The power of custom software is tremendous. You can create solutions that do anything. Literally anything. But with great power comes great responsibility.
Most people have no concept of what a custom software project even looks like, and very few people go through a custom software project in their lives/careers. For many of our clients, working with Far Reach is their first experience with a software project.
The custom software process is unlike any other type of project. You start with a vision and goals, build the system iteratively, and end up with something you couldn’t have pictured at the beginning of the process, even if you thought you knew
exactly what you wanted.
Juxtapose that process with that of building a house where you have a blueprint, measurements, materials, and everything defined before you dig the first scoop of dirt.
For those who’ve never experienced it, here are four things that make the custom software development process one-of-a-kind.
1. Custom Software Development Is a Continuous Learning Experience
As soon as you’ve decided to develop custom software instead of buying an off-the-shelf solution, your learning process begins. And sadly, there’s no “how to manage custom software development” course or degree. You have to learn
as you go.
This is why choosing the right development partner can make a tremendous difference. A team with experience can guide you through the process, educating and informing you about what to expect all along the way. While experienced development shops probably
don’t have a course to walk you step-by-step through the ins and outs of how custom software development works, they’ve likely done hundreds of projects and know what to look for throughout the project lifecycle, bringing this experience
to bear on your project (and, hopefully, educating you along the way).
2. A Lot of Things Can Change Along the Way
In construction, you know exactly what a building is going to look like long before you start digging the foundation. Custom software development is different. It’s so different, in fact, that the predominant project management methodology used
for software projects these days—agile—was designed
specifically to respond to change more fluidly, getting the software into users’ hands quickly to get feedback and incorporate
Since anything can be customized in custom software, chances are you will change your mind along the way—often as you learn new information from internal and user research. You will add or remove features, reprioritize functionality, or even make
small changes with a big impact, like defining user permissions.
Balancing functionality and ease of use is a tall order. In
our process, we emphasize how important the “Learn” and “Define”
stages are for setting up the success of the entire project. This is where we define the real value-drivers—the things we should focus on during the development (“Execute”) phase.
We work alongside our clients to find the right balance between usability and functionality, so that, in the end, you have a solution that helps you meet your goals for the long run.
Which brings us to the next point.
3. Custom Software Development Is an Ongoing Commitment
If you look at most software development process descriptions online, you’ll find they have a peculiar thing in common: the list of phases ends with something along the lines of “Deployment & Final Testing.”
Why is this strange?
Well, because it’s custom software we’re talking about. A custom solution is like a living thing that evolves along with your company’s needs. “Final” is a misnomer in this case. Systems should be built with scalability
and ease of enhancement in mind if you want to maximize your investment.
As industries change and your company grows or downsizes, you’ll likely need to make adjustments to your software. You may need to scale for more users without slowing down the system, delete certain obsolete features, add new features for new workflows,
and so on.
In the vast majority of cases, it doesn’t make sense to stop developing your solution as soon as you reach a somewhat satisfactory version and launch an MVP.
The whole point of foregoing an off-the-shelf solution is to have something that’s tailor-made to your needs not just today, but for the foreseeable future as well.
The benefits of custom software come with a long-term commitment. Hosting, support, and third-party integrations are just a few of the things you will have to keep in mind and budget for. You can read more about why custom software development is a long-term investment here.
4. It’s a Collaborative Process
If your company doesn’t already have a development team, venturing into custom software development can be intimidating. In this case, if you’ve done your due diligence and determined that a custom solution is the way to go, it’s probably
in your best interests to outsource the entire process to a trustworthy
development partner rather than recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and managing a team of developers yourself. The right partner can support you and the software they develop over the long term. Or they can gradually transition support to an in-house
team you assemble over time, if that’s what makes sense for your business.
The right partner should feel like an extension of your team—but one with a fresh new perspective. During the analysis phase of the project, your partner will get to know your business better, as well as your goals and your needs. This is where
a lot of new ideas are born. This part is, in fact, one of my favorite things about the entire process. As specialists, we get to be creative problem-solvers and work with our clients on their system’s initial feature/requirement list.
In our 13+ years in business, we have helped a lot of clients define their requirements and come up with new ways their custom solution can support their business. It’s incredibly rewarding for us because we get to expand upon our clients’
ideas and requests and help them add even more value to their custom software development projects.
Once in a Lifetime
The Far Reach team has decades of combined custom software development experience; we’ve been doing this for a very long time. Even though we’ve developed a framework that allows us to tackle each project in a similar way using the agile scrum
methodology, each project we’ve done has been unique.
It’s all in the name, really. It’s not just the solution that's custom but also the entire process, from beginning to end. Each project has nuances the process needs to accommodate, even within our framework.
We work with custom software day in and day out, but we know most of our clients don’t. That’s why our process is set up to guide you through using everything we’ve learned to this point.
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development? It’s our favorite topic! Reach out