Is a Custom Application Development Project Appropriate for My Business?
Custom Application Development is not for every business. In many cases there are standard programs (off-the-shelf) that can perform all the tasks you need sufficiently. Also programs like Microsoft Business Systems Accounting and Quickbooks and many others can and should handle standard accounting tasks. These programs are good at what they do because Accounting is a very standardized process and is unlikely to be your competitive edge.
However, small business is a reflection of the management team and frequently of one or two people who start a company. Just as personalities are different, companies are different, and have their own personalities. It is frequently the case where two companies that make competing products or have competing services, actually operate completely differently. In the competition for both customers and great employees, that personality can make the major difference between mediocre results and great success.
So how does Application Development fit in? There are operations in many businesses that require a great deal of information and frequently need to be acted on by many people over a process. Getting the right information to the right people at the right time using paper is cumbersome. Computers have aided that process by managing and (frequently) not losing the information on someone’s desk or in their briefcase. However, applications that are standardized, cannot handle the specific personality of your business, and if that’s your niche or your competitive edge, then custom application development becomes an option.
How do you know if this applies to you? Do you have databases that have sprung up in Access or other personal databases that are now being relied on by many people? Do you have someone who is creating huge unwieldy spreadsheets that many people need to keep updated? Do you have a person called a programmer or ‘Access guru’ that you fear will one day disappear? All of these are indicators that you have a need. Other indicators are frequent questions around the office like “Do you know if …”, “What is the status of …”, “Who knows where we are with …” These are indicators that the right information is not available when needed.
Squaretree has analyzed many companies over the years and helped a good percentage of those. Sometimes we decide with the client that Custom Application Development is not necessary for the circumstances, the systems and processes are likely to fit just fine in a standard program. Many times however, we are able to steer a company through a successful application development cycle that results in a reliable and manageable program that meets their needs, saves time and money, and increases productivity.