraries, frameworks, and third-party services will provide the best user-experience?

These are just some of the questions that you need to answer. Working with a software development company, you won’t need to make all of these choices yourself.

But you still should have general knowledge of the consequences that your technology choices carry with them. These choices can have long-term consequences that might snowball over time, and become very costly to solve.

That’s why it’s so important to know your business model in and out. When your priorities are crystal clear, it’s much easier for your software agency to choose technology that will support your business goals and let your company reach new heights.

Need for support

Custom software doesn’t take care of itself. Such software needs long-term maintenance, security updates, and often also new features. You might need to make changes if customer feedback suggests so.

Think of custom software as a living organism more than a static codebase. It’s not enough to just release it onto your customers or team members, and hope for the best.

It’s necessary to monitor performance, make sure everything is working, and keep your software healthy.

Wrapping up pros and cons

This development model doesn’t fit every business model. It takes a while to complete a project, you need to be aware of the costs, and development doesn’t end with the finished product, there’s also a need for long-term maintenance.

But when it’s a viable option, then it can be a great way to build secure, scalable software that covers all of your business needs without unnecessary features, and gives you a powerful competitive advantage in your market.

If you need custom software to manage your operations or delight your customers, contact us - we’ll work out the right technology for your business model, and build world-class software that meets all of your demands.

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