If one of your mates walked into the pub wearing a tailored suit, we reckon we know what you’d say.
After all, why fork out for a custom item when your old Bermuda shorts are doing the job just fine?
We have some bad news for you.
Your Bermudas are not doing just fine.
And yes, this is a long-winded metaphor for software development.
The fact is that custom software, just like a tailored suit, will fit you a lot better than an old or off-the-rack option, no matter how comfortable you are with the latter.
It can even help you to succeed: a fit-for-purpose Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can increase sales by as much as 29%.
Here’s why you should consider going custom.
What does Custom Software Development really mean?
When you want to implement a big-ticket software item like a CRM, you usually have two choices:
- Off-the-shelf solutions
- Custom software
Examples of CRM systems you can get off the shelf include:
- Zoho One
There will usually be some customisation available with these systems – for example, we work extensively with Zoho One customising the software for businesses.
But generally speaking, they will have set features and set pricing plans.
With custom software, however, the sky is pretty much the limit.
At Human Pixel, we think of custom software development as applying human creativity to software problems. Basically, thinking like a human about computers.
We know what you’re thinking. “Sounds dreamy, mate, but what does this actually mean in practice?”
Well, it means working with our experts to think clearly and critically about your
- Pain points
- Organisational structure
We’ll help you understand your processes better, even challenging you to improve or rethink them based on our own expertise.
Then, from this deep-dive, we’ll use the Agile method to develop custom software that is flexible, adaptable, and fits your business like a glove. It’s a partnership when you work with us – not just an exchange of money for development skills.
Not everybody works this way, of course, and you’ll get different experiences if you work with a freelance developer vs a software development agency, but this is the standard of service we think you should be looking for when you sign up for custom software development.
With all this in mind, it goes without saying that in a list of the advantages of custom software development, personalisation is right at the top.
But what are the other advantages of custom software development, particularly compared to off-the-shelf solutions?
More Efficient Onboarding
The best-known off-the-shelf CRMs are designed to be a one-size-fits-all solution, but that means that it’s not always possible to tailor them closely to your business and its processes.
It makes sense that if your CRM requires you to use clunky workarounds to get the job done instead of being designed intuitively for your industry, it’ll take new hires longer to pick up.
Let’s look at an example.
Example – Customer Onboarding
Let’s say you start work at a legal department in a management consultancy firm where they use Salesforce as their CRM.
This seems great to you at first, because you know that automating contract management can accelerate negotiation cycles by 50%. (In this scenario, you’re a bit of a nerd.)
Salesforce offers contract lifecycle management, which is great, because that’s basically your whole day!
The problem is that you don’t work with static contracts. They need constant oversight, and to accomplish this effectively, you need specific tools. These might include
- Negotiation tools
- Complex, contract-specific reporting and analytics
- Automated workflows that work for your institution
Without these, you’re having to learn not just a handful of processes within one system, but a tonne of annoying workarounds. You’re constantly jumping in and out of multiple systems and databases, and it’s taking you forever.
Sure, the interface is simple, but your work day just got a lot more complicated.
That sounds frustrating, right? It’s no wonder that onboarding issues like this have such a big knock-on effect. In fact, it’s been proven that great employee onboarding can improve retention by as much as 82%.
With custom software, you wouldn’t have this problem. Your CRM would have been designed with your company’s specific processes, organisational structure, and workflows in mind.
You’d have all the tools you need and no redundant ones cluttering the interface, and your employees would gain confidence more quickly because the system mirrors their understanding of their role and industry.
Instead of wrestling with an out-of-date system (or multiple out-of-date systems) on their first day, they’d be using technology designed for them, right from their first week.
Sounds like a priority to us!
Naysayers of custom software development will say that it limits your ability to scale and adapt.
To this, we say… Well, sometimes.
As we mentioned before, the experience you have with custom software development depends on who you choose to deliver your software solution.
If you choose business process development experts like Human Pixel, you’re not just getting a one-time software setup that you’ll have to introduce a new developer to in a few years when you need changes.
Nor are you getting an off-the-shelf option that will require constant costly customisation.
Instead, you’re getting a system that integrates seamlessly into your tech stack, built not just to mimic your processes, but to improve them.
This makes the need for radical changes to the software in the future pretty unlikely. You’ll probably only need support for updates and tweaks, which agencies like us can easily provide.
Example – Organisational Changes
Let’s say you’re a large nonprofit in the higher education sector.
You provide membership, products, and services to universities around the world, and to enhance your offering, you acquire a small content marketing business in the same niche.
You have several new challenges facing you:
- A new workforce to onboard
- New processes to incorporate
- A new database to integrate and leads to share
- New revenue streams to track
With an off-the-shelf solution, you would have to migrate all this data, probably manually, and employ a developer or agency to create customised solutions for the shortfalls in the software.
By contrast, with a custom solution, and particularly by collaborating with business process developers, you can take a more holistic overview of these challenges and their solutions.
Experienced custom software developers can mould your CRM to the new shape of your organisation, creating a CRM that’s built to last – which brings us to our next point.
Better Long-Term ROI
We won’t mess you around: building a custom software solution can be expensive.
Based on current industry standards, just for an account and lead management module in a CRM, you could be paying between $30K and $40K.
Nope, you’re not being punk’d.
The different components of a full-service CRM system can all add up.
But before you run for the hills, think about what you’re getting for your money with a custom solution.
We’ve already mentioned that a custom-built CRM is the better option tech-wise – it’s
- Fit-for-purpose when it comes to your processes
- Easier for employees to learn and use
- Easier to integrate into your existing techstack
- Scalable as your business grows
But it’s also better value in the long term.
Yes, the setup costs are large. But when a CRM pays back $8.71 for every dollar invested, the dividends could be even larger.
In fact, even when compared to seemingly budget-friendly off-the-shelf options, over a 10-year period, the decision isn’t quite as clean-cut.
Many businesses start off with a low-cost CRM and upgrade when the pricing starts to skyrocket, or when they need more heavy-duty software features like complex sales automation.
This sounds sensible, but here’s the thing: changing CRM is costly, with a potential process overhaul involved.
Even if you choose to grow with one CRM, the costs can be large.
Example – Hubspot
Look at Hubspot. Here’s how its costs play out over a 10-year period, assuming you stay at the same tier the whole time. This doesn’t include add-ons like HubSpot’s CMS or reporting features.
|Starter (1 free user)||Professional (5 free users)||Enterprise (10 free users)|
|Cost per year||$600 ($50/mo)||$21,360 ($1,780/mo)||$60,000|
|Cost over 10 years||$6,000||$213,600||$600,000|
When looked at in this context, making a big investment upfront, but having lower ongoing costs as you grow, well, it just makes sense.
We get it, custom solutions seem flashy – and just like wearing a suit to the pub, you don’t need one for every occasion.
That’s why we believe that a good development partner will help you evaluate your options and prioritise where to put your development power to have the most impact.
Human Pixel can be that partner. We’ll help you think critically about your business processes, delivering a tech transformation that makes your employees’ lives easier, will adapt as your business grows, and pays back your investment over time.
Get in touch today to discuss which is the best option for your business.
Let’s get this partnership started.