Bespoke software allows you to have your cake and eat it
Bespoke software can fill the gap between off-the-shelf solutions and your business requirements. Off-the-shelf solutions often provide most of the functionality businesses need, but often they find that their business processes don't quite match the generic processes these solutions provide. A good example is where businesses use a standard accounting solution like Sage Line 50 or QuickBooks that doesn't match their sales order processing. Bespoke software can fill this gap, enabling you to take advantage of the lower costs associated with these types of applications and investing in the specific needs that these solution don't provide.
We have recently developed a number of applications that bridge this gap and an excellent example of this is CladCo Limited who have used QuickBooks for the sales ordering process. Although QuickBooks fulfils their needs there are two areas in which it fails:
- There is a limit to the number of customers QuickBooks can hold at anyone time (in their version it is 14,000)
- The sales staff have to calculate the linear metres required to fulfil an order and the estimates / sales orders doesn't provide a mechanism for doing this within the QuickBooks user interface.
There was obviously no need to completely re-invent the wheel developing a new accounts package but developing a solution that could sit on top of QuickBooks and handle the creation of the estimates and the sales orders meant that they could have a bespoke solution that matched their needs, whilst still benefiting from the core functionality that QuickBooks provides. The solution was fully integrated into QuickBooks, providing real time synchronisation between the two applications and a seamless solution. Furthermore, the new system enabled them to hold and retain customer information which can then be used for marketing purposes in the future.
There are numerous other examples where bespoke software can help you, as a business, make the most of your existing investments, including data mining and reporting and a good example of this is an application we developed for Protelligent, called ooble. This application uses data imported from Sage Line 50 to create cash-flow forecasts that can then be manipulated to create Management Information reports that run one or more scenarios over a set period of time using actual / forecast figures. Once a forecast has been created users can import transactions from Sage Line 50 to update the actual figures on an on going basis.
Other examples of where bespoke software can help is with duplication, where information has to be entered multiple times into various different applications. At worst this is a labour intensive operation and often leads to errors, resulting in data varying between one application to another. Once of the worst examples I have ever come across was for a group of accounts that had to enter the same details in 17 times.
Don't discount your existing solutions just because they don't quite fit as often bespoke software can provide a viable solution without having to re-invent the wheel! Turn-key and customised solutions of vertical market applications can offer huge savings and enable you to harness the functionality that drew you to the specific product in the first place.
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