Software has revolutionized how today’s companies conduct their business, offering functionalities that expedite many crucial operational aspects.
For back-office operations, leveraging software can prove advantageous. However, it’s worth noting that some companies may fall into a particular niche or utilize a unique system that commercially available software cannot accommodate. In these instances, developing software for internal use may make more sense.
Thinking of creating custom internal use software for your organization? This blog post can help you in decision-making by discussing different factors before greenlighting a software development project.
What is Internal Use Software?
Internal use software is a program developed in-house, modified, or acquired exclusively to meet an organization’s precise internal requirements. As such, no substantial plans exist to market or sell the software externally. There are several reasons why some businesses choose to develop their software.
First, specially developed internal use software can fulfill the company’s previously unmet needs. This means the company can design it to integrate with legacy systems, manufacturing assemblies, databases, or third-party applications, enabling efficient data exchange and collaboration across different departments or processes.
Another benefit lies in its flexibility and scalability. You have greater control over proprietary software and can easily modify, expand, or enhance it as needed, ensuring that it continues to meet your company’s evolving needs.
The following back-office operations may benefit most from custom software:
- Analytics and Reporting
- Human Resources
- Document Management
- Inventory Management
- Workflow Management
- Equipment and Machinery Management
What to Consider Before Developing Software for Internal Use
Before your company embarks on your planned internal use software development, there are several factors you should look into. The following vital considerations can significantly impact the success, cost, and efficiency of the development process, as well as the software’s long-term maintenance and support.
1. What’s your budget?
While it may save you money long-term, internal use software development can be costly upfront. Hiring software developers, acquiring the necessary development tools, and allocating a budget to infrastructure maintenance and support are significant initial investments.
A clear understanding of your budgetary constraints will allow you to set realistic expectations and make informed decisions about the scope and scale of the project. Moreover, it helps you assess when or if internal use software development is the best option for your company.
2. Are these functionalities available in Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) options?
Commercial Off-the-Shell refers to pre-packaged software solutions readily available for purchase. COTS software can be a cost-effective option that still provides the features that your business needs. Before deciding on custom software development, check if there are existing COTS options that can meet your desired functionalities.
3. Do you have time constraints?
On average, software development can take between three to nine months. Depending on the program’s complexity and the features you need, it can even take longer.
Aside from the development cycle itself, the multiple coding and testing phases before deployment also take time. These steps are necessary to ensure the program is running correctly or if there are any other required alterations.
As such, your company needs to adopt an agile development method or consider a phased approach to ensure timely software delivery.
4. Do you have access to skilled software developers?
Consider whether your organization has the necessary expertise of in-house programmers, software architects, and other relevant professionals or if you need to hire external developers.
If you deem that the required skill set is not available internally or in the local talent pool, consider having offshore software developers. Offshore development offers your organization access to a global talent pool of specialized expertise at a lower cost.
5. How about ongoing software maintenance and debugging?
Software development doesn’t end with the initial deployment. There’s still much to do regarding its long-term maintenance and support requirements. Post-launch activities include addressing bugs or issues, applying updates and patches, and ensuring compatibility with evolving technologies.
It would help to have a plan for ongoing maintenance and debugging. It could involve establishing an in-house team dedicated to software maintenance or partnering with software development companies that offer post-development support.
An ongoing maintenance plan ensures that the internal use software remains up-to-date, secure, and aligned with the changing needs of your business.
The Intricacies of Internal Use Software Development
Internal use software provides many benefits, giving you virtually limitless ways to improve your process and a company-exclusive tool that offers you an edge over competitors. However, there are crucial details you need to determine regarding software development before you proceed with it: time, resources, and whether it’s the right option.
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