Bespoke Software Problems
Bespoke software projects are the graveyards of many business plans! We meet many businesses who have become embroiled in costly and complex software development projects that have become a mill-stone for them.
Bespoke back-office systems, commercial software products or mobile app developments can become serious problems that have a material effect on business performance.
Bespoke Software Offers Great Opportunities
Bespoke software offers the opportunity to build genuine competitive advantage. It has the promise of giving you precisely what you want, of helping make your business unique, and adding real value.
For example, for some of our clients our Principals help build software that allows them to radically alter how they work internally. This can massively reduce costs, improve cycle times or hugely lift customer service if done well.
New technology allows you to create “software bots” to reduce the burden on customer service teams. Machine learning can improve performance of everything from procurement to customer recommendation engines. Data analytics can allow you to understand and visualise your data to improve decision-making and delegate authority.
For some other clients, our Principals have helped create software they then license to their own clients to create entirely new revenue streams and differentiate them in crowded marketplaces.
Why is bespoke software so difficult?
Firstly because you can have precisely what you want and the sky’s the limit! It can be very difficult to limit scope and make decisions when anything is possible. This is compounded by the fact that software developers are sometimes poor communicators and the issues they are trying to describe are often complex and time consuming to understand.
The inherent complexity of bespoke software means that effort estimates often prove inaccurate so promises made, may not be kept. Software people may not understand the commercial impact of these overruns. All this can damage relationships and erode confidence, which often compounds the communication problem!
And the quality of software is very difficult to judge from the outside. Rigorous testing is necessary to establish whether the software does what it’s supposed to, yet design weaknesses may only be exposed months or years later!
Finally, even when bespoke software is finished, that’s never the end. New requirements emerge, technology moves on, the team changes. If these issues aren’t managed then good software can turn bad.
We are Experienced Business People Who Understand Software
Many of our Principals are experts in software development for internal systems or for commercial product development. They can ensure the system strategy is clear; recruit a team or find a development partner; oversee the architecture and design decisions; ensure good engineering practices are being followed and oversee rigorous project management and testing.
The Software Is Just Part of the Recipe
For internal systems they will also, of course, oversee user engagement, and changes to process and organisation where necessary. For commercial products they can take part in discussions about pricing, partnerships and other go to market questions.